Spring is just around the corner and green thumbs everywhere are getting the itch to get out and dig in the dirt. We can only peruse seed and plant catalogs for so long before the dirt calls our names. What can we do to satisfy the planting craving? We can plant potatoes indoors! This is a great project for the whole family, including those budding gardeners who, by now, are bored with all the usual indoor winter activities. With the exception of the initial cutting of the potato, this is truly a kid-friendly project.
To get started, you’ll need a few simple supplies: a deep pot, some potting soil and, of course, a potato that has begun to sprout.
Cut the potato into sections with one or two eyes (sprouts) each. Make sure each section has enough “meat” with it. The potato will probably be soft, but should not be mushy or rotten. The sprout will use this portion of the potato to feed on until it begins to grow roots.
Fill a deep pot 1/3 full with potting soil; place the potato section atop the soil and cover with three additional inches of soil. Water the potatoes and place them in a warm, sunny area. Soil should be kept at room temperature. The plant will require about 14 hours of sunlight daily so, if you don’t have enough natural light, florescent lighting is a great supplement to natural light. Keep the moisture level consistent. It is possible for a potted potato to suffer from drought which will yield a lumpy spud with a strange texture when cooked.
When the plant is six inches tall, add 2-3 inches of soil. Continue to add soil as the plant grows until the soil level is about 3 inches from the top of the pot.
Once the plants have flowered, the greenery will begin to turn yellow and die back. Stop watering at this point to allow the potatoes to mature. Overwatering at this stage can make the potato mushy.
'Baby' potatoes may be harvested 2-3 weeks after the plant flowers. For larger potatoes, wait 2-3 weeks after the tops of the plants have died back. Using your hands, a small shovel, or a large spoon, carefully turn the tubers up from the dirt. “New” potatoes may be washed and eaten immediately. If you plan to store your potatoes, spread them out, unwashed, across the top of the soil for 2-3 days to allow the skins to thicken.
You should plan on two to three months from planting to harvest so your potatoes may not be ready for Easter but should be a hit for Memorial Day. We’d love to see pictures of your DIY spud projects so please send them in.
Tobias and Rachael
Nebraska's frost-free date is right around the corner. Do you have May 10 circled on your calendar? Tobias and I can't wait to get started on our container garden.
Container gardening is the perfect solution for people with limited planting space or mobility issues. Container gardens can add a wonderful splash of color to an outdoor living space, make an entryway more inviting and provide fresh herbs for the kitchen.
Are you ready to get started?
Consider the size of the plants in relation to the size of your pot. It is important to leave a little bit of growing room. Most annuals will come with a tag that will have the mature height and width of the plant. This information is very helpful when planning your design. Different heights and textures will add interest and depth to your pots. Tobias prefers the large foliage plants, while I tend to go for the flowers, but a nice combination of both foliage and flowers makes for a design appealing to the eye.
Water and fertilizer are the keys to healthy, continuously blooming containers. When a plant is blooming, it is using an incredible amount of energy and nutrients to produce those flowers. However, when a plant doesn’t get enough moisture it goes into survival mode, which usually means dropping its blooms to conserve energy. Fertilizing your plants will provide them with the nutrients they need to keep flowering. There are many different fertilizers on the market and most people have a favorite. I have had great success with organic fertilizers. I look for organic fertilizers made specifically to increase blooms. It is important to read and follow the directions on the package. I like to find a fertilizer that can be applied weekly. I then alternate fertilizer and root starter once per week. Root starter can be found in the fertilizer section. With this schedule, you are supporting both top and root growth for a healthy, vigorous plant.
Removing spent blossoms (sometimes known as dead-heading) will also help your annuals keep flowering. When a blossom is done flowering, the plant actually uses a considerable amount of energy to get rid of the flower. By removing the spent flowers, the plant can use the energy to grow and to put on new blooms. This is more important for some annuals than for others. Geraniums will benefit from dead-heading more than a plant with small flowers like Lobelia.
Tobias and I hope you enjoy container gardening as much as we do. You can get more information on container gardening AND
see a picture of Tobias and one of his pals in the May newsletter, so go to our website http://www.cmscustomlawn.com
and check it out. Better yet, if you don’t already receive our newsletter, you can subscribe right from our website's home page.
We’d love to see pictures of your projects. Feel free to send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Until the next time, happy gardening!
Rachael and Tobias (Meow!)