We picked out a few from existing inventory that were shriveled up and had some nice sprouts on them and planted them in a 12 foot bed. I didn't want to go overboard, because goodness knows, we'd rather eat them than put them in the ground if the frost is gonna get 'em. They all sprouted and are looking mighty healthy. Now that they are up out of the ground, I want to be sure to get some mulch around them to discourage weed growth and conserve soil moisture.
That's where an old hay bale comes in handy. Bales of hay that are more than a year old can often be found in the corner of someone's pasture, decomposing and shrinking back into the land from whence it came. I like to cut the baling twine off of it and use it to thickly mulch around all the vegetables in the garden, whether in Spring or Fall. I break off swaths of hay from the bale, trying to leave it in long pieces that I'll lay across the ground as sort of a mat.
|A wagon full of year-old hay|
|A row of Fall Potatoes|
I laid the hay around the potatoes like you'd pull a heavy quilt over you on a cold winter's night. With the potato plants all tucked in, we're good to go. Irish potatoes take between 90 and 120 days until they are ready to be dug up, so that means that somewhere between December 23 - January 22nd, they'll be ready. We'll have some frosts before then, so I'll pile more hay on top of the plants on those days to see if we can get some more potatoes before the frost kills them. It is a gamble, I know. We'll see how it goes.
|All tucked in bed|
They are very healthy, happy potato plants right now. I'll give them a good sprinkling of water and the hay mulch will retain that moisture and slow the evaporation that you experience from bare ground.
Since we had success storing our potatoes throughout the summer, next year I'm going to plant more potatoes so that we maintain a strong potato inventory year-round. If the Fall potatoes are successful, I'll begin growing my own seed potatoes for the Spring crop. Right now all is looking good.