Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I was thinkin' I could use me another helpin' of these potaters

May 1 saw the first working appearance of the garden’s newest tool: a bike trailer that we will use this season to deliver our donations of produce, flowers, and herbs. The trailer is sturdy, steel, and rated to carry up to 175 pounds. Weight won’t be as much a challenge for us in the harvest months as will volume: 80 pounds of tomatoes and greens, stacked in the plastic tulip bulb crates that we rescued from a grocery store, makes for a high center of gravity.

(These crates are, by the way, of such utility in their new role as containers of fresh produce that we still marvel that anyone would discard them.)

We are pleased to have a bike trailer to deliver produce, for a number of reasons. We will no longer depend on the willingness of volunteers to load the back seats of their cars with crates of freshly harvested (read: wet and muddy) vegetables. Fewer delivery vehicles in the garden will reduce the wear on the land near the back gate that suffers from erosion caused by water from nearby downspouts. We won’t have to worry about parking when making deliveries. Some of us will be able to combine our garden-geekery with our bike-geekery. Plus, of course, there’s that whole reduced carbon footprint thing.

The first delivery with the bike cart was of something to the garden: two sacks of potato seeds that we ordered from Seed Savers Exchange. If potato seeds look like potatoes, that’s because potato seeds are potatoes—expensive and pedigreed potatoes, in this case. We have two heirloom varieties—Yellow Finns and Cranberry Reds.

After letting the potatoes air out for a week and sprout eyes, we’ll cut them into smaller pieces (each piece with an eye) and plant them in various raised beds, as well as in the old claw foot bathtub that we reserve for spuds. You can grow potatoes in anything from potting soil bags to garbage cans to entire fields, as long as you remember to mound soil regularly around the growing plants to encourage them to produce more of the root nodules that we’re seeking.