Friday, February 15, 2013

Weekend Gardening: Pruning and Potatoes

   Mid-February brings us to a place of pruning and potatoes. Roses, hibiscus, crepe myrtles, and fruit trees benefit from a good trim while potatoes find their way to the soil. In our garden this weekend the solarizing cover is being removed for planting, while new soil is being tilled and cover for next month's seedlings. Tomato starts are spending sunny afternoons getting acclimated outside the greenhouse making room for more starts to set up room in the greenhouse.
   To prepare for a day of pruning, I clean off the pruners and give them a nice spritz of oil in the hinge... a little scrape over the sharpener is never a bad idea either. Pruning is a merciless endeavor requiring a good prep talk and a few cups of coffee. Roses, hibiscus and crepe myrtle simply get their dead canes trimmed away..I'm a conservative pruner so my bushes are rather wild and somewhat unruly, but as long as they bloom we're good. For fruit trees I confess to being a complete idiot. My attempts to 'find a central leader' and 'create an open center' are quite hideous. Those poor trees that have managed to survive my whack and swack attempts at pruning are hardy beings that deserve a metal for making it through.
   Potatoes are less a catastrophe than pruning..but are often a disappointing feat. The south east Texas soil just doesn't lend well to these beloved tubers, but we relentless garden souls never give up. I dig my trench, place my seed potatoes 14" apart and cover them a few inches at a time as they grow. It is then left in the hands of our drastic weather to decide whether productive growth will occur. This year we are testing out Russian fingerlings instead of our traditional Irish potatoes. Our extension office urged us to give them a go claiming their maturity before summer heat would greatly improve our odds. We'll see.

   The bare facts:
Prepare seed potatoes by cutting into pieces having at least one, preferably two eyes per section.
Direct seed in the garden the mid-February.
  Be sure to plant in an area with available soil for 'hilling up' as they grow.
Common southern variety- Potato
Red dale
norkotah russet
Yukon gold
red norland
Russian Fingerling
    At harvest, gently work the roots free and allow to 'cure' in the row a day before storing. Do not wash until use. Set several aside for next season's seed.
**note- small 'fingerling' potatoes are better suited for southern gardens than larger ones
    My personal seed resource favorites are Producer's Co-op, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange,
                 ** due to new GMO information, I no longer use Territorial Seed.

    If you intend to save potatoes for seed, be sure to plant plenty of extra rows to save. Store potato harvest and ones for seed in a cool dry place for up to a year.
   Have a beautiful weekend. Let's slip into some overalls and get growing!


Tree Removal Brooklyn said...

Herbal and organic gardening is the best way to take advantage of your grass and property, grow food! I wish more people were as passionate about gardening as we are.

-Evergreen Tree & Shrub Inc.

Simply Scaife Family said...

I couldn't agree more!