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I’ve been preparing seed packets for our Gardener’s Fest on Sunday Sept 19 from 1 to 3PM.  Thus far, I have 100 seed packets (Luffa, cantaloupe, cucumber, tomato, common milkweed, and okra). I’ll also bring three very small jujube trees; some butternut squash transplants and some blackberry transplants.  All this seed packaging activity reminded me how important seed saving is and why I encourage it.

SEED SAVING -- AN IMPORTANT ROLE FOR THE GARDENER

#1 Reason:  To preserve genetic diversity

Seeds have become the domain of just a few big companies. These companies focus their attention on just a few varieties of each crop. It is cost-efficient for them to focus on selling the most popular and they can more easily control their patents on a few varieties as opposed to the plethora of choices offered by nature .  As farmers and gardeners stop saving seeds, we lose more and more varieties.

Losing seed diversity makes us all more vulnerable. While we love all of our open-pollinated and heirloom varieties for many reasons, like flavor, beauty, and frost resistance, just to name a few, we might also really need a variety’s particular traits someday.  For example, if a variety develops a vulnerability to a blight, there are fewer and potentially no other varieties of that plant in existence to cross pollinate with. 

A few years ago, Texas A&M was doing experiments with cross-pollinating of varieties of corn with Teosinte, the original plant from which all modern corn comes.  Why?  Because this ancient mother of all corn is highly disease resistant.  If people had not been wise enough along the way to save seeds from Teosinte, this would not have been possible. As a food, Teosinte has little value to the modern human.  It only has 8 to 12 kernels per ear.  They are very hard. The ancient ones of Guatemala where Teosinte originated,  pounded these kernels into meal which then was made into bread.  A friend of mine who was working on these experiments gave me some Teosinte seed.  I still have some saved.  We grew it in the garden for a few years.  We’ll plant some again in 2022.

Planting seeds from Plants Grown in Your Local Area are the Best!

These plants have adapted to your local climate and weather conditions and generally have a much better chance for being healthy than those from commercial seeds.  By the way, save the seeds from your largest and healthiest plants as not all plants (and thus their seeds) are created equal.

 

Saving seeds is a good way to connect with your Loved ones.
If your parents or grandparents are avid gardeners, ask them to save seeds from plants they have grown.  Growing plants from these seeds is a wonderful way to feel continuity with them for generations.

Continue your education about Seed Saving on the Internet as it abounds with related information.

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Be sure and mark your Calendar for this Sunday, September 19th!  From 1 to 3PM Loving Garland Green is having a garden fest at the Garland Community Garden.  Bring your seeds and plants to share along with your best garden story.  We are located at the junction of Brand and Naaman School Road in Garland 75040.



SO, WHAT’S LEFT TO PLANT FOR A FALL GARDEN IN NORTH TEXAS?

Green Bush Beans:  Plant by September 15. - 45 days to maturity {Harvesting around Halloween]

Lima Bush Beans:  Plant by September 15. -65-75 days to maturity. [About Thanksgiving]

Beets:  Plant by October 1 -  50-60 days to maturity {About Dec 1]

Broccoli:  Plant by September 30 - 60 days to maturity

Brussels Sprouts :  Plant by September 30 - 60 to 100 days to maturity

Cabbage:  Plant by September 30 - 60 to 90 days to maturity

Carrots: Plant by September 30 - 70-80 days to maturity

Cauliflower:  Plant by September 20 - 70 - 90 days to maturity

Chard Swiss:  Plant by September 15 - 45 -65 days to maturity

Collards:  Plant by September 22 - 60 to 80 days to maturity {transplants are available at nurseries now]

