Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: potatoes

Why Won’t Your Garden Plants Produce?

Bushel of potatoes

You planted a garden, but it did not produce. The plants may have grown nice and large, but they did not produce anything. What could be wrong?

The simple answer is – Plants need certain certain types of fertilizer depending on what they produce. Using the wrong fertilizer may cause the plant to grow large, but may not produce.

What brought this topic up? I posted a video talking about how to pick out seed potatoes. Ethical Preparedness asked a question about growing potatoes..

If the reader does not subscribe to Ethical Preparedness YouTube channel, get over there and subscribe. He makes some excellent videos.

People prepping for a long term collapse, or just a backyard gardener should understand how certain nutrients affect the garden.

Everything written here is from memory.

Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash

Cutting Seed Potatoes For Planting

Cutting potatoes before planting

Potato planting time is just around the corner. In the southern part of the united States it is common to plant around February 14th. Or anywhere between the middle of February to the first of March.

When planting potatoes there is a common misconception that the whole potato has to be planted. That simply is not true. It is possible to grow multiple plants from a single potato. this is done by cutting a chunk of the potato along with an “eye.” A potato eye is another name for the sprout. Potatoes will have multiple sprouts coming off of them. Simple cut the sprout along with a chunk of the potato off.

After cutting the eye off the potato, some people dip the cutting in lime or fireplace ashes. Then allow the cutting to dry for a few days before planting. Some people say the lime or ashes help prevent the cutting from rotting.

Starting Spring 2017 Garden

The weather in early 2017 has been unseasonably warm, so I decided to go ahead and start the spring garden a few weeks early. I usually do not plant until after the Ides of March. With everything blooming out early and daytime highs hitting the low 80s, I decided to start planting in late February.

This garden will be special, as it uses decade old seeds. I posted a video on youtube about stockpiling seeds and then shared the video on survivalistboards, twitter and reddit. A couple of guys on reddit said made statements that seeds can not be saved.

The Season of Plenty Beans Figs and Potatoes

Snap beans for a shtf survival garden

The season of plenty is upon us. On Saturday June 14, 2014 the grandkids, my wife and I dug 4 1/2 bushels of potatoes, beans are doing good, fig trees have figs on them.

Here in southeast Texas we had an unusually cold and wet winter. We got snow 4 times this year. One of the storms blanketed the farm with 3 inches of snow.

Around 1964 there was a storm that dumped 2 feet of snow in southeast Texas. My dad remembered having to get the chickens out of the snow and put them in the chicken house for the night. Nobody I talked to remembers a winter like what we experienced here in Southeast Texas in 2013 – 2014.

Because of the cold wet weather I postponed planting potatoes for a couple of weeks. Instead of planting in mid-February we planted in early March. This meant the potatoes would be ready to dig later. Instead of mid-late May, the potatoes were ready in early-mid June.

Tips on Storing Home Grown Potatoes

Half bushel of fresh potatoes

How do you store potatoes? So far this year the potato harvest has gone well. I have probably gotten close to 3 bushels, and that has not even made a big dent in the garden.

If you had a shed or a barn, you could put down a layer of hay, layer of potatoes, layer of hay, layer of potatoes,,,, until all the potatoes are covered with hay.

Space the potatoes so that they are not stacked on top of each other. The spacing allows airflow and will help prevent potato rot.

The layers of hay add a cushion between the potatoes and will help prevent rot.

  • Keep the potatoes out of direct sunlight. It is ok to put them in the sun for a little while. But do not leave potatoes in direct sunlight all day. Sunlight releases a toxin in the potato, which will turn the potato green.
  • Be careful when harvesting potatoes as to not bruise them.
  • Do not wash the potatoes, just wipe the heavy dirt off.

Besides a shed or barn potatoes can also be stored in a bushel basket.

Tips on Digging Backyard Garden Potatoes

Grandkids digging potatoes

Nothing brings mankind closer to the earth than digging potatoes. There is a certain joy in working the soil, planting seeds, watching the plants grow, taking care of the plants, then harvesting the fruits of your labor. This is especially true with potatoes.

