Friday, March 12, 2010

You say potato. I say, "Mmmm, potatoes!"

I'm beginning to plant my spring vegetable garden. There's not much going on yet, just some peas, lettuce, blackberries, and a few herbs. I have packets of all kinds of seeds and some onion starts just waiting to go in the ground, and I hope to get a lot of them going this weekend. The other day I decided to try my hand at something new: potatoes. I don't know how well they'll take to the Los Angeles climate, but I thought I'd give 'em a shot.

Here's their new home. Growing potatoes in the ground can take up a ton of space, so I thought a container of some sort would be the best way to go. One of my favorite gardening books, McGee & Stuckey's The Bountiful Container, explains how to grow potatoes in a garbage can. You drill holes in the bottom of the can for drainage, put some potting soil in, lay the potatoes in the soil, and put more soil on top. As the potatoes send their vines up, you continue to cover the exposed stem and leaves with more soil, until finally you have a container of dirt shot through with new potatoes growing out from the vines sent out by the potatoes 'way down at the bottom. A co-worker who has worked as a nurseryman advised me to drill some holes in the sides of the garbage can, too, to aid with aeration. (He also suggested I mix some common garden soil in with the potting soil, which I did not do. Sorry, John.) I raised the can up on some bricks to further aid with drainage, as well as covering the bottom of the inside with pebbles to keep the potting soil from flowing out of the quarter-inch holes. I am going to try growing them in the space between our garage and guest house, which is sheltered but gets some sun around midday. I honestly don't know how well they'll perform.

There they are! They are Yukon Golds, probably my favorite potato. (I say "probably," because I don't think I've ever met a potato I didn't like.) I'm already planning all the potato salads, hash browns and garlic mashed potatoes I'm going to make from them. Hmmmm, I wonder if I can freeze them? I'll have to look into that. I only used about half the seed potatoes I ordered from Seeds of Change, so I've asked my friend Sherri if she'd like the rest; if she says no, then I'm off to buy another garbage can and plant a second batch.

You can't have too many potatoes. At least, I can't.

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