While much of the country is still in the throes of winter; with ice storms and record snowfalls, my brain is...THINKING SPRING!
I live in the Gulf Coast area of Texas. While we do get freezing temperatures (and had 1 inch of snow in December, first recordable snowfall in 23 years here!), right now I have to get my gardening planned out for Spring here. In four to six weeks I will be able to put seedlings out! I am planning out the *cold weather* seedlings I can start now and put out. (The term *cold weather* being completely relative...around here people bundle up like Eskimos if the it is under 60 degrees!)
So, I am planning on potatoes, tomatoes, various greens, butternut squash, watermelon, various herbs and other growing goodies.
I am basically lazy when it comes to gardening. I want the most return for the least amount of work. (Don't we all!?!?)
Today...I am figuring up my expenses on potatoes. I like potatoes, all kinds. Russet, Yukon Gold, Peruvian Blue...love them all. I guess it's the Irish blood in me!
But potatoes have a reputation of being *labor intensive*. All that digging and grubbing about in the dirt! I don't want to do that...do you?
So, I use potato towers. No digging...start to finish!
Here's some instructions and I will try to find some pics online to post for you....(I really need a camera, don't I?)
Get some chicken wire or old fencing that's about 3' tall. Or, get old tires, you'll need 4 for each tower.
Line the inside with newspapers, burlap, cloth, an old sheet, the kids school papers - anything you might have on hand to keep the contents from falling out.
If using tires, put 1st tire on ground. TAA-DAA! (That's it)
Fill with leaves. You can mix in a bit of dirt if you have some that you need to get rid of. If you don't have any leaves, watch the sides of the road to help others "recycle" their leaves. Also, the city might have collection trucks that will drop off enough leaves to get you started.
Take some potatoes out of your pantry .We all have those potatoes that start growing. Cut into pieces. The little "eyes" that grow if you leave them setting to long is where the plants start their growth. You want at least 1 "eye" per piece. Less eyes = less potatoes, but large ones. More eyes = more potatoes - but very small. You decide what size potatoes you'd like to have. Or you can go to the local feed/seed store and buy potato *sets*. (What I usually do)
Just stick several pieces of potato down in the leaves & cover. As they grow, you will want to continue to cover the stems with more leaves, because the potatoes grow along these shoots.If doing the tire tower, as the potato shoots grow, add leaves/dirt and add a tire, add more leaves/dirt, let grow some more, add tire and so forth.
NO MORE DIGGING TATERS! At the end of the season, harvesting is nothing more than tipping the towers over - untying the ends & letting the potatoes spill out! You rake the "now" composted leaves onto your garden!
A great idea for these potato towers: line them up in rows, or around the perimeter of your garden for a great living garden fence! (That'll confuse the bejeebers outta the rabbits!) I sometimes--when I use the chicken wire method, plant a faster growing *viney* crop in the ground next to the potato tower, such as some beans.
I have seen some potato towers spill out a hundred pounds of potatoes! Not a bad haul for very little effort!
So, think SPRING! Those in Northern climes, drool over those seed catalogs and get out your paper and sketch out your gardens, make your plans!