The Ides of March: Darkside of the Moon

It is Dark of the Moon in March, and so it is potato planting time.  Today we planted:

Source:  Southern States:  28 Yukon Gold.  28 Kennibec.

Source:  Ronniger Potato Farm:  13 Red Pontiac.  1 Nikola.  6 Caribe.  8 Carola.  8  Yukon Gold.

We used 3 long boxes and 1/2 of a square box for them, which is a slightly denser planting of 9-10″ spacing than we used last year, which was a full 12″.

Prepping the boxes allowed me to investigate the soil to the bottom.  The soil feels just right, a nice mix of thoroughly damp while allowing excess water to drain out.  Essentially no clumping, no “muddy” texture.   Until this year we have used a soil mix similar to that used in Square Foot Gardening:  a combination of 3-5 different organic composts, peat moss, and vermiculite.   Unfortunately this resulting in a typical pH of 7.1-7.3 across our boxes, which was just too high to grow radishes and most other root crops well.  So I’ve been sulfuring the boxes with powdered elemental sulfur for the past 18 months to bring the pH down.  This area mostly has a pH which is too low rather than too high, so people stared at me blankly at various stores where I asked for advice.

This year we ordered a topsoil blend composed of horse manure, gray sand, and black topsoil from Piedmont Feed and Garden, a local store that has been very helpful to us.  To this we are adding vermiculite.  Anywhere we prepped a potato box we removed 6-7″ of the soil and put it in one of the six new boxes.  Then as the potato plants come up, we’ll start mounding them with the new mix.  We’ll be sending out soil samples of the new mix to our county for testing soon, so that we know what we’re working with.

Of course, due to the extensive sulfuring we were doing, we were working at cross-purposes to our original sowing of each box with mycorrhizal fungi, which we’ve obtained both from Fungi Perfecti, and our local Fifth Season store.  So I restocked it now that the sulfuring process appears to be over, and will be sowing it this next week back into the boxes.

The bad news from digging out the boxes is that root systems from the ground seem to be penetrating or growing over and around (through the mulch?)  the heavy landscaping layer we put under each box when we set them.  We’ll need to make a point of furrowing each box to the bottom next time we plant in each one, ferreting out any plant systems that are developing below.  And speaking of ferreting, we may have moles, voles, or some other mangy critter that is somehow getting into the boxes.  Personally, if I were a burrowing mammal, I’d hie away from the clay soil we have here, but if they start getting into our boxes it’s gonna be war.

This is our first post here, after getting the concept for it 6 months ago.  Follow up posts will include flashbacks to establishing the garden in the first place, and some of our past experiences, as well as what is happening in present time.

Until such time.

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One Response to “The Ides of March: Darkside of the Moon”

  1. Mr WordPress Says:

    Oooh, what a nice blog. . .

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