Growing Potatoes Part I – Two Great Ways to Grow Potatoes

I planted potatoes, twice.  Both times in the ground and both times it was an utter failure.

The first year, the potatoes were small and a mole was very well fed at the end.  The second year, I moved the potato planting location to see if I could get better luck.  It was worse this past year.  Little did I know that walnut trees have murderous intent toward certain species of plants and potatoes are one of them.

I came across these two sites about growing potatoes and I am feeling inspired.

One site shows how to grow potatoes in a very nice crate, the other shows how to grow them in a 5-gallon bucket.  I liked both methods and decided to inspire you with the idea too.

 

I haven’t planted my potatoes yet, I think though that I might just give it another try.  

Here are a couple of methods I am considering:

Growing Potatoes in a Crate

Source: https://oldworldgardenfarms.com/2016/06/30/23048/


With Jim and Mary, our potato growers, it all started with a simple desperate experiment – that was a success!

They also felt that there was an easier way, that would take up less space and result in a successful crop.

They built simple crates that tip over so you can dump your crop out, instead of digging it out.
They even provide the specs for the crates: Making Our Potato Crates

 

They even grow sweet potatoes this way.  so check out their site and article at: Source: https://oldworldgardenfarms.com/2016/06/30/23048/

 

Growing a Potato Farm in Buckets

http://fivegallonideas.com/potato-farm/

Mark, the author of this article, is from the Netherlands and he has all kinds of 5-gallon bucket ideas, but we will be focusing on growing potatoes today.

I like his idea because it is simple, easy and no real skills are necessary to start.

I learned that the best potatoes to use are NOT Russett, but the red and yellow potatoes because they are healthier.

There are two reasons to plant in buckets:
1.buckets are portable so you can move them into the sun and to a protected location in case of severe weather.
2: There is no digging involved, just tip the bucket and harvest the potatoes.

About 2 lbs of potatoes can be harvested from each bucket ~ I personally think that could be stretched…but that’s my opinion.

Here is his video about growing potatoes in buckets.

I think that this is an effort I am willing to invest in.  You can get food grade buckets at Menards (cheapest price), Lowes and Walmart for 5 dollars or less each.
Or you can build your own crates from scrap wood and save your money to purchase the seed potatoes.

Either way – if you grow your own potatoes, you will know how they were grown and what they were treated with.  

Now that the FDA has approved GMO potatoes for the general market, you won’t know what you are getting at the grocer.  Make sure your seed potatoes are non-GMO.  You can’t use grocery store potatoes, gotta get seed potatoes.  You can get them at the store during growing season or through a catalog.

Make sure your seed potatoes are non-GMO.  
You can’t use grocery store potatoes, gotta get seed potatoes.  
You can get them at the store during growing season or through a catalog.

However you choose to plant – plant happy!

May the Storage Be With You,

Anne 🙂

 

 

Honey Sweet Flow Hive

This is hands-down
THE BEST NEW HIVE INVENTION
since the honey extractor!

Over 10 years of research have gone into this product
to ensure you are as happy as your bees will be.

 

Easy on the bees – Easy on you!  


Less work, more honey – happiness all aroun
d!
This is my dream hive and it’s on my
“gotta-get-this” list for 2-do’s this year!
I bought mine recently ~ It is lovely.
I will have more info about my beekeeping adventures soon.

Back to the Flow Hive:

Manufactured in the USA and Australia – you could have your hive shipped within 3 days of your order and on your doorstep quicker that the honeybee flies!

Link to Special Sale Price

Learn more about the Flow Hive, how it works and why it is the best hive for the backyard gardener or the serious beekeeper:

http://

I think this system is revolutionary and will be a great blessing to the backyard beekeeper and for those who extract honey as a profession. 

Eden Gardening – Part 2

Oops…this was supposed to be up a while back, but it did not post…sorry…tech scheduling error .

I know it’s no longer winter and spring is upon us, but this may give you ideas for next fall.

This is a continuation of my epic garden fail this past spring 2015.