Kale:  Plant by September 22 - 50  to 80 days to maturity

Kohlrabi:  Plant by September 20 - 65 to 75 days to maturity

Lettuce:  Plant by September 30 - 40 to 60 days to maturity

Mustard:  Plant by September 30 - 30 to 40 days to maturity

Onion Plants:  Plant by September 15 - 80 to 120 days to maturity

Onion Seeds:  Plant by September 22 - 80 to 120 days to maturity

Parsley:  Plant by October 8 - 70 to 80 days to maturity

Peas English:  Plant by November 3 -  65-90 days to maturity

Radish:  Plant by Plant by November 17 - 25 -40 days to maturity

Spinach:  Plant by November 3 -40   to  60 days to maturity

Turnip:  Plant by November 3 - 30 to 60 days to maturity

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NOTE: Your fall garden in North Texas can have even more edibles, but these should be planted in August and  definitely before the end of the first week in September:  Winter Squash (such as Butternut and Acorn Squash);  pole beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant, okra, Irish potato, pumpkin, tomato.  You can still try your luck with most of these if they are healthy transplants but seeds are not recommended.

 

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Things are coming together as we approach the Sunday September 19th Event at the Garland Community Garden 1-3PM

I'm relieved for the rain to keep me out of the garden this morning but I've been working at my computer on some descriptions for the plants I'll be donating to our plant/seed exchange.  We will have many pots of Lemon Balm.  We have lemon balm all over the garden.  It grows well in North Texas and seems to thrive on neglect.

It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic). Even before the Middle Ages, lemon balm was steeped in wine to lift the spirits, help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings. Today, lemon balm is often combined with other calming, soothing herbs, such as valerian, chamomile, and hops, to promote relaxation. It is also used in creams to treat cold sores (oral herpes).

Native to Europe, lemon balm is grown all over the world.  The plant grows up to 2 feet high, sometimes higher if not maintained. In the spring and summer, clusters of small, light-yellow flowers grow where the leaves meet the stem. If not carefully controlled, lemon balm can quickly become invasive in the garden. Often, people mistakenly think that lemon balm is invasive due to its roots, like its cousins peppermint and spearmint, but in fact it’s the seeds of the lemon balm plant that cause this herb to suddenly take over a garden. Removing the flowers of the plant as soon as they appear will make your lemon balm far less invasive.

 

RECIPE:  Lemon Balm Pesto

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup lemon balm leaves firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 TB lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1.              Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

2.              Add salt and pepper to taste.

3.              Store in an airtight container for up to one week in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.

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The first of August, or perhaps last week of July, I posted an article on regrowing Romaine Lettuce and promised you an update.  Here it is.

Now I remember.  It had been a few years since I had done this, but the second week of August I cut off the top of some Romaine Lettuce and stuck it into water to grow.  It grew great the first two weeks.  Then, I put it in soil and gradually it began to get spindly and finally during the first week of September, it bit the dust.  Perhaps the solution is to eat the leaves when it is only about five inches tall and call it "gourmet baby lettuce."

Now it looks like the one I started a week later in August is headed down the same path.  I may try it again, but this time leave it in the water.  Several years ago I tried this with celery and it grew so well that I transplanted it into the Garden where it grew really well and I harvested off it for over two months.

GROWING POTATOES

I have successfully grown sweet potatoes for several years.  I decided to try my luck at growing potatoes that unlike sweet potatoes, belong to the nightshade family. [Many folks don't know this but the leaves of the sweet potato can be eaten as a fresh or cooked green but don't try this with other potatoes as they are member of the nightshade family!]

I followed the rules and ordered seed potatoes from a seed catalog.  No only were they late in coming (took a month), they were rotten!  So I went to the grocery store and bought  1.5 pounds of small red potatoes and  1.5 pounds of Irish Gold potatoes.  

I planted them about 10 days ago which is past the last date for planting potatoes in our area for a fall garden a that date is usually not past August 1.  Five days after planting the red potatoes germinated.  The small Irish Gold potatoes have get to germinate. [Note: one of the reasons to order seed potatoes is that you can be guaranteed they haven't been treated with anti-sprouting chemicals which some  of those found in grocery stores have been. 

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The first of August, or perhaps last week of July, I posted an article on regrowing Romaine Lettuce and promised you an update.  Here it is.

Now I remember.  It had been a few years since I had done this, but the second week of August I cut off the top of some Romaine Lettuce and stuck it into water to grow.  It grew great the first two weeks.  Then, I put it in soil and gradually it began to get spindly and finally during the first week of September, it bit the dust.  Perhaps the solution is to eat the leaves when it is only about five inches tall and call it "gourmet baby lettuce."

