My potatoes are on the way!  The photo above was taken at Garland Urban Garden Location: 216 East Kingsbridge Drive March 27.   The traditional ideal time for planting potatoes in most parts of the country is around February 22, President's Day.  I planted my potatoes about 10 days earlier, around February 11 this year, to give them a head start on the heat.

Who will win?  the potatoes or the heat?

Here in North Texas, I think a little closer to the first of February is better for most years.  About four weeks later they will start to peek through the soil as shown above.  When these sprouts are about six inches high, I'll cover them in loose soil up to underneath their leaves.  Then a few weeks later I'll repeat that process.  I'll continue to do this until the plant blooms.  At that time, some of the potatoes near the bottom will be ready to harvest.

In our neck of the woods it's always a race to see who wins--the gardener and the potatoes or the Texas heat.  Potatoes prefer cool weather.  They do not do well in temperatures that climb into the 90s, much less into the triple digits.  

The timing for planting is tricky for us with our fickle weather as planting should not be earlier than two weeks before the last anticipated freeze of 28 degrees F or less.


More on Potato Growing

Ruth Stout (a.k.a. "The Mulch Queen")

For the REALLY lazy urban farmer:  Throw pieces of seed potatoes on the ground and cover with mulch, straw or leaves.  I've never done this before, but in late September, when some of my other crops are spent, I'm going to try it this year and see what happens.  In addition, I'll throw in some buckwheat seed to grow with the potatoes.  The green manure value of the buckwheat, which grows almost instantly like a weed, will help replenish the soil and also nourish the potatoes as buckweat supplies a lot of nitrogen for the soil.

Planting potatoes in deep mulch on uncultivated ground is called the Stout Method.  It is name after an old-time organic gardener, Ruth Stout.   Ms. Stout, born in 1884,  has the title of "Mulch Queen" and she claimed to have smashed saloons with Carrie Nation.  But her labor-saving mulching techniques are what she is remembered for.  She lived to be 96 and wrote several lively gardening books including Gardening Without Work  [ISBN: 9780981928463]

See also:  Potato Planting Time--Doing it!

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