If you read the Eden Gardening – Part 1, the whole sordid story is publicly posted for the world to read, and laugh, or cry – like I did. There is also a nifty film recommending Eden Gardening – a very productive and deeply naturalistic gardening experience that I think you will enjoy….IF you enjoy gardening.  Back to Eden Film

Are you ready to do something different this next year – the time to start is now!

Now?  it’s near winter for crying out loud! ~ yep it sure is.

It would have been even better if had suggested this in September as the last of your last withering crops were being tilled out of the ground, but that would have made too much sense.  I, unfortunately, neglected to layer my garden this past fall – I was still licking my wounds over an epically failed garden.  Next year – I’ll supplement my wood chips in the fall.  

The BEST part about spreading wood chips is:
No pre-weeding or plowing is required…just pour, spread and ignore.
Love It! 🙂

The reason to start laying your wood chip foundation in the fall or winter is so that it will have time to compost underneath and provide a nice bed for your growing plants next spring.  By year spring number two, after you have applied your second layer, the soil below will be a deep brown-black color and very rich in vital nutrients your plants will love!

Where to Find Wood Chips:

Fall wood chip pile. source: Restored Roots

Fall wood chip pile.
source: restoredroots.com

Your local city waste management company may be able to direct you to where the tree and brush recycling centers are located.  Often you will need to bring your own pick-up truck, and there maybe a cost to obtaining wood-chips.

There are also businesses that will deliver wood chips to your garden location, but most will only dump them in, or near, your garden space.  Delivery drivers usually do not spread the chips, so you will probably have to do that yourself or hire someone to spread them for you.

Note: Sawdust is NOT the same as wood chips.  The wood chips I am referring to, come from natural roadside gleaning, where the utility companies come in and cut local wood to clean up a street or neighborhood.  Using treated wood chips – either pre-sprayed for weed suppression – or treated wood for insect prevention will negatively effect your garden area and possibly introduce contaminates into your garden harvest.

How to Spread the Wood Chips

When your wood chips have been dumped on your garden space, you will need to spread them over your garden area. Spreading wood chips is hard work – sorry, but it is.  I suggest the employment a few family, friends and neighborhood kids, well armed with rakes, shovels and wheel barrows.

For a garden foundation spread the wood chips over the garden area at a minimum of 8 inches – deep.
(If you are planning to use as a mulch over settled beds, then 2-4″ would be a better spread.)
The reason for 8 inches is to allow for complete weed suppression and self-heating composting for next spring plantings.
It will take a large truckload of chips to create an 8 ft x 6 ft’ garden space at least 8″- 12″ deep.  Most truckloads will cost you 60.00 – 150.oo to deliver, unless your area is giving truckloads of chips away for free. If so, they may deliver the fresh truckload to your garden space, at the end of the day, on their way back to the office.

Raised Bed Eden Garden

If you want your wood chip garden to be uniform or in a raised bed – it is easy.  Rake the edges of the chips to your desired height and then surround the garden bed with either raised bedding materials or set edging material around the wood chip area. Then fill your raised, bed-to-be with wood chips.  You can also mix in dried leaves as a compost extra.
Caution: avoid Walnut leaves, they inhibit germination 

When the wood chips are spread, cover the bed with dark plastic and let it sit through the winter to break down into a nutritive soil.

What Happens to the Wood Chips After they are Spread?

When the thick bed of wood chips has been spread over the garden bed in the late fall and left to sit until spring, the wood chips at the bottom begin to compost.  This composting causes heat to develop in the wood chip bed and promotes wood chip disintegration.  This composting is a good thing, because nutrients trapped in the plant material, mainly wood chips, are broken down and absorbed by the soil to aid is providing the proper diet the garden will need during the growing season.

Gardening in Wood Chips

The first spring after wood chips are laid down, there may not be sufficient composted wood chips beneath.
The wood chips continue to break down through the growing season and into the next winter, but the first year the composted bed is just beginning to establish itself.  You may need to purchase some composted soil to make up the difference sue to a lack of developed compost in you first year gardening bed.