Now it looks like the one I started a week later in August is headed down the same path.  I may try it again, but this time leave it in the water.  Several years ago I tried this with celery and it grew so well that I transplanted it into the Garden where it grew really well and I harvested off it for over two months.

GROWING POTATOES

I have successfully grown sweet potatoes for several years.  I decided to try my luck at growing potatoes that unlike sweet potatoes, belong to the nightshade family. [Many folks don't know this but the leaves of the sweet potato can be eaten as a fresh or cooked green but don't try this with other potatoes as they are member of the nightshade family!]

I followed the rules and ordered seed potatoes from a seed catalog.  No only were they late in coming (took a month), they were rotten!  So I went to the grocery store and bought  1.5 pounds of small red potatoes and  1.5 pounds of Irish Gold potatoes.

I planted them about 10 days ago.  Five days after planting the red potatoes germinated.  The small Irish Gold potatoes have get to germinate. [Note: one of the reasons to order seed potatoes is that you can be guaranteed they haven't been treated with anti-sprouting chemicals which some  of those found in grocery stores have been.

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GETTING READY FOR SECOND BIG GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN EVENT OF 2021

On April 24 we celebrated our 7-year anniversary.  Sunday September 19th from 1 to 3 PM we will be celebrating our 2021 spring and summer gardens by sharing seeds and plants and swapping garden stories.

We are also planting a fall/winter garden in two raised beds.  One bed will be planted with winter greens seeds and the other one with root vegetable seed.  Our guests who want to participate will be invited to plant the seeds which Loving Garland Green will furnish--especially fun for children.  After planting the seeds, you can visit the garden often to watch them grow.  It's more fun than you may think.  The produce from these two beds will be devoted entirely to the Good Samaritans of Garland.

The Garland Community Garden is a little different from other community gardens. Our mission is to raise public awareness of the fun and healthy aspects of growing some of the food you eat.  Our garden is not designed for mass production. There is no uniformity to the garden whatsoever.  Our beds have come into being in the same organic fashion as the plants that grow in them.  We are here to have fun and inspire others.

This morning I am making the signs for these to beds.  I'll share them with you.  Hope to see you September 19th!  Bring seeds from plants. you've grown this year and plants to share as well if you have them.  I'm digging up some blackberries from my yard today.  Also I'll have a few small jujube trees as well as Okra and Luffa seeds to share. 

I'm really interested to see how the Komatsuna spinach grows.  I know from experience that Mustard grows like a weed in our area.  But a little bit of it goes a L-----ong  way.  In fact, I'll just go out on a limb and say that I don't like it.  But the Komatsuna sounds promising--provided that it grows like mustard and tastes like a tangy spinach.

 

FALL/WINTER GREENS


 

ROOT VEGETABLES

Root vegetables were very important to people of the world before refrigeration because they kept so well.  After harvesting they were stored in underground cellars, appropriately called "root cellars."  In addition fo the following root vegetables we already have sweet potatoes, baby red potatoes and Irish gold baby potatoes growing at the garden.  In addition to winter greens, other winter crops include varieties of winter squash such as Acorn squash and Butter nut Squash.  We have an entire large bed of Butternut squash in the garden that had already sprouted and should be producing by Thanksgiving. Broccoli and cabbage are two other popular plants for fall/winter gardens.

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THE EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE AT THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 19 - 1 TO 3PM

1. Prepare your own garden tale to share with others.  If you want to immortalize it write it down or be prepared to give others a link to you site where they can learn more.  Please limit to 5 minutes.

2.  Prepare a few seed packets of vegetables that grew well in your garden during 2021 to share with other gardeners.

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FOR THE FIRST HOUR:

1. Welcome by current Loving Garland Green President Elizabeth Berry

2. Introductions and garden tales

As we go around and introduce ourselves, people will have the opportunity to tell us about their gardening experiences for the past year, what/if they have planted a fall/winter garden, what grew well for them this past year, etc.--anything garden-related they want to talk about, perhaps even the story of how you started gardening in the first place

3. Plant and seed exchange

Those attending are invited to bring seeds and plants to share/exchange with others.  

