Digging potatoes: purple, red and gold
The first potato harvest came up this week! I didn’t intend to dig them up, although there were signs some of the plants were ready (past flowering and starting to brown).
Some digging brought up more than two buckets full of purple, red and golden tomatoes! I was only planning to dig up one bucketful but when the kids saw them, they insisted on digging some, too.
We’ll be eating potatoes for weeks to come. (Months if we don’t eat them all ASAP. When their skins are intact – that is when you don’t have a 3- and 6-and-a-half year old helping you dig them up – they store very well).
This is my first successful year growing spuds. Tried last year but put them into the ground way too late (late April through early June). The temperature was too much for them in the steamy DC region: the plants wilted and the seed potatoes turned into gooey gummy blobs – gross!
White potatoes like to have “cold feet” – they need cool soil temperatures to develop well. This year I started putting them out the week of St. Patrick’s Day and finished by the end of March. Even my latest potatoes will be ready by mid-July.
Planting potatoes early also means that their beds will be available next month for more plants. I confessed to my husband that I didn’t know what to plant there and he looked at me with an indulgent smile, shook his head and said: “tomatoes, of course.”
Of course and not just because we love tomatoes. From years of experience he knows that regardless of how many tomato plants I start with, dozens will be producing fruit by summer’s end. So how do these amazing plants multiple across the yard?
Suckers! (no that’s not an insult).
A sucker is the little plant that starts from notch between a leaf and the main stem. I’m a big fan of removing these and trimming my plants down to one or two stems, for ease of harvesting, to keep them upright, and to prevent them from becoming too bushy.
(This is true only for indeterminate tomatoes, the kind that will grow long rambling vines all summer. Check your seed packet or plant label or ask at the nursery or garden center if you’re not sure which kind you have).
Summer in my area can be very humid. Trimming the tomatoes helps air circulate around the vines, reducing mold and generally keeping the plants healthy. Trimming also results in lots of suckers that can be sprouted and planted to produce lots more tomatoes!
You can remove the suckers with clippers or pinch the small ones off with your fingers. Put them in some water. I prefer a glass jar so I can see the roots develop.
Some folks say that you don’t need to do this, they’ll just develop roots in the ground. I tried that last year with only limited success.
Suckers are an important part of the barefoot garden – super easy to propagate easy and free! So pinch off those suckers and grow yourself some new plants.
A devilish party
This coming Tuesday, June 21st, YOU are invited to a devilish celebration, a worldwide party to celebrate the launch of the latest SIGMA Force novel, The Devil Colony, by fantabulous New York Times bestselling author James Rollins.
The Devil Colony is #7 in the SIGMA Force series, which revolves around a division of highly trained operatives and expert scientists whose primary focus is fighting terrorism and protecting sensitive and confidential information.
The SIGMA series includes Map of Bones (May, 2005), Black Order (June, 2006), The Judas Strain (July, 2007), The Last Oracle (June, 2008), and The Doomsday Key (June, 2009).
Dress fancy or put on your tails and horn,s and post pictures of your devilishness online. Eat deviled eggs, create devilish cocktails for you and yours, and let us know!
James will stop by throughout the day (and night!) to chat with fans. He’ll check out the pictures, selecting favorites to post on his site’s Wall of Fame. The best pictures will win a big mystery prize!
Never attended a cyber-party? Here’s your chance! Head on over to #DevilColony on Tuesday to see what it’s all about.
See you on Tuesday!
This month’s special giveaway is this fabulous out-of-print NOAA poster, Marine Mammals of the Western Hemisphere. Everyone who leaves a comment between now and the middle of July gets one entry in the drawing. Link to this site on your blog and get two entries. Get your comments in now!
Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.Follow @danielle_meitiv