During this first year, the soil surrounding the pre-sprouted plants will provide extra growth medium while the compost bed further establish themselves.   Remove the excess potting soil surrounding the plant roots, without leaving them bare, and mix the loose potting soil with the compost in the hole prepared for the plant, then place the plant into the mixed dirt.  When the two mediums are mixed like this, the plant roots ‘taste’ the composted soil mixed with the potting soil and accept this new mix as part of its natural growth medium.

Maintaining the Wood Chips

Just as a harvested garden is plowed under and prepared for the next planting season, so too will the wood chip garden need pre-winter maintenance.  Before you break a sweat, I assure you that this part is easy compared to the old-fashioned way of maintaining a garden.

Here’s what you won’t be doing: Rototilling, plowing or preparing the ‘soil’.

The step is simple, remove any unwanted plants, (ie: weeds), leave the rest for compost, then spread more wood chips – another 4″ to 6″ – and let it sit for another winter season.  You can weed if you want, but it is not necessary.  If you choose not to weed then add an extra 3 inches to the wood chip layer to ensure that the weeds get well composted.

By year two, the Spring wood chip compost layer will be rich and dark, basically like fresh new soil.

Maintaining the wood chips is easy.  Each year, all you need to do is add another thick layer of wood chips in the fall, (cover them, if they are in a bed), and let them sit.  That’s it!

Follow the Restored Roots Gardening Experience, parts 1 and 2:

Our First Back to Eden Garden (Part 1) – Early Summer

Remember, if you purchase a soil supplement, such as compost, topsoil or potting soil the first year, your seedlings and seeds will not have so much of the struggles that restoredroots started with.  As for slugs, they can be managed with an organic slug bait or with the old-fashioned near-beer in a tuna-can ritual.

Our First Back to Eden Garden (Part 2) – Early Fall

I love Eden Gardening, Restored Roots loved Eden Gardening and I think you will too!

May the Storage Be With You,

Anne  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eden Gardening – Part 1

Our garden drowned this past spring….it was pathetic.

It was epic pathetic – puddles of water formed in the leach field behind my little home.  At first when I bought the house, I thought “Cool! I won’t have to water!”  Duh…I live in Missouri, aka – the water state…

There was sooooooooo much water this past spring that the rivers flooded the corn fields and septic tanks backed up on the neighbors country farms.  There was at least of month of rain, enough that Eli, the local Amish Guy, had time to rebuild my bathroom floor and other nifty stuff, ’cause he couldn’t venture out into the fields without getting stuck in the mud.

Yep – it was Epic Pathetic!

Not all is lost though – I have a plan…..

A couple of years ago – in 2012, when I lived on 3 acres, I tried a new technique.  I had heard about an evangelist gardener who had developed a low-maintenance gardening method.  Well, I am all about low maintenance, so I tried it.

Building it was hard work, since I didn’t have a pickup truck at the time, I would fill my sedan trunk up with aged wood chips and unload them onto a selected plot of grass.  It was slow going, but paid off big time.

My first spring was good – it was as promised – low to no maintenance and zero watering after the initial watering had been done.  Weeds were easy to pull and I got a decent bounty.

The real test was in 2013.  A friend had helped me out that spring and unloaded about 4 giant truckloads of the aged wood chips.  My garden bed doubled in size and thickness. I planted squash, zucchini, peas, cabbage, melons, corn, etc. with the excited hope of having a bang-up harvest.

Things changed though.  During the hottest time of the season, my mother died, and then I decided I needed to get away and snuggle some grandchildren, so I left for a month.  (I would have been gone longer, but responsibilities called to me.)  I said goodbye to my garden, not expecting it to survive the month-long 90’s to 100 degree high humidity temperatures that are so enduring to this state in the late summer months.  I thoroughly enjoyed the month of being with grand-kids and it was nice to be able to work through my grief with family.

Upon my return, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only had my garden survived, it was awesome! – The weeds flourished too.  the important thing was everything survived and had been growing quite well in my absence.  What really sold me on Eden gardening was when I reached down with an iron grip and heaved a weed northward, the ease in which the unwanted plant released it’s grip from the garden bed sent me toppling backward near-head-over-heels.  That was when I knew I was in-love. 

Now I am in a new home – I tried the old method of planting in the soil and got nothing….not even my potatoes survived….