Digging potatoes like opening a present, you do not know what it is until you open the box. The same is true with potatoes. You do not know what is in the ground until you start digging.

There are other options besides digging potatoes by hand.

Middle buster or plow

If you have a tractor, hook up the middle buster or plow, whatever you have, then slowly run the blade through the middle of the row. The potatoes will roll up to the top of the ground. Once the potatoes have been rolled to the top of the ground, simply walk along and pick them up.

Using a middle buster or plow to harvest potatoes is quick and easy. When you are dealing with a lot of land, quick and easy is good.

Potato fork

Potato Plants Three Weeks After Planting

Potato plant

The potatoes were planted March 1st. Here we are three weeks later and the potatoes are starting to break through the soil. One of my favorite times after planting is seeing the first sprouts break through the top of the ground.

When the cuttings were planted they were not planted in a mound. The mound will be made as the plant grows.

A common question is how far down do you plant the seed potatoes? I usually plant them about 3 inches deep, or the width of your hand. With well drained sandy soil the potato sprout will have no problem pushing to the top of the soil.

The next step is to let the plant get maybe 6 inches tall, spread some fertilizer along the the row, then use a rake the pull dirt up around the plant. We want to use a balanced fertilizer, such as 13-13-13, or 10-20-10, and some bone meal.

Do not use a nitrogen rich fertilizer as the potato top will grow but no tubers will grow.

Planting Potatoes For The 2014 Garden

Growing potatoes

If you plan on gardening during a long term SHTF event, the potato is one of your best friends. Not only are potatoes easy to grow, but they also store well, are easy to cook with, and any remaining potatoes at the end of the year can be replanted for next years crop.

Unlike a lot of crops that require special storage, such as canning and/or drying, just keep potatoes dry and in a cool dark place and they will store for close to a year.

Small potatoes can be eaten straight out of the ground. Larger ones can be baked, boiled, mashed, or made into a soup.

Potatoes grow well in loose soil free from rocks, sticks, tree roots and other obstructions. Work the soil with a tiller, plow, disk,,, something that will break the soil up. Make the rows, add fertilizer, I like to mix the fertilizer into the soil using a tiller, then plant the seed potatoes. Plant the seed potatoes about 3 inches deep and about 12 – 18 inches apart.

Old style potato farming

In no other form can so large an amount and value of human food be obtained from an acre of ground as in that of edible roots or tubers; and of these the Potato is by far the most acceptable, and in most general use. Our ancestors, it is settled, were destitute and ignorant of the Potato prior to the discovery of America, though Europe would now find it difficult to subsist her teeming millions without it. In travelling pretty widely over that continent, I cannot remember that I found, any considerable district in which the Potato was not cultivated, though Ireland, western England, and northern Switzerland, with a small portion of northern Italy, are impressed on my mind as the most addicted to the growth of this esculent.

Other roots are eaten occasionally, by way of variety, or as giving a relish to ordinary food; but the Potato alone forms part of the every day diet alike of prince and peasant. It is an almost indispensable ingredient of the feasts of Dives, while it is the cheapest and commonest resort for satiating or moderating the hunger of Lazarus. I recollect hearing my parents, fifty years ago, relate how, in their childhood and youth, the poor of New-England, when the grain-crop of that region was cut short, as it often was, were obliged to subsist through the following Winter mainly on Potatoes and Milk; and I then accorded to those unfortunates of the preceding generation a sympathy which I should now considerably abate, provided the Potatoes were of good quality.

Old Fashioned Potato Recipes

Bushel of potatoes

PARSLEY PIES

Mash and season with butter and salt half a dozen boiled white potatoes, add a little grated onion and chopped parsley.

Sift together in a bowl 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoonful baking powder and a little salt.

Add a small quantity of milk to one egg if not enough liquid to mix into a soft dough.

Roll out like pie crust, handling as little as possible. Cut into small squares, fill with the potato mixture, turn opposite corners over and pinch together all around like small, three-cornered pies. Drop the small triangular pies into boiling, salted water a few minutes, or until they rise to top; then skim out and brown them in a pan containing a tablespoonful each of butter and lard.