Save seeds now from any vegetable that grew well in your garden this year and bring them to share with others.  Nothing is more reliable than seeds from successful plants grown in the area where they will be planted the next season.

4. Announcement of upcoming Sweet Potato & Luffa Shucking Event - October 24, 2021

We will close out the first hour by telling people about our next garden event.

 

FOR THE SECOND HOIUR

We will present a  fall/winter garden in  two metal box beds.  One plot will contain winter greens like kale and perpetual spinach and the other will be turnips and beets.  These beds are designated 100% to The Good Samaritans of Garland Texas.  This organization does so much good for the homeless and those who are in food crisis in our community.

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There will be Give Away items while they last:  Seeds, plants, fresh jujube fruit (tastes like small apples).

We will also feature jujube snacks that are available at local Asian markets.

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EXCERPTS FROM AN ARTICLE I POSTED IN SEPTEMBER OF 2016:

90 Year-Old Horticulturist Takes Care of a Five-Acre Jujube Orchard with 300 Trees

Chris Jacobsen on his tractor with his orchard of 300 jujube trees in the background – September 3, 2016

[Note:  I think Chris has since passed on, but no certain.]

FROM 2O16:

This past weekend I followed my own advice and visited Chris Jacobsen’s Jujube Etc. Farm. As I mentioned in a previous article, you can visit Mr. Jacobsen’s farm during September weekends:  10 to 5 on Saturdays and 2 to 6 on Sundays.  His 35-year old jujube orchard covers about five acres and contains 300 jujube trees.  The exact location of his 15-acre farm is 7904 County Road 572 in Farmersville, Texas 75442.  Chris, a remarkable man, manages this farm all by himself.  If you wish to visit other than on a Saturday and Sunday in September, please call him at 972-784-6480.

Chris began his long life in Denmark.  Like his father before him, Chris was educated as a horticulturist.  His father built one of the largest greenhouses in the southern area of Denmark.  It survived World War II—the teenage years of young Chris.  In the early ‘50’s when he was 26, Chris spent a year traveling all around the world—from the USA to Australia.  He ended up settling in the USA and going to work as a salesman for Stark Brothers Nurseries and Orchard Company. [Founded in 1816, Stark Brothers is one of the oldest nurseries in the USA.]  As it turned out Chris was assigned a sales territory in Texas.  I believe he settled in the Irving area and then in 1974 he bought his present homestead in the Farmersville area and settled there.  Since that time he has been very busy growing his beautiful jujube orchard.

The orchard is beautiful.  Its symmetry is a testimony to the professionalism of Chris Jacobsen who has planted, grafted, and tended each of these 300 trees for over 35 years. 

  

A few of the 300 trees in Chris Jacobsen’s Jujube Orchard – September 3, 2016.  Begun over 35 years ago, neither chemical sprays nor chemical fertilizers have been used in this orchard.  As far as we know, this is the only commercial jujube orchard in the USA.

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Will Chris Jacobsen’s Work Carry on?

I certainly hope so.  Its fate seems to be largely in the hands of a fellow named Bryan Gordon.  Bryan met Mr. Jacobsen several months ago through a fellow permaculturist and good friend of Chris Jacobsen.  Bryan is a horticulturist, permaculturist, and arborist. 

Over the last several months, Bryan has built a working relationship with Mr. Jacobsen. He volunteers when he can to assist Mr. Jacobsen in keeping his place in working order. In return Mr. Jacobsen is teaching Bryan how to carry on his dream of sharing jujubes and their healthy benefits with the world. In addition to learning how to graft the trees and take care of them, he is also learning how to make the Jujube products Mr. Jacobsen once sold such as soap, skin care products, capsules and more. Bryan hopes to incorporate a jujube orchard into his future farm plans and keep Chris' legacy going.

As far as the future of the farm, Mr. Jacobsen has donated the property to a Christian organization.