This spring….it’s gonna be different.

Watch the Back to Eden Film and learn more about how this amazing, down-to-earth system works:

 

 

The source for this film is: http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/  buy the DVD and support this farmer.

The Restored Roots blog post, lists both Pro’s and Con’s about wood chips:

“PROS:

  1. Wood chips do a fabulous job of weed control. In the past three months, I’ve only pulled about two dozen weeds (no joke!). That has been wonderful. In years past, I have spent hours and hours pulling weeds throughout the summer and fall. I won’t be doing that this year! 
  2. With wood chips, the few weeds I’ve had to deal with are easy to pull. Weed seeds don’t have a chance to get into the soil because the wood chips are so deep. Out of the ones that do survive, their roots are thin and very easy to pull and discard.
  3. Wood chips make vegetable plants big and super healthy! Even after a rough start, our squash plants are absolutely beautiful and producing lovely, juicy fruit. (Notice the zucchini and blue Hubbard in the photos below.) They look bigger and better than plants from our previous gardens. We believe the wood chips are creating a rich, more vibrant soil. They have also caused rapid strong growth in our fruit trees and raspberry crop. (We spread the chips everywhere in our garden!)
  4. Wood chips have decreased our garden water consumption dramatically.Compared to open bare soil, the wood chips keep water in the soil and plants. Now that the squash plants are almost to full maturity, we’re only watering about twice a week, even in the hottest of weather.

For more information about self-sufficient ways of living:

Get the Book

CONS:

  1. Wood chips seem to attract slugs, especially in the spring when the ground is still moist. This is bad news for new growth coming up from seed. In a different climate, where there is less rainfall, this might not be the case. But in our zone 8 with lots of rain throughout the winter and spring, I’m guessing that slugs are more of a problem. I also confirmed this with our CSA farmer, who tried using mulch on a large scale one year. His said slugs were a major problem. The solution? Planting from starts (not seed) seemed to help. But you could also use Sluggo Snail & Slug Control, a natural organic slug killer, or Epsom salts around each vegetable plant or row to control the slug population.
  2. Wood chips seem to smother new growth from seed, at least in the first year.source: www.RestoredRoots.com The Back to Eden website isabsolutely correct. You must pull back the chips and plant in the soil. Otherwise, the seeds have no chance. Even then, the wood chips tend to move and fall back into the “soil hole.” One possible solution we have not tried: place a plastic barrier in between the soil and wood chips, so they don’t fall back into place.”

 

source= http://restoredroots.com/our-first-back-to-eden-garden-part-1-early-summer/

Check out my next blog for advice on when and how to build your new wood-chip garden bed.
https://howmuchwheatbook.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/eden-gardening-part-2/

Beekeeping 101: 5 Things to Do Before Your Bees Arrive

I still dream of Beekeeping  – if you do to, then locate your local beekeeping chapter in your area.
http://www.beeculture.com/directory/find-local-beekeeper/
Beekeeping 101: 5 Things to Do Before Your Bees Arrive
http://homereadyhome.com/beekeeping-101-5-things-to-do/

Thinking about getting bees? A At the time of this post, I’ve just finished installing the last of three packages of bees. There are two hives at our mountain house and one at the community garden in town. Here are my girls down at the garden…

It’s exciting!! I just know you’re going to love beekeeping, too. However, to get to this point, there are some important steps you need to take. And to make it easier for you, let me share what I’ve learned so far. Consider it a little Beekeeping 101.

Before you pick up bees from a supplier, there are five things you need to do:
1. Ask yourself important questions.

Why do you want to keep bees? Examine your motivation for getting into beekeeping. Do you just want bees to pollinate your garden or are you hoping to become a honey distributor?

Are you allergic to bee stings? There’s really no way around it. You will get stung at some point. Some swelling, itching and redness are normal reactions to bee stings, however a small percentage of people will have a life threatening allergic reaction. If you or someone in your family has a severe bee sting allergy, this probably isn’t the hobby for you. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re allergic, it’s a good idea to get tested by an allergist.

Are you committed to beekeeping?
Beekeeping isn’t considered a time intensive hobby, but during your first year, you will inspecting your hives frequently, as this will help you learn more about your bees. Also, be realistic about the time you have. Don’t go all out and start with more hives than you can manage.

What will your neighbors think?
If your neighbors are opposed to your new hobby, you may just need to explain basic beekeeping to get them to come around. For example, the community garden where my bees are located is on a church’s property. (A church with a weekday preschool program!) It took a little educating and some convincing but ultimately the bees won. If your neighbors are so against your bees and are making your life miserable, you may have to find a different location for the bees or not get started in beekeeping at all.

2. Get educated.

Start by reading books and watching videos about beekeeping. The best books I’ve read are Beekeeping for Dummies by Howland Blackiston and Kim Flottum’s The Backyard Beekeeper.

Then, take a class. Call your local Cooperative Extension and ask about beekeeping classes or google beekeeper associations in your state. Most associations offer a beginner beekeeper class and some will even pair you with a mentor once you complete the class.

Also, educate yourself on the local ordinances. Check with your town or city government and find out if beekeeping allowed. In some places, it’s illegal to have hives (usually in urban communities). Other communities allow hives, but have a restriction on the number allowed. And some places require you to register as a beekeeper or obtain a permit.

3. Order your bees early.

Yes, that’s right. Ordering your bees is on the list of things to do before your bees arrive because if you don’t order early enough, there’s a good chance you may not have bees arriving at all!

At the bee school I attended, the instructor handed out a list of recommended bee suppliers on the first night (another benefit to taking a class) and said, “Order your bees now.” Yikes! I still hadn’t completely made up my mind if I wanted to get into beekeeping and now, I had to order bees!?! But, the students who didn’t follow his advice were out of luck. The suppliers ran out of bees.

The best time of year to get bees is early spring but you need to place your order well ahead. During the winter, usually 4 months or so before spring delivery dates, contact your supplier and get your order in.

4. Buy beekeeping equipment.

There are several different styles of hives. The most common hive is the Langstroth hive. All the equipment suppliers will sell the components for the Langstroth but not all manufacturers’ equipment matches. It’s best to choose a supplier you like and stick with them. (Both books I mentioned above list the names and contact info for equipment suppliers.) I purchased my hives from brushymountainbeefarm.com. They were super patient and helpful answering all my beginner questions. Also, they make it easier for beginners by offering 8 or 10-frame beginner kits, and of course, you can always order items separately.

Either way, here is the equipment you need for a Langstroth hive:

  • hive bottom board
  • hive body (Also called a brood box or deep super. Another option is to use two medium supers instead of one deep. They are easier to handle when full of bees and honey.)
  • shallow super
  • inner cover
  • telescoping top
  • 9 1/8” frames (I prefer pre-assembled frames.)
  • 5 3/8” frames (I prefer pre-assembled frames.)
  • 8 1/2” crimp wire wax foundation
  • 4 3/4” crimp wire wax foundation
  • entrance reducer
  • entrance feeder (or another feeder of your choice)
  • hive tool
  • bee brush
  • smoker
  • veil
  • gloves
  • jacket or full bee protection suit

You’ll also need a hive stand to get your hive up off the ground. Cinderblocks are a good inexpensive option and pallets work as well.

Here’s a video that shows you how all the equipment fits together…

https://www.youtube.com/embed/WWLsaPjGws4“>http://

5. Set up your hive.

If you didn’t purchase pre-painted boxes, then the first thing you need to do is paint the outside of the hive body, telescoping top (wood only) and bottom board with an exterior latex paint or a natural sealant.

Next, install the wax foundation on your frames. Watch this video to see how it’s done:
https://www.youtube.com/embed/XqvsCGRHE84“>http://
Then, ready your location to receive bees. Don’t wait until the package of bees is in your hands before you get all the location logistics worked out because things rarely go as planned. Decide on the best place for your hive and set up the hive stand. Gather all your equipment and have it ready. And it doesn’t hurt to practice lighting your smoker once or twice before the big day.

If you’re just getting started in beekeeping, I’d love to hear from you!
What questions do you have? What have you learned so far? Tell me how it’s going for you in the comments below.