The potatoes arrived last weekend. Since I needed to place them in indirect light so they can begin sprouting prior to planting, I decided to use the top of a plastic storage bin to hold the potatoes while sprouting. After I settled on this idea, I had a vision of my kids becoming interesting in the potatoes on the lid and mixing them all up. So I decided to label each potato with a marker to make sure that even if they get handled, I’ll still know what is what. Just a week has gone by and the potatoes are beginning to sprout. Now my question is how long the sprouts should be prior to planting. Today would be an excellent day to plant potatoes, so if anyone knows if I should go ahead, let me know.
Also on my list this weekend is to draw out an actual plan for the garden. I’ve purchased all my seeds and have started a number of crops already, but I haven’t built a master plan of what to plant where and when. The risk I have is that I will under utilize the space I now have in the garden. Last year, I had one raised planting bed. Now I have eleven raised beds and sixteen wine barrels. I also have the lasagna bed planting area. As you can see from the video tour, this is obviously way more space than last year and I want to be sure to get the best use out of it as possible.
Also on our list today is to build a chicken tractor. The chickens are set up nicely in their coop, but we want to build a portable chicken run so the chickens can spend time grazing on grass. Unfortunately, it isn’t feasible for us to let the chickens go completely free range. Between neighborhood dogs, local birds of prey, and raccoons, we would be sure to lose birds if we allowed them to roam free. So a chicken tractor will be a good compromise. Maybe we’ll build something like this. To give credit where credit will be due, Derek will be taking on this project.
And finally, I’m really excited to report that we have some actual sun today. The weather reporter had threatened us with rain all weekend, so it was a great surprise to wake up to sunny skies this morning and an updated report of mostly sunny weather. This means I will definitely find some time this weekend to hang out in the greenhouse with no other purpose than to soak up the warmth and read a book.
Our chicken solution for the critters…we keep them cooped in through out the day…then we go out in the evenings and let them run while we are present. The wild things and the neighborhood dogs keep their distance while we are out. The chickens have learned to stay fairly close to the coop while they scratch through leaves and munch wild goodies… like baby snakes. They began finding them in would you believe December! The first one was caught on Christmas Day!
Sandy – I got started trenching for potato planting this afternoon (taking advantage of that sunshine you mentioned!). I am planning to finish the potato planting process tomorrow assuming the decent weather holds for me. As for how much to have sprouted before planting, ideally it is just the beginnings of a sprout – so it sounds like you are ready to go! If the sprout is too long it will actually just break off while the seed piece is being planted. A small sprout though is less likely to get damaged and assures you that the seed piece is awake and ready to get serious about growing from the moment it is placed in the ground.
On the master plan, I have one that I made quite a while ago for the 2009 garden, but I have already made modifications and decided today to modify it even more! It’s a good process to do though – because it sets up the basic expectations and layout – just be prepared to have it be a living plan that changes occassionally.
Thanks DoubleD! Yes, I have nice small sprouts right now on the potatoes. Looks like I’ll be heading out for planting tomorrow. I hope I get at least a small window of opportunity weather-wise to get out there.
I did a rough plan of my garden on Friday and realized I have room for a couple more varieties, I’m thinking celeriac & parsnips. Plans are tough when you are considering spring, summer & fall crops and what needs to go where so it is done to make way for the next crop. Stressful!
Enjoy your potato planting and good luck with the chicken tractor.