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Landon Winery Purchases Some of the Jacobsen Jujubes

 

Bob Landon served up samples of Landon Winery sherry made from Jacobsen Jujubes. Sherry from Jacobsen jujubes is delicious!  You can only find it at Landon Winery.

As an added treat on Saturday, Bob Landon of Landon Winery was at the farm on Saturday. Landon Winery has two locations: 101 North Kentucky Street in downtown McKinney and also a downtown location in Greenville, Texas at 2500 Lee Street.  Bob was giving out free samples of the sherry from the winery that was made with Jujubes from Mr. Jacobsen’s trees.  It was delicious.  Charlie bought a bottle for me.  It was quite a bargain.  I don’t know if Bob will be there again or not but it’s worth the drive out there to see.  If he is not there, you can always visit the Landon Winery in McKinney or Greenville.

We hope that a local grocery store will soon be featuring this delicious and international award-winning treat.  How special!  Local sherry produced from a local orchard—possibly the only commercial jujube orchard in the USA.  This sherry, a connoisseur’s choice, recently won the Lone Star International gold medal for excellence.

This sherry recently won a gold medal in the Lone Star International Wine Competition.

photo courtesy Jesse Patterson Photography 

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Kari and Jesse Patterson also came to pick jujubes today.  Mr. Jacobsen has some loyal followers and jujube fans!  This is Kari and Jesse’s third year to visit the farm.

 Jesse, a professional photographer, has taken some great photos of Mr. Jacobsen on his tractor and around the orchard.

See more of Jesse’s work at  JessePattersonPhotography.com

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Bowl of Jujubes hand-picked by Charlie from the Jacobsen Orchard– September 3, 2016

So, what’s all the fuss about jujubes?

The Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) is a remarkable fruit.  I would elevate it to the position of a super food such as kale.  It can be grown from Pennsylvania to Mexico.   It prefers hot and dry climates while it will tolerate temperatures a few degrees below zero.  While it’s a good choice for our Garland Community Garden (and we do have a small one growing there); it’s not an outstanding choice for most urban yards—unless you happen to be a dedicated gardener.

Jujubes Contain Betulinic Acid

Betulinic Acid has been found to selectively kill human melanoma cells while leaving healthy cells alive.  Due to its apparent specificity for melanoma cells, betulinic acid seems to be a more promising anti-cancer substance than drugs like Taxoi because Taxoi is a general cell poison and is not specific to cancer cells.  Also, betulinic acid has antibacterial properties and inhibits the growth of both Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Sources:  

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304383501007182

http://www.eurekaselect.com/69339 - http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/med.10053/full

Jujubes are packed with potassium and magnesium

Potassium is a proven heart strengthener while magnesium works in conjunction with potassium.  Jujubes increase the level of the body’s nitric oxide, restoring and dilating the blood vessels for better blood circulation.

And there is so much more to know regarding the healthy benefits of the jujube.  Just Google jujube and look at all the information that appears—from medical articles, to health products, to recipes.  I simply steep a bunch of jujubes in boiling hot water, strain off most of the pulp and drink the delicious and healthy tea.  The leaves of the jujube also can be used to make tea as well.

HAPPY JUJUBE TO YOU!

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More Information for You

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GETTING MAD

A couple have been continuing to come down to the Garland community garden and stealing, yes stealing, jujubes from a jujube tree and likely other produce as well.

We share our produce with the Good Samaritans of Garland. We realize many people are having a hard time making ends meet.  That is why we provide the contact information for Good Sam’s throughout the garden.  They are much better able to provide the full array of nutrition needed for a family than the produce from our garden which is limited.

