Potatoes are Romantic, really.

It’s Valentine’s day and nothing says ‘romance’ like planting potatoes. Well, maybe potato planting isn’t as romantic as chocolate or jewelry, but there is something sexy and mysterious about putting a seed potato in the ground and wondering what’s happening underground for the following four months. Plus, potatoes are way better for you than chocolate, and have far less harmful effects on Mother Earth than most jewelry. Digging up ruby red, sapphire blue and golden potatoes in May is a little like finding buried treasure!

On Friday Feb 15 from 2PM-Dark we will have our potato planting workshop at Sunfield, 1328 Sunbright Boulevard, Buda TX 78610. Please join us and experience first-hand how this most basic of foods grows in a bizarre way.

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Quick tips on how to grow potatoes:

First we are going to dig a trench! Sound fun? It’s really not that big a deal, it only needs to be 8 inches deep, about as deep as one shovel-full of soil. Don’t dig any deeper than that or you won’t get any potatoes. Put your seed potatoes in the trench about 1 foot apart.

Potatoes are heavy feeders so make sure you add some compost and organic, slow-release fertilizer to the soil that you dug out of the trench. At Sunfield I will use turkey compost, cottonseed meal, greensand and soil sulfur (use soil sulfur if your soil is alkaline like ours- it will make the soil more acidic and potatoes like that).

Next, fill the trench with just 3-4 inches of soil/compost/fertilizer mix to cover your seed potatoes. I like to water them at this time, but some gardeners frown on that saying it increases the chance of disease.

The potatoes should start to sprout after a few days-1 week. When the plants get 6 inches tall, you can push the rest of the soil over the stems to cover all but the tops of the plants. Some people do this twice during the season to “hill them up” but I usually only get around to it once.

I water them about once every 5- 7 days during the season, but it is important not to over-water. They will most likely not need as much water as other crops because they are so deeply rooted in the soil where the soil is moist most of the time.

After about 120 days, you should notice the tops of the potatoes getting a little yellow and some of the leaves turning brown and dying. That means the potatoes are ready to harvest!  Poke your finger into the soil to see if you can feel any potatoes in there.

Use a digging fork to loosen the soil around the stems of the plants and dig up the potatoes. I hope you feel the same thrill I do every time I dig potatoes- I can’t believe that something that delicious and beautiful is hiding in the soil!

When you plant potatoes, I recommend listening to music that makes you feel excited, mysterious, earthy and sexy. Everybody’s into the XX right now, and though I am not a big fan, I admit they would be perfect for potato planting. The (much buzzed about) new My Bloody Valentine record would be perfect. I prefer U2’s Achtung Baby– especially since they are Irish. Bonnie Prince Billy would do be an option for me too.

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