This is one bed’s worth of potatoes (I’m miffed that foreshortening is distorting this picture. It’s a five gallon bucket, 2/3 full).
Not bad for a bed that I didn’t plant any potatoes in!
Or rather, I did in 2014. These are all volunteer potatoes, from spuds that escaped the harvest last fall. They performed about the same as the potatoes I planted deliberately.
Thence rises the question: why not plant potatoes in the fall, like garlic? Why is this not a thing?
I suppose that it is a matter of conditions. Last year we had a massive snow blanket that stayed all winter, so the potatoes underground were well protected from freezing and thus rotting.
This year promises a similar hard, long winter with heavy snow. Although personally, I don’t think heavy snow equates with “hard” winter. Hard only on us people that shovel. The snow is a cozy soothing blanket that protects much. The wild bees and bumblebees had an amazingly good year this summer after last year’s deep snow winter.
Anyways, I may try fall planting some potatoes, if I can manage it. Everything is an experiment.
Right now we have a cycle, since we are still in a process of breaking ground/expanding the garden: The first year, we break beds with the broadfork, and plant potatoes in most of the new beds. In the fall, the potatoes come out and are followed by garlic. This means the bed is churned up well 3x (initially, planting/hilling, and harvesting potatoes), heavily mulched for both the spuds and garlic, and fed with hen litter, etc if we have some etc, for the garlic. The garlic will be followed by a cover crop, or two, in the second fall. So, the soil is is good shape by the time it comes around to other crops in the third year. After all the initial disruption, it will not be tilled again.
It’s our cycle, and we’re sticking to it. It has arisen because we’ve observed that potatoes thrive here in the un-amended soil. Not that that’s a surprise, potatoes loving Nova Scotia? Also, I think potatoes are under-appreciated as soil aerators, and of course, there’s a heck of a lot of soil upheaval in the process of growing them. Heavy work.
I think there may be two more years of garden expansion, before we have a site large enough for my desires of food production, so that means in the fifth year potatoes will go in where there were potatoes before. Every five years the soil gets forked up dramatically? I hope that’s enough rotation.