Last weekend was our second wave of potato planting.
The first was a few weeks ago when I started several pounds of fingerlings in large black plastic pots in the hoop house. It’s a painless way to grow potatoes – no digging trenches, just add a little compost when the leaves shoot up, and then, after the plants flower, you simply reach into the pot and pull out tender gems for dinner.
But last weekend, it was the more traditional way of planting potatoes, with a few Fleur-de-Lys twists. I still dig trenches, three of them, but instead of numbering them 1-2-3, they are Red, White, and Blue. That way, I plant all my red-fleshed or red-skinned potatoes in the red row; all the white-fleshed potatoes in the white row, and yes, the blue-skinned and fleshed potatoes in the blue row. I separate varieties in rows with stakes. Later in the season, when I want to harvest a few pounds of white and blue potatoes for a Penn State tailgate, I know which rows to go to. These mind games come in handy for us graying market gardeners.
Another trick of the trade is making sure the seed potatoes have a generous helping of composted manure. After I dig my trenches and place my potatoes, I start wheeling in loads of compost to start filling in the trenches, covering the seed potatoes. As I move along the row, I search for the fat, C-shaped white grubs in the black compost. I gently pick them out, collecting them in a bucket. Then, as I return the empty wheelbarrow to the composted manure pile for a refill, I take the writhing beetle grubs up to the chicken pasture. Bonbons for the hens.
It’s Easter Peep return week, so I’ve been busy collecting all of the names for the girls (more on that later), getting them reacquaintedwith their sisters, and gathering eggs from last year’s peeps. We’re also starting to pick asparagus, baby arugula, sorrel, chives, green garlic (scallions of the garlic variety), shiso, and, we have local Milk & Honey Farm honey. One interesting first for us was about a third of our Red Russian kale over-wintered and has sprouted new, tender, tasty leaves! I’m perplexed, but not complaining. Then, I got a call from Karen, a great gardener on the other side of Kutztown. Her broccoli raab did the same thing! All I can think is that we didn’t have a brutally cold winter, and we had more snow cover than usual, acting as a blanket for tough plants and perhaps helping them survive and now thrive. Here’s to thriving! Laurie Lynch
Name Game: Yes, we want our peep customers to name their chicks! The week before Easter we had former peep family who trudged the whole way up Hen Hill to call for last year’s peep: “Pancake, Pancake.” She came running … along with the rest of the flock! This year’s youngsters liked the letter C. We have Claire, Charlotte, and Candice. We also have two chicks named Chipmunk and two chicks named Chippy. (I have to stop describing the Aracauna chicks as looking like chipmunks. I’m afraid I’m skewing the data.) Other names are Goldie and Princess and Peepers, Sorrel and Shadow, Brownie and Blackberry, Tulip and Daffodil and Lilly, Bird and Buddha, and, simply, “Him” (we are hoping “Him” is really “Her”). We also got Pecky and Picky, as well as pictures of Pecky and Picky Perching on a Pot. But my special Easter treat this year came from a customer/photographer in the Philadelphia area. She brought me a trio of photographs of her precious babe in an Easter bonnet and special dress playing with her first Easter peep. Charming.
Tomato, Tomahto: Started transplanting tomato seedings this week. New heirloom varieties headed to our Fleur-de-Lys field: Violet Jasper, Carbon, Black Ruffles, Rowdy Red, and three vintage plum tomatoes: Assalito Family, Roughwood Garden and Pompeii.
Written on Slate: “I call everyone ‘Darling’ because I can’t remember their names.” – Zsa Zsa Gabor