Progress Report: Raised Beds and Growing Potatoes Two Ways

Do you want to know something frightening?

I shouldn’t tell you. I know you will judge me. And probably call me on the telephone to tell me to be more careful (I’m looking at you, mother). That’s okay though. I am going to walk on the wild side.

My best friend, Roo (AKA my Roomba) chewed up the power cord to my laptop. And seeing as how that is my only method of communicating online, I continued to use it.

Bad. Idea.

As I was writing this post, the darn thing started shooting sparks, and my entire computer went black. NOT good! Fortunately, after unplugging, replugging, and a whole lot of button punching, it came back to life. Woohoo!

So, needless to say, I ordered another power cord.

Now, I refuse to use it while plugged in. So, as it charges I have gone back to good ol’ fashioned pen and paper. Quite enjoyable, if I do say so myself. Albeit slow and tedious, but enjoyable nonetheless.

And one more thing before we get to this post. Do you know how much shorter your paragraphs become once transferred from paper to type? I am already on page two using paper. Ah, yes. The deceit of A4 notebooks.

An-y-ways. Raised beds!

Boy oh boy, has a lot happened since you last saw these little gems.

As you may recall, we first filled the beds with sand and good ol’ Texas gumbo, followed by a nice layer of topsoil from our usual garden.

We first planted on a Thursday night, just before leaving town. We were in a huge hurry to get everything in the dirt and rooting, so we rushed things. Neither of us had ever used store bought compost before, and we didn’t anticipate how potent it would be. If we had been taking our sweet time and lovingly going about our planting, we would have noticed how strong of an odor it carried, and would have been far less generous with the compost. Alas, we treated it like it was our own and burned all of our beautiful sprouted plants.

That was mistake number one.

The good news was that we hadn’t tilled it into the other six beds, so Morgan went behind with a leaf blower and cleared them as much as possible. As for the two that were planted, he shoveled off the top layer, retilled, and we replanted. Again rushing, again burnt.

By this point in time, we were well past our own sprouted plants and were dependent on the flats from Lowe’s. We were past all of our social obligations, and let me tell you. We took our time. That poor husband of mine shoveled, and tilled, and shoveled, and tilled until our beds were perfect. And y’all know what they say! Third time’s the charm.




We loaded those beds down with the dirtiest smelling dirt bags (ha ha) we could find. There was not even the eentsiest iota of manure scent. With a couple of these bags, and a little elbow grease from my sweety pie, I was set to be a planting woman.

Potatoes

We had an absolute abundance of potatoes to plant this year. We had saved quite a few from Morgan’s parents’ garden for seed, and then they gave us a box full that they had left over! I have a feeling that we are going to be potato crazy in this house