Monday, 14 January 2013

No dig potatoes

To finish off planting the solanums for the season, the potatoes finally went in the ground. Well, they went on the ground as I decided to use the no dig method. This is a method that has many fans, including the inspiring Peter Cundall, because it is so easy.

First we marked out the area, sprinkled sheep manure over the grass and then laid coffee bages over the garss and manure.

A little manure and some coffee bags to start

The next step was to wet down the coffee bags and place the seed potatoes on top of the bags. They are about 30cm apart in rows which are about 60cm apart.

Potatoes on the bags
So far not a lot of hard work at all.

Next we put on lots of manure, a mixture of cow and sheep. We put about three shovelfuls of manure to each square meter.

There's Steve

Then came the layer of straw, about 30cm thick, plus a little more manure and water.

To top it all off, some irrigation!

For the majority of the week when there's no one here

Potatoes only produce new tubers above the original seed potato, so the idea is that as the potatoes grow, I will continue to add straw, manure, compost, soil etc. to mound up around the plants. All of this organic matter should break down throughout the growing season, leaving a lovely crop of potatoes (that are easy to harvest, no digging!) as well as rich well prepared soil.

I think this would work much better with lucerne or pea straw, which absorb water and compact down and eliminate air pockets more easily than the normal straw that I used.

There are many benefits to the no dig method,
- obviously, there is no digging involved. Since I decided to put the potatoes on land that hasn't been rotary hoed and the soil is as hard as concrete, not having to dig was definitely a bonus.
- there is no digging when it comes time to harvest
- all of the organic matter piled on throughout the growing season will break down leaving rich, well prepared soil for the next crop and all without digging.

I will keep you updated on the progress of the no dig potatoes. They have gone in a couple of months too late, but I'm hoping for at least a little harvest of new potatoes before the first frost and for the resulting soil to be ready for some fruit trees in winter.

Elsewhere in the garden, things are growing and flowering and fruiting beautifully. The harvest has started with piles of zucchni and cucumber, which is very, very exciting!

Eggplant seedlings ready to be planted

A creamy watermelon-to-be

Pumpkins by the fence

Royal Velvet Sunflower

How the tomatoes have grown!

Khol rabi

The first harvest!