Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Potato Experiment

I have been looking lustfully at English potato barrels. They look so nice and I like the idea of slipping up the sides and sneaking a few new potatoes. And I have relatives in England who might be persuaded to buy such pots and ship them to me. But not for the hefty cost of £35 each! (about $70 and I'm not including what it would cost to ship)

My greatest success with potatoes was when I put them in the raised beds. But they were difficult to dig up at harvest time and I've been chasing potatoes in that bed ever since. I'll admit that it's fun to find them when turning the bed in Spring and Fall. But I tend to find them with the fork stuck straight through the center of the spud and then the ones I miss pop up in odd places, like where the garlic is growing now. Strangely enough, I've even found potatoes in the planters on the deck 12 feet above the garden! My only guess is a bird re-planted a spud it had dug up.

So container planting is my preferred method, but I haven't found a pot that reliably produces a big crop. So far all my other "potato tower" and container potatoes have been of limited success. The "potato tower" barely yielded the same weight as the starter potatoes that I put in. Once I had a sizable crop from a container (where the potato sprung up magically). I keep planting that same pot, but it's never produced the same yield.

I've been hoping that an American vendor would show some interest in buying potato pots, and then I would purchase from there - but it hasn't caught on. I did notice now sell potato grow sacks, but I'm afraid the gophers would make short work of those. But why not look for a pot the same size as the grow bags? I have some "tree size" pots that I now have some potatoes growing in. I believe it is classed as a #15 tree size pot and it measures 15" in diameter and 18" tall. The picture here shows them next to a pile of classic "1 gallon pots".

It's smaller than a wine barrel half, therefore easier to harvest. So I think this might work. I placed 3 starter spuds in each on top of 8-inches of soil. I covered the starts with 3 more inches of soil. And as they grow, I've been adding in more potting soil. And they are growing like gangbusters. I have high hopes for these new "potato pots".

By the way, these were planted near St. Patrick's day - the time when my Granddad used to plant his annual spud crop. However, with the temperate climate here, I'm lucky to be able to plant potatoes 3 different times a year (from my own starts) and if these pots work out, I might try a go at a 4th crop kept in the greenhouse over winter.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Where does the money go exactly?

"The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has."

- Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)
Illiterate Digest (1924), "Helping the Girls with their Income Taxes"

Well, another year, another tax bill. And no, I do not wish to know how much your refund is; sour grapes on my part. I should be used to it by now. A refund coming my way has been such a rare occurrence that I can scarce remember that I did get one. Once, from the feds, many years ago and I think it was for about $15. I should have hung the check on the wall, marking the day permanently in my personal history, but I think that same year the state charged me $50 so it was a borrow from Peter to pay Paul year. But what does this have to do with gardening? Well, as the electronic packets were flying forth and back from my computer to the tax slurping server, all I could think about was this little corner of the garden. This is where I want to put in some retaining walls and fruit trees. And I was thinking for the amount of money I just sent to the government, I could have afforded the stones and materials to build this part of the garden and I would have been able to hire some help to build said walls.

But then they'd have to pay taxes, poor sod.

Well, I guess I'll just have to pull out my $7 hoe (taxes paid on it too) and keep the weeds down for a while longer.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


What a dry year it's been. Especially when last year we Californians were all moaning about whether or not the rainy season would ever end. I've heard that Santa Cruz is talking about water restrictions.

February we saw about 3 inches of rain, March only 5/8-inch. And yesterday we only saw 3/8-inch. There's more in the forecast for Saturday, but I'm already watering the garden. It has felt odd, seeing that many times, I don't start watering until April.

So, I guess I'll be glad to see more rain Saturday, except I've made all these plans, like checking out the Dahlia Club sale. Oh well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Universe in a Grain of Sand

It's really not a garden blog if you don't have pictures to share. At least I see it that way. I'd thought I'd "check in". All's well, I just don't have many pictures. The daffodils have faded, the ceanothus is also fading. Most of my spring flowers have moved on. The arugula is bolting as is the Giant Red Japanese Mustard. Right now I'm concentrating on cleaning up what hasn't survived, turning beds for summer vegetables, and putting in more hardscape. And frankly, some of the pictures are a bit gruesome, not something I'm quite ready to publish. And really, how many tomato start pictures can anyone stomach? I'm only half through potting up this year's batch and my regular "adoption families" are waiting with anticipation. Lots of sprouts, but just as I went out with my camera, I'd discovered a snail had found them first. So, no sprout pictures (and back to the potting bench to re-do my work).

But Mr C. seems to notice the beautiful in even the very tiniest of things. I had sort of ignored the orchid pictured above. It's a Dendrobium kingianum. They are quite easy to grow here and like the same environment that Cymbidiums enjoy. And it's in bloom, I just hadn't thought to take a picture. But my husband did, and looking at it this way, I can see just how beautiful it is, even if it is the size of the tip of my pinky.