Yesterday the kids and I had fun playin' in the dirt. My bagged potatoes were looking wilted and yellowing, so I decided it was time. We donned our gloves, ripped the bags down a bit, and with guarded optimism began carefully sifting through the soil. Nothing.. nothing.. nothing.
As we reached the center portion of the first bag, I heard a happy squeal coming from Nathan's direction. There he was, holding a small. round tuber. One potato....Daring to hope, we all began scooping a bit faster, though still carefully sifting the soil through our fingers. A few minutes later Lindsay jumped up, excitedly waving another small orb in the air. Two potato....Nathan found another slightly larger specimen. Three potato....As we dug through the first bag, and then the second we found more potatoes of various sizes and shapes. 16 potatoes in all, not counting the itty bitty that was really rather cute but so small it'd be dwarfed by a petite pea sitting beside it. Not exactly what we'd been hoping for from our previously rather lush looking plants, but, at least it was more than we'd planted, and as is the case each year with our gardens, it was an experiment, and one that we will learn lessons from, hopefully resulting in better crops in the years to come.
Perhaps we didn't leave them in the ground long enough before harvesting. That is a distinct possibility, although I really don't think it would've made that big of a difference. The potatoes may have a grown a bit larger, but the numbers would've been the pretty much the same. I think the biggest problem was probably with the soil itself.
The soil we planted the seed potatoes was good enough. It was dark and rich. It held water well yet allowed for drainage. Same with the second layer of soil. After that though, I was digging down far enough that the soil I was adding to each layer was less and less ideal. As time went by, and layers of soil were added I noticed the water I provided my plants wasn't soaking in. It was merely sitting there for a brief moment before rolling off and into puddles below. Next year I plan to take more care in the soil selection for the multiple layers. I'll be doing some more research as well, learning as much as I can from successful potato gardeners. I expect Nathan will be doing the same. Hopefully between the two of us we can come up with a more successful ending next year.
In the meantime, I think Nathan still has a few potato plants in his garden, and I still have two that I planted in my garden area, so there's still hope, and we did manage to harvest enough yesterday that we can add them to a dish of some sort so we'll be able to say we did consume potatoes we grew ourselves ;-)
As an added bonus, between scooping soil with my hands, and later shoveling the soil up into the wheelbarrow, then out again into the chosen spot in my garden, I got quite a workout! Afterwards, Pa informed me that I was "glowing".
I slept good last night :o)