Potato Bonanza

The bucket is holding over 28 pounds of Purple Viking and Durango potatoes that I dug yesterday. There are some very large specimens and I’m quite happy with this year’s crop. The entire bed yielded about 55 total pounds of spuds including these, some blue fleshed Adirondack Blue, and a little pinkish fingerling called Rose Finn Apple. I still have most of another bed to harvest, so we’ll be eating a lot of potatoes in the coming months.

To harvest the potatoes, I break the edges of the bed with a fork and use the fork to get under the potatoes and break the dense clay. Then I get down on my hands and knees and use a CobraHead to lift out the potatoes, all the while pushing the soil behind me as I move down the bed. The harvesting results in a complete double digging. I end up with a lopsided bed and lots of clay clods

I use a wheel barrow to move the excess soil from the one end of the bed to the other. It takes a over an hour to get the bed back in shape, but when I’m done, I have a weed-free bed that is ready to go.

The tools I use to shape the bed and break up some of the bigger chunks of clay include a digging fork,a border fork, a scoop shovel, a digging spade, a steel rake, a long handled CobraHead, and my antique five-tined hand cultivator. Even after gardening in the same spot for over twenty years; composting, rotating crops and covering the beds with leaves in the fall, the clay here is still tough.

It does get softer, though, and some parts of the garden have soil that is now quite friable, but the south end is still the worst. Nevertheless, the clay is fertile and it produces some fine crops. I don’t think I’d want anything else now. I’m happy with my soil and my raised bed system and I like the way my garden makes me feel connected to the earth.

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