Of course, everyone knows it isn't REALLY garden planting time, but never hurts to get the ground ready early; right? And the early bird gets the worm etc. Ok, I'll get to the point.
A few days ago, I came across what was left of this year's pitiful potato crop. I had completely forgotten about the small box of spuds that hadn't rotted in the ground. I know, me forgetting about FOOD of all things is hard to believe but work with me on this. When I found them, they were seriously sprouted, more than ready to plant. As things happen, the next day, I read a post about the importance of planting potatoes early, on a blog I view occasionally.
No, I don't think they meant they should be planted THIS EARLY, but it got me thinking. With my naturally curious nature and a background in research, this situation was ripe for an experiment. I have always been inclined to push the limits a bit and test the tried and true methods, and this seemed like a prime opportunity.
At this point, a little background might be in order, so please bear with me. Several years ago, (in the mid-80's), I read a magazine article on a gardening method which involved digging up the soil in small beds, turning the top foot or so of soil and digging up the foot or so below that. I believe the article was in The Mother Earth News, if memory serves. I tried it and compared it to the conventional method of plowing the garden and planting rows. The comparison was interesting, and the beds tended to produce more vegetables on less ground with less watering and weeding. Since that time, I have moved to where I now live and have finally gotten enough rocks out to actually use a shovel.
Back in the here and now. With thoughts of digging up the garden in preparation for spring gardening, reading posts about planting potatoes, and finding potatoes already sprouted, the research experiment wheels started turning. The beds need dug anyway, never too early to add compost, and the moon phase being just past third quarter, (my preferred phase for planting root crops), and the potato sprouts won't last another couple of months. Obviously nothing to lose and knowledge to gain.
So today, it was off to the garden with a pick and shovel. I dug a hole in the garden about three feet by six feet and about eight inches deep, then used the pick to dig up the bottom of the pit about a foot deep. I then placed the potatoes on the bottom, and yes, I know they look very close together but, because the soil is worked up so deep, the roots have plenty of room to grow downward instead of sideways. I then covered the potatoes with compost a couple of inches deep, (it took about a contractor's wheel barrow full). Finally, I put the top layer of garden dirt back in.
Yes, I know the mound looks suspicious, but keep this in mind for fall decorations. A garden full of these beds and all that is lacking is tombstones and cobwebs.
I will certainly keep you all posted as to how this planting compares to later plantings, and it is my hope to plant one bed each month for comparison. Please let me know in the comments, what you think, or better yet, what your experiences have been. And wish me luck on a good potato crop.