Potatoes and Ollas revisited

So last year I tried growing potatoes in trash bags with marginal success. My mistakes were:

  • The bags I used were too big.
  • The bags lacked structure which made it difficult to add more soil as the plants grew.
  • I did not provide adequate drainage.

Still, the poor potato plants tried their best and at the end I did get a few potatoes. I did much better with the tubs. The only problem I had with the tubs was that when I tipped them to harvest the potatoes, the tubs broke.
So, this year I gave in to marketing and purchased two factory-made potato bags. These bags are 18 inches (45.72 cm) high and 14 inches (35.56 cm) in diameter. I planted two varieties of potato today –Yukon Gold and Purple Majesty.

I have been told that the first week of March is too early to plant potatoes but I have planted potatoes this early before and it has worked well for me.
As a test, I will also plant potatoes in:

  • The empty garden soil bag. I’ll cut it to match the dimensions of the store-bought bags.
  • A 5 gallon (18.925 liter) bucket.

OLLAS
I really want to try the Olla (clay bottle) method of watering my plants but Ollas are rare to non-existent around here. So I took a pottery class last year in an effort to make my own but it turns out that making clay bottles is an advanced skill so I never made any. I am now considering going to one of the many pottery shops around here and paying someone to make them for me.
Olla watering is a very old method of watering allegedly brought to the Americas by the Spaniards. You bury a clay bottle near your plants with the mouth of the bottle exposed (for refilling the water) and the roots will obtain the moisture they need from the water that seeps through the porous clay. We’ll see.

Stay tuned…

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Various and sundry things

My big potato plant has flowers now. I know it’s way to soon for any potatoes so I don’t know why it’s flowering already. This is one of the potatoes that I started inside in a peat pot and that may be what people where talking about when they said that potatoes do not do well when started inside. The flowers are pretty though.

Update on the self-watering, wicking experiment. It’s been 2 full days and the wick is still wet and although the soil is not dried, I am not confident that enough water is moving across the wick. I must say though, that the day before yesterday was hot, 80+ and sunny and the fact that the wick did not dry may be proof that indeed, there’s plenty of water moving. I still think that a wider piece of cloth may deliver more water.
Interesting thing about capillary action. The reason water moves is that water molecules are attracted to water molecules and that is why both the wick and the soil must be wet when you first build a system like this, or when you build a self-watering container (or sub-irrigated container as I and other people preferred to call them). So the water molecules in the soil pull the water molecules on the wick which pull the water molecules from the bottle creating a flow. There are more things under heaven and earth that are dreamt of in our philosophies indeed!

Last, here is where I am on the road to Ollas (for slow-watering purposes)

I have taken 3 pottery classes now and I finally began to understand centering the clay and pulling the clay up into a tube. I say I began to understand, which is to say that I still have some ways to go before I can throw an Olla. I think next class, I will learn how to fire this cup and a couple of bowls that I’ve made.
Much like capillary action on water, learning how to throw pottery has attracted a desire to make my own potter’s wheel since the ones I use at school cost about $1200 dlls.!!!!!!
I’ve seen several designs online for wheels and I just have to decide which one is simpler. Also, I want to build a kiln that uses wood because A) I am very scared of propane B) I want to fire my own stuff whenever I want to.

Over and Out.

Snow Falling On Onions

Sure, not near as poetic as Snow Falling On Cedars but I don’t grow cedars. At least not yet.

That’s one of my baby onions poking through the snow.

Here’s what my garden looked like this afternoon:


Here are more images of SPRING from my yard:


My poor baby pear tree will drop all of its foliage:


I don’t know if it was the excitement of all the snow or what but my puppy Lexie decided to snack on one of the potato bags. I don’t know how she untied the chicken wire. Smart girl…

And now, let’s look at how my chiltepin plant is doing. She has spent some time outside and has done well, even in a very windy day. She is nice and safe inside until it warms up again.

Last but not least is my potato experiment. I saw on a video that potatoes don’t transplant well. I had a few pieces of my seed potatoes left after I planted the potatoe bags and I did not want to waste them so I put them in peat pots. When I checked on them yesterday this is what I saw:


According to Weather.com, we have a few more nights of sub-freezing lows. My peppers are all outgrowing their peat pots and they need to be put on their self-watering containers soon.
Here’s to Spring!