We have a sign posted right by the jujube tree asking people to not pick produce in the garden You can’t miss it.  But there is more.  A few days ago, Charlie saw a woman picking jujubes and stopped in to tell her to please not pick the fruit.  She was certainly not contrite regarding her thievery.  Charlie got the license plate number of the car.  Then, Saturday.  when I was walking down to the garden with the mower to mow at about 7:30 in the morning,  I saw the car pulling out from the garden again.  They had been picking jujubes again!  Even after Charlie asked them not to 

How do I know? I know because I steward the jujube tree and like a shepherd with her flock, I know every branch of that tree that has fruit.   This year it was loaded.  I bought that  tree 3 years ago and paid $50 for it.  (I recently noticed on the Internet they sell now for $59.)  I have watered, trimmed and taken care of that tree for three years.  Jujube is a tree that is native to Asia.  It is very drought tolerant and its nutritious fruits are similar to dates when ripe and like crispy apples when green.  One of my reasons for planting it down at the garden was to introduce people in our community to this tree and its fruit.  Outside of our Asian community, few in our area have even seen a jujube.

 

We will have a few (7) small Jujube trees to give away at our September 19th event.  This tree spreads by underground runners--not unlike the blackberry.  If you plant one jujube tree and do nothing, you will have an orchard in 15 years.

 

The Jujube is roughly the size of a golf ball, but slightly oblong in shape.  Although many say the ripe jujube tastes like a date, my taste buds tell me it tastes more or less like i imagine construction paper to taste.  However, I find the green jujubes to be delicious.  They remind me of Granny Smith apples but not nearly so tart. Of course, the best way to consume them is all by themselves, but I imagine they would make a great jujube pie.

 

 

GETTING EVEN

Charlie and I went down to the garden with a ladder and picked just about 95% of all the jujubes left on the tree.  This yield represents about 50% of the total yield this year for the tree.  The thieves got the rest. Still, I am happy for these as I’m sure it will be enough for those who want to sample something new at our September 19th event.

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I was busy in the garden this morning--busy ignoring guidelines for planting potatoes for a Fall/Winter Gardens in North Texas.  First of all,  sweet potatoes/yams are to be planted once a year in May only.  They are harvested about  two weeks before Thanksgiving.  However, all other potatoes can be planted twice a year:  once in the early spring (Late February/early March)  and once again in early to mid-August for a late fall harvest--110 days prior to the first frost which usually happens around November 24.  These potatoes, unlike sweet potatoes mature in 60 to 90 days.

Thus, today, almost two weeks past the recommended deadline I planted 1.5 pounds of Baby Red potatoes and 1.5 pounds of Baby Dutch Yellow potatoes.  Both of these potatoes are small and rather pricey in the grocery store and they are delicious boiled, cooked with a pot roast, or roasted in the oven or on the grill.

Ignoring the dates on the planting calendar was not the only rule I broke. The potatoes I planted came from the grocery store.  A week ago I had ordered seed potatoes from a nursery on the Internet.  They arrived yesterday and were all mushy with black mold.  So, we will see if these potatoes I bought at the grocery store will even germinate into plants.  Since these are small, I planted the whole potato as opposed to cutting it into several pieces.

Here is the process:

1. Dig up the soil to about 8 inches deep.

2. Level -ff soil with a hoe or rake.

3. Water thoroughly

4. Insert one potato at a time into the soil. Push it into the wet soil so only the tip is showing.  Only the top with a few eyes exposed should show.

5. Cover potatoes with about ½ inch of soil.

6. Spread 6 inches of hay over the bed and water thoroughly.  Keep the hay and soil moist for the next 12 to 16 days.

[Potato sprouts should appear within 12 to 16 days.]
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When sprouts are about five to six inches tall, add a mixture of two parts hay to one part soil to the top of the existing straw layer.  This new layer should be up the leaves on the stem. As the potato grows potatoes will grow from the stem in this layer of soil and hay.  Repeat the process again when the stalk has grown another 5 or six inches.  Potato stalks can reach up to 40 inches.  The dotted box in the illustration below shows how each six inches of staw/soil layer creates a growing area for new potatoes to sprout off the stem.

 

By the time I add the third layer of hay and soil, I may build a wire enclosure around it, or  I may continue to add layers Ruth Stout style with a somewhat unconstructed mulch pile. 

This method gives a high yield in a small space--ideal for growing potatoes in an urban garden since growing potatoes can take up a lot of space.  There are many ways, some of them quite elaborate, for constructing towers for growing potatoes vertically.