Sunday, September 30, 2012

Potato Farming in Seattle!

Hey, remember me? I know it's been a long time (a whole summer in fact) but I'm back from . . . well back from life, I guess. That's the funny thing about life, it totally gets in the way of what you plan to / mean to / want to do. And since I'm definitely the type that takes on way too much all at once, well, that means this blog has sat dormant for the past couple of months. But it's my goal to get back into it and keep blogging on a more regular schedule. Wish me luck!

So where was I? Oh yeah . . . I had these two adorable planter boxes and was attempting to grow things in them. Well guess what? It worked! Things grew . . . some grew really big and some grew really little and some grew not at all. And some went nuts and took over the whole garden (I'm looking at you, tomatoes!)!

To compare:

My planter boxes at the end of May:

Nice and orderly, yes?

And my planter boxes now:
Basically the tomatoes took over. They would not stop growing! For a long time, we had nothing but little green tomatoes everywhere and I was afraid that Seattle would remember its usual weather pattern (of rain and cold) and we'd end the season with relatively useless green tomatoes (yes, I know you can make fried green tomatoes or tomato salsa or tomato chutney, but really?). Well obviously that wasn't the case. Seattle has had a very warm summer that has been extended to a warm and sunny fall. Nice for people and for plants and my tomatoes have been thriving. In fact, I've stopped watering them completely because we just don't have any more room for tomatoes. Bart has made a batch of delicious marinara sauce that we've eaten and frozen for later, and he's about to make another batch today to use up these:
And you can see from the picture that we have still more tomatoes that are turning redder every day. I'd say we have enough for another batch of sauce and then I'm done. We just don't have that big of a freezer and I'm not ready for canning anything yet.

So I guess it's nice to know that I do have the ability to grow tomatoes, but the lesson learned for next season is NOT to buy 5 tomato plants. That's way too many. Next year, I'll try to remember to buy less.

As for the zucchini, they did well too . . . for a while, and we got some very large zukes:
But then they succumb to some kind of white mold on the leaves and pretty much stopped producing. I pulled the plants and then the tomatoes basically took over that space as well. The peppers were duds; no hot peppers at all and we got two tiny green peppers that we didn't eat because they basically shriveled up and looked really weird after we picked them. I think it's too cold for peppers here, even if we have what's considered a "good" Seattle summer. Another lesson, no peppers next year.

Another lesson learned: grow potatoes! A lot of them! After reading this article, I decided to throw 3 potatoes (2 reds and a russet) that I had on the counter and forgot to use into the ground to see if anything would come of it. Well something definitely came of it! I pulled up the potatoes today because I wanted to have roasted potatoes for dinner tonight and this is my haul:
Can you believe it! That's a lot of potatoes! And yes, some of them were quite small, but there were a lot of good sized ones too. I'm excited to see how "fresh" potatoes taste!

Seriously growing potatoes is the easiest things, I'm definitely doing it again next year. You just put the potato in the ground and cover it with dirt. Ideally, you're supposed to continue to cover any plant growth until you have a mound about a foot high (this will allow your plant to grow more and more potatoes) but I forgot to do that and basically forgot about the potatoes as well. Forgot about them so much that often I didn't even water them (oops!). But look what happened anyway! I wonder how many potatoes I would have harvested if I had actually taken any sort of care with them? I guess I'll have to find out next year :)

The pumpkin patch is doing OK as well (see lack of water excuse above) and we have 4 small pumpkins including this one, which is the biggest:
Since I can't remember what kind of pumpkin it is, I'm not sure if it's supposed to turn orange or not, but I'm going to wait until about the week before Halloween and then pick it and put it on the front steps for decoration. Apparently, growing pumpkins is as low-maintenance as potato growing. Next year, I'll try to stay on top of the whole watering thing and see if I can get some bigger pumpkins.

My goal for this week is to pick the rest of the (blasted) tomatoes, plus see how the onions and carrots are doing. Then I'll trim back the tomatoes a little and plant some arugula starts that I received from a friend. With the way lettuce has previously grown in our yard, I have no doubt we'll enjoy some nice salads before the first frost hits.

I'm also starting to think about planting my winter garden, including garlic and some flower bulbs that will grow next spring.

Thanks for rejoining the planting party and have a great week!

- Christine