Spring Taters

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.

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20 Responses to Spring Taters

    • DM says:

      Do you do any gardening these days Jane? And on a completely unrelated note. I was thinking about you this afternoon, in regard to when you were a teacher in college. Did you ever have any trouble with unruly students?

      • Jane Fritz says:

        I’m afraid our gardening has been mostly of the decorative variety for the last several years. Our current property is in a flood plain, so poor soil and sometimes under water, but lots of fun. What an interesting question re my students. In 30 years of teaching computer science I can say without a moment of hesitation that I never, ever had an unruly student. I had many students who came to me with personal as well as subject-matter concerns, but none unruly. And of course, it being computing, they were mostly males. Fantastic people. I have many as Facebook friends from across the decades.

  1. That’s so cool. I wintered over carrots one year using same idea. Doesn’t get as cold as Iowa in Selah, where we lived, but cold enough.
    One of my favorite things to grow was red potatoes. Our last fall there we got our best crop ever. Miss it.

    • DM says:

      Red potatoes are my favorite! Any idea what Selah means? I know there’s a Contemporary Christian music group by that name, it’s got to mean something.

      • When I was trying to decide whether or not to move to Selah from California and where my friends were living I opened the Bible and saw the word Selah for the first time. It means “pause and reflect on these things.” I certainly needed to pause and reflect so I loaded a uhaul with our belongings, and moved my nine year old and two cats to Selah. I lived their 24 years.

  2. Joni says:

    Wow – what an amazing idea! I’ve only planted potatoes once, with a measly crop my Irish ancestors could relate to.

    • DM says:

      What part of the country do you live in Joni? Maybe it’s not a good potato growing region 🙂 You have Irish ancestors too? How cool!

      • Joni says:

        Ontario, Canada. We do grow potatoes here, but some of mine had rot like in the potato famine! We have poor clay soil here, but I grew them in my garden which has better soil. Was disappointed, and haven’t attempted it again.

  3. avwalters says:

    That’s amazing. When an equinox frost killed my late potatoes last September…I should have just mulched them! (Instead of harvesting a bag of pingpong ball sized taters.) Now I know. Next time…..

    • DM says:

      that sounds like an early Frost AV..you guys are further north than us, so that would make sense. And on a completely unrelated note, I finished the 2nd split this morning. I am cautiously optimistic. this is a first time for me doing this solo. One of my mentors suggested next time I take a magnifying glass w/ me to better see the eggs or uncapped larva. I still don’t have good close up vision after the cataract procedure, so it was all but impossible to see those little details. I did end up seeing the queen..she had colorful dot on her back. Heck she was in the top box, second frame I pulled out, totally took me by surprise.

  4. emjayandthem says:

    Yum, I can taste those beauties from here!! MJ

    • DM says:

      They are amazing! How’s the new job? I saw something on FB but wasn’t sure if it had already begun? Are you with the same company or something completely different?

      • emjayandthem says:

        Starts tomorrow ~ same co, up and over into a new role, leading a massive expansion project 🙂

      • DM says:

        How was your first week?

      • emjayandthem says:

        thank you for asking ~ It’s been great – fun, busy, lots to do & learn AND I am still in my old job for a while as the new one ramps up. I’ve been promised that they’ll backfill my current role – we will see if that happens 😉 Hope you and yours are doing well! MJ

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