Archive for July, 2010

Well, it was more like “homestead-sitting,” but recently we kept an eye on the chickens, goats and sheep of friends for three days while they were away.  Our duties were pretty minimal, but it was a first time for us in dealing with an electric fence and reaching under hens to remove the eggs.  Our life here continues to teach us new things! [BTW, we get our eggs from these friends, and those eggs are the best!  Totally different from store-bought.]

This was our first season growing potatoes, and I’d decided–to Monika’s skepticism–to try growing “straw potatoes,” which replaces dirt hilling of potato plants with a layer of straw.  However, following Barbara Damrosch’s advice in The Garden Primer, I planted the potatoes just barely beneath the soil surface, instead of on top, as is often done in straw potato culture.

In any case, my potatoes gave me a scare through the spring and early summer, as the plants grew healthily but no potatoes seemed evident below the straw I piled on.  But Monika was convinced that there had to be potatoes there, and so today she and I went down to the potato patch, pitchfork  and broadfork in hand, and found that there were indeed lots of potatoes, but they’d chosen to grow underground rather than above in the straw.  (This probably means that I planted the potatoes a little too deeply, but all’s well that ends well and I’ve concurred with Monika that we should revert to more traditional hilling practice next year.)

Our harvest for four of our almost 80 plants was about ten pounds of potatoes, which suggests an eventual harvest of well over 200 pounds.  Most importantly, at dinner tonight the Satina early-season potatoes we harvested left our store-bought potatoes in the dust (and headed for the compost pile, such was the difference).  In addition to the remaining Satina, three other varieties of German origin are due to follow: Romanz, Carola, and German Butterball, all from the Maine Potato Lady.

Note: The dinner picture above also includes pesto made from garden Thai and lemon basil and garlic; a sauté of garden onion, garlic, swiss chard, squash, and tomatoes; and three varieties of garden tomatoes.  Hard to eat much more local than that!