Monday, March 17, 2014

Seedling and Potato Progress

My indoor seedlings are making good progress:
Pepper seedlings need to be bumped up to separate pots.

Tomato seedlings that moved into these "6-packs" two weeks ago are almost ready for new, larger pots.
I didn't work on these seedlings over the weekend (they should be fine for a few more days as they are), because I focused my gardening energy on getting the seed potatoes planted outside.

The crop rotation schedule that I designed has a flaw in that, some years, the tomato-family plants end up with less space than I would prefer, because not all of my garden beds are the same size. This year, the tomato/potato/pepper/eggplant space is alarmingly tight.

To make sure there would be enough room for everything, I hacked up some more lawn out at the ends of two beds for potato-space. After peeling off the turf part, I dumped on an inch or so of compost and dug that a couple of inches down into the awful red clay. Then I layered on more compost, laid out the seed potatoes on top, then spread another couple of inches of compost over the seed potatoes.

After the seed potatoes have sent greenery up above the surface, I'll pile on some more compost, then finish the top off with some old hay. As the plants grow, I'll water them a few times with a little fish emulsion solution for an extra phosphorus kick. At least, that's the current plan.

While poking around online to decide whether my plan could work, I found a really great article in Mother Earth News about growing potatoes organically. The article "How to Grow Organic Potatoes" is an interview with Jim Gerritsen, a professional grower in Maine, that hits all aspects of growing, and it even includes information for gardeners here in the South. The article goes on for quite a few pages, but, for anyone planning to grow organic potatoes, it's worth taking the time to read.


  1. Happy to be gardening again! I don't do much in the winter except look longingly at old magazines and gardening books. My tomato seedlings look just about the same size as yours. I bump mine p into 3" peat pots and that is where they will stay till planting time. How do you feed/fertilize yours. I've been using a very diluted fish emulsion and spraying once per week. Do you do anything different? How are your peas coming along? I put one long row in a raised bed on the 9th and another row this past Saturday. I don't have a good potato spot so I'm trying an experiment this year - I am trying them in big tubs. The deep ones like you pack your camping equipment in. It won't be a bumper crop but hopefully enough to have real fingerling potatoes!

    Happy Spring!

  2. Hi Barbara! My seedlings are in a mix of 2 parts homemade compost, 2 parts sphagnum peat, and 1 part perlite. So far, they haven't needed extra feeding. When I bump them up to the next pot size, they'll go into more of the same mix. I don't expect to fertilize them until they go out to the garden, in 3 or 4 weeks. Then, I'll give them a little fish emulsion as a phosphorus boost, to encourage root growth. So I guess the shorter answer is Yes, I am doing something a little different, but only in how much and when to use the Fish emulsion, which is good stuff for seedlings.

    My peas are 2-3 inches tall. Not exactly spectacular growth, but the ground has been cold. I'm expecting them to put on some speed in the next few weeks. I planted another bed with peas yesterday as a cover crop. The rows are just 5 inches apart.

    I grew potatoes in a big black pot one year, and the yield was ok but not great. I think the soil got too hot in that black pot for good production (that's my current theory, anyway). If I were going to do that again, I'd try to shade the pot to keep the soil cooler. I'll be interested to hear how yours do. If you get oodles of little fingerling potatoes, I'll want to know how that was accomplished!

    I am so happy to hear from you and get an update on your garden's progress! Thanks for the note! -Amy


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