Potato Planting Time in Lower Alabama!

It’s time to plant potatoes again.

Our previous potato patches were less than satisfactory. Though we reaped more than we sowed, it wasn’t a lot more. The “soil” at our previous location was truly terrible, and many of our potatoes were attacked by boring insects, got weird rot and scab issues, or simply failed to produce much of anything. Sometimes we’d plant a piece of potato and only reap one tuber from the effort. This in spite of fertilizing, mounding the soil and planting nice, big, widely spaced rows. We even staggered plantings through the end of January into March, hoping to hit the perfect sweet spot of timing in at least one of our attempts.

The soil is much better here, so we’re hoping for some decent yields. Our best performer at the previous property was Yukon Gold, but we’re not sure if that was a fluke, so we’re testing the four most commonly sold varieties in our area yet again.

They are: Yukon Gold, Kennebec, Red Pontiac and Red La Soda.

The ground has been fed with aged cow manure from our cows, as well as a sprinkling of wood ashes. I hope to mix up some Solomon’s Gold again – we just need to inventory what we have left and what we’re missing. It worked remarkably well on our previous test plot of vegetables, though it’s truly high effort to find all the ingredients and get them mixed.

We now have a secret weapon on the mixing, however. With our new property we ended up inheriting a small electric cement mixer. Instead of paying a child to pour buckets of amendments back and forth to mix them, we can now dump a large quantity of everything into the barrel of the mixer and let it spin for a few minutes, then dump everything out into a convenient sealed trashcan we can keep near the garden. The kids really didn’t like mixing all the dusty stuff, even with pay, so they won’t mind. In fact, they’ll probably love using the cement mixer once we show them how to use it.

We did find that our earliest potato planting last year did the best, so we went ahead and planted most of our potatoes over the last couple of days. We still have a box of live seed potatoes I saved from last year, so those will probably get stuck here and there through the Grocery Row Gardens as we find space.

Potatoes are one of of very favorite things to grow. They’re (usually) easy to grow, fun to dig, and of much better flavor than store-bought tubers.

Wish us luck.

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