Stumbled across the concept of Spring taters a couple of years ago quite by accident.
I am still sold on the concept of heavy mulch gardening. It has been around for quite a while so not going to revisit all of the details of it tonight. (Very little weeding and the ones there are, come right up, healthier soil, better moisture retention during dry spells, less work in general,, never have to till again, earth worms love it, etc.)
(Google Ruth Stout, Back to Eden, Heavy Mulch etc. if you’re interested.)
So, couple of years ago, I came across some potatoes in the spring under the mulch that I’d missed digging in the Fall that were amazing. Crisp, firmer even than when I harvested the rest of them. We live in Iowa, so the ground freezes here, to a depth of 3 or 4 feet most years, some years deeper than that.
Some of the potatoes had rotted and turned to mush, but other ones were dense . This is just a guess, but I know there are certain root crops (parsnips?) that seem to get better after they sit in the ground for a spell)….So, this past growing season, I decided to stagger the planting of my potato crop. Planted some in the spring just like everyone else, but others not until mid summer (July). In the fall, rather than dig those, I piled a good 18 inches of hay mulch over the whole bed. My thinking was, if I wanted fresh potatoes in the middle of winter, just move some hay and wha-la…better than going to the grocery store 😉
In construction, if we’re planning to dig a foundation and we know it’s not going to be until after the ground starts freezing we will cover the ground with bales of hay, (or some type of insulation), and depending on how cold it gets, the ground under the bales will not freeze for quite some time.
Last Saturday I needed the potato bed space for 10 new apple trees that were coming this week. I pulled all the hay away, and began harvesting potatoes. In a little 15 by 20 ft area, there were a good 100 pounds of those amazing taters….95% of them made it just as I’d hoped.
2nd week in April, and I”m harvesting potatoes in Iowa. Continue reading