Finally we have finished the fence around garden 3, so the dogs can’t get in anymore, and it is potato planting time. I have been looking forward to finally starting to plant potatoes.
A little over 2 months ago we flail mowed over this experimental compost bed, hoping to improve the decomposing process. On top the result looked nice, but underneath the straw was untouched. At the time we did not have a rotary tiller, which we would have preferred to use, so we just let the compost bed be and see what happens with time.
Now, 2 months later, after doing some digging we found the compost bed looking quite ok, but obviously the material has not broken down completely. At least the rainwater could soak in and all of the material was wet and the decomposing process has progressed. There are a lot of earthworms in the compost bed, which is a good sign.
The compost bed is not finished decomposing yet and I hope it will be good enough for the potatoes to start in. Since I have way to little planting space for all of the potatoes it will have to do.
Rotary tilling a part of the compost bed
Recently we found a used rotary tiller for an acceptable price and where able to purchase this. Not quite curtain about the usability of the compost bed and I was worried that the rotary tiller would kill all of the earthworms, we decided to rotary till half of the compost bed and see if it will make a difference in harvest once the potatoes are done.
The rotary tiller we have purchased was modified by the previous owner, who had fixed the retaining board in a certain position. Normally the retaining board is hung up with some chains enabling the board to move up and down as needed. Using a rotary tiller for the fist time we just left that how it was. We tilled over half of the experimental compost bed twice and noticed that we need to do something about the rigid retaining board. Since the compost material is very moist the rigid retaining board pulled grooves in the material, which I closed by hand.
Starting half way the compost bed some material was thrown over back wards on the part of the compost bed we did not till. I shovelled that back and made the tilled part of the compost bed nice and evenly. The tilled part of the compost bed looked nice and fluffy and was much higher as the part we did not till. All of the different material was mixed together well (small parts, bigger parts, already decomposed material).
Now to planting potatoes
I only have a lot of small potatoes left in my storage and these are al sprouting. (Unfortunately I am buying potatoes for eating at the moment) This means I have more than enough seed potatoes and I did not buy any.
This does raise the question as to where on earth am I going to plant all of these potatoes? Well, I am starting in this experimental compost bed and just go from there.
In the part of the compost bed that we tilled, it was very easy to make a trench in the loose material.
On the other hand I very much regretted not to have tilled the entire bed while making a trench in the part that we have not tilled. This material was ratter compact and hard work to make the trench.
I made two trenches about 50-60 cm apart. The distance in the row could have been a bit more, but the compost bed is not wide enough for that.
My son helped me and we planted the potatoes about 25-30 cm apart, paying attention to positioning the potato with the shoots pointing up. These shoots are going to be the leaves once grown out of the ground and need to be handled carefully. Some seed potatoes do not only have the shoots, but even already made some roots.
Last thing is closing the trench again. We planted different varieties and marked them with a number pack.
I only planted a fraction of the seed potatoes I have, so I am going to have to find some more solutions for all of these potatoes, but more to that in a different post.