Winter won’t let go it’s grip on the Pacific Northwest. It’s April 15th and the last frost day where the farm is located. There was frost last night. Does this tell you anything? I’m hoping it won’t be a cabbage year when cabbage and it’s relatives are the only thing that will grow in a wet, cool summer. The winter was a real hard one here. We have had over 53 inches of rain since October 1 (the start of the rainy season). The norm is 32 inches. The farm had bunches of snow being at 1,200 feet, but it doesn’t last in Western Oregon. The snow does produce beautiful scenes and the dogs have a blast playing in it. The sheep? Well, they look at me, when I open the door to the barn in the morning, to say, “No way are we going out in that stuff!” They are happy to just eat their hay inside the barn. They are spoiled Pacific NW sheep used to only rain.
Today, we have abundant sunshine! It is a very welcome sight after all the clouds and rain since October. Let Spring begin! I’ve planted some veggies in pots for customers and in trays that can handle the cold in beginning of March. The arugula is very happy as is the peas. I also planted 4 different lettuces, radishes, Giant Winter and Bloomsdale spinach, Asian greens, and some others.
Now is time to plant potatoes. I have about 100 lbs. of potatoes in fact to plant. I have never planted that much before so this should be interesting. 10 lbs. of seed potatoes produce about 100 lbs. of potatoes. Does that mean 100 lbs. of seed potatoes will produce 1,000 lbs. of potatoes? I’m hoping potatoes will sell really well at farmer’s market. Potatoes are hardy, they don’t need refrideration, they don’t go bad very easily, and they stay yummy for a long time. I have bought certified potato seed from several sources. I prefer to be safe than sorry so I buy from different sources to protect my investment. It’s not cheap to buy seed potatoes like it is buying veggie seeds. I only buy organic or naturally-grown seed. I will keep my own seed potatoes after this growning season, but will only keep this seed for a couple of years before I buy certified seed again. I want to make sure that diseases don’t develop that prevent potatoes from being grown like what happened during the Irish Potato Famine.
I found this on Wikipedia on The Irish Potato Famine, “The Celtic grazing lands of… Ireland had been used to pasture cows for centuries. The British colonised… the Irish, transforming much of their countryside into an extended grazing land to raise cattle for a hungry consumer market
at home… The British taste for beef had a devastating impact on the impoverished and disenfranchised people of… Ireland… pushed off the best pasture land and forced to farm smaller plots of marginal land, the Irish turned to the potato, a crop that could be grown abundantly in less favorable soil. Eventually, cows took over much of Ireland, leaving the native population virtually dependent on the potato for survival.” If you are interested, look up the Irish Potato Famine on Wikipedia. The history is very interesting. The potato blight disease, Phytophthora infestans, was spread from the eastern United States and shipped to Ireland where it spread to Europe.
So it is very important to start with certified seed potatoes and if you keep seed, only keep seed pieces for a few years before you replenish your supply with certified disease-free seed. Using different varieties of potatoes also helps with diseases. There are heirloom seed that are hardy and new strains that are disease-resistant. I suggest that you do your research before you buy certified seed.
Time to get out in the field and do some work in the sunshine! Until next time…