Germans call these “Garden Birds.” Stale bread crumbs, browned in butter, may be sprinkled over these pies when served. Serve hot.

These are really pot pie or dumplings with potato filling.

BEEF STEW

1 lb. of meat from the neck, cross ribs, shin or knuckles

1 sliced onion

¾ cup carrots

½ cup turnips

1 cup potatoes

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ cup flour

1 quart water

Soak one-half of the meat, cut in small pieces, in the quart of water for one hour. Heat slowly to boiling point.

Season the other half of the meat with salt and pepper. Roll in flour. Brown in three tablespoons of fat with the onion. Add to the soaked meat, which has been brought to the boiling point. Cook one hour or until tender.

Add the vegetables, and flour mixed with half cup of cold water. Cook until vegetables are tender.

Stockpiling Seeds For a Survival Garden

zucchini survival garden

Lets talk about stockpiling seeds and the value of having the ability to plant a survival garden. Stockpiling food – dried rice, beans, canned goods – is fine and dandy, but that is a none renewable resource. When you eat that can of beans, are you going to plant the can, and maybe it will sprout a canned bean plant, for you to pick more cans off of? I don’t think do.

Stockpiling food provides a family with a limited food source.

Stockpiling seeds and having a garden can provide an unlimited food supply.

2,000+ years ago, did the Romans and Egyptians have canned foods and mylar bags? Nope, they raised what they wanted to eat. What about the Greeks and the Chinese, did they have mylar bags full of rice and beans? Nope, they raised what they ate.

There is nothing wrong with stockpiling food. It appears to me that a lot of survivalist put more focus on stockpiling a limited food source, then on learning how to develop an unlimited food source.

Corn Seed

Maybe one of the most versatile crops grown today. The kernels can be ground to make a type of flour, or they can be dried for long term storage. Corn can be ground or fed whole to all kinds of livestock – cows, chickens, pigs,,,,,,.

Planting a Community Garden After SHTF

Working field with tractor and tiller

In these tough economic times, its important for people to come together. ne way that families can work together to save money, is to plant a community garden.

In this example, 3 families, it breaks down to 11 people, 6 adults and 5 children are working together to plant a garden. This garden will be shared equally between everyone involved.

The land we are planting on belongs to my step son and step daughter. Its some family land their grandfather left them after he passed away a few years ago. I’am guessing the plot we are using in the video is about 1/4 acre. There is another plot we are going to plant water melons on. And a smaller spot we are going to plant okra on.

Planting Potatoes, Peas and Corn In a Survival Garden

Growing potatoes

Potatoes, peas and corn – plant them in that order.

Commercial grade fertilizer has 3 numbers, such as 13-13-13. Those three numbers stand for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (also called Pot Ash).

nitrogen – large leaves, tall growth – greens, spinach, corn, okra
phosphorus – root growth – potatoes, turnips
potassium / pot ash – pod production – peas, beans, corn, okra, squash

Potatoes – use fertilizers with a high middle number, such as 10-20-10 fertilizer. The higher phosphorus content helps promote root growth. The potatoes can be harvested and eaten at anytime. Just dig around the base of the potato plant and pull out the potatoes when you want some to cook. Or, wait until the top of the plant dies, then you know the potatoes are full grown and ready to harvest.

How to Harvest Home Grown Potatoes

Bushel of potatoes

Once the tops of the potato plants start to die it is time to harvest the potatoes, Which is usually about 3 or 4 months after planting. To harvest the potatoes, pull the top of the potato plant up and then dig the dirt up around the plant.

The potatoes will be easy to damage, so dig up with care. Try not to use tools such as shovels as they can damage the potato.

Some people use cloth gardening gloves to help protect their hands from injury (from debris in the dirt) and to prevent getting dirt under their finger nails.

One way to quickly harvest the potatoes is to run a plow down the middle of the row. This will roll the dirt up and bring the potatoes to the surface.

After the potatoes have been Harvested, store them in a cool dry place. Some people will put down a bed of straw, layer of potatoes, layer of straw, layer of potatoes. When they need the potatoes, dig through the straw and dig some out.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018