Planting Windows


Was going to do this post last night, but I was worn out from yesterday’s planting frenzy. I take what windows I can to get crops in this time of year. Yesterday the ground was a bit more moist than the window at the beginning of the week, but dry enough to crumble when worked with digging fork and hand tiller.

My absolute favorite hand tool for working up the soil–once it is worked deeply with either broadfork or digging/potato fork is my Glaser 4-tine hand tiller. It looks a little like those cultivators you get in the sets with the hand trowel, but the handle is longer (more leverage) and the tines are much longer and much sharper than your typical model.

It might seem hard to justify spending $53 on a hand tool, but once you get this thing in your hand, you’ll never want to let go of it.  I have had mine for three years now, and would immediately replace it if anything happened to it.  I would even order to extra to have on hand, except I am superstitious: I’ve noticed the moment I get an extra tool, I lose the one I had originally.

So yesterday was mostly potatoes–that old saw about planting them on Good Friday was not going to happen this year, and I always get peas and spinach in first, so I waited for the next planting window for these tuberous delights.

I pretty much only grow fingerling potatoes anymore–the big growers can harvest hundreds of pounds of Yukons and Norlands, but I don’t have that kind of space to devote to one crop.  So I find my niche with the best-tasting potatoes around.

Fingerling potatoes are typically smaller than your average potato, and skinny like a finger.  Their flavor is nutty and fantastic, and they make the best roasted potatoes around.  They tend to be a little longer season, and they don’t work for new potatoes, but their yields can be quite high if you treat them well.

Yesterday I got in a 50′ row of Peruvian Purple fingerlings (about 2 1/4 lbs) , plus a small bed across the garden for the few French fingerlings I had left over from last year.  I seemed to remember that I’d ordered more–so I checked when I got home: yep–I’ve got 5lbs. of Australian Crescents coming from Pinetree Garden Seeds.  Where the heck am I going to put those?

Well, I’ll figure it out when they arrive.  I also seeded a 50′ x 3′ bed of lettuce: black-seeded Simpson, lollo rossa, buttercrunch, plus cilantro to finish off the last few feet.   Also sowed a similar-sized row with my favorite Easter Egg radish blend (the one with pink, purple, and white all together).

Today looks promising for a little more work before the promised rains come.  Next on the agenda: carrots, beets, rapini, turnips, arugula.  I’ll be breaking out some lengths of row cover for some of these crops–either to protect from big swings in the weather, to keep the soil moist for lengthy germination times, or to isolate from my garden’s most rapacious predator–flea beetles.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Wow. Very impressive. No wonder you’re tired!

    I love the fingerling potatoes, but haven’t tried the Peruvian Purples. Do they stay purple when you cook them?

    Still patchy snow here…and maybe a bit more tonight. Ugh.

    D.

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on March 31, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Deborah–

    As far as I know, they do stay purple when cooked. This is a variety I hadn’t tried, but a member highly recommended them.

    I really loved the French fingerlings I grew last year (red skin, slightly rosy flesh), but I loved them maybe a little too much–I didn’t have many left to plant this year. I may have to save most of this year’s harvest for the 2009 planting season.

    We had about 2″ of slush, then rain, now snow again. It is a sloppy mess out there!

    –re.

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