Sunday, May 25, 2014

potato crazy

demonstration gardens serve a purpose.  they allow gardeners to demonstrate how something could or should be grown.  more importantly, the garden is a teaching tool for both the visitors and believe it or not, the master gardeners who work there.  the name "master gardener" is a serious misnomer.  we are not masters, we are students of the garden and it schools us regularly!

 for this years lesson, we have decided to experiment with potatoes.  four different varieties, terra rosa, purple majesty, austrian crescent fingerling and bintje potatoes will be planted around the garden in different manners all to see what does and doesn't work.

for the first method, we built a raised lasagna bed.  we had an empty 4'x4' bed and decided to put it to use for this experiment.  to create a lasagna bed, we used the materials we had on hand in the garden.  the first layer into the bed was from our most recent delivery of wood chips, it took about 6 cubic feet to fill the bed about a third of the way.

 the next layer into the bed was about 6 cubic feet of mulched leaves.  

 this was followed by about 6 cubic feet of our compost.  at this point, the bed was full to the top of the wood.  however, anyone that has used this method knows that the materials will compact quite a bit.

 to compensate for the expected compaction, we added several layers above the top of the wood.  to get it started, we used straw.

we finished it off with another layer of leaves and a thin layer of compost and now the bed is ready to be planted with potatoes.  the potatoes planted in this bed will not be hilled.  we will simply sink them in and see how they do.  we have another bed in the garden where we are using a no-hilling method and so far, the potatoes are beginning to bloom.

to try other methods, a group of small plastic crates was added to the area.  for the potatoes grown in these crates, we will use different materials.  two crates have compost, two will have straw and the last two will have mulched leaves.  the last structures will be deeper so that we can simulate hilling-we will need to purchase the supplies for these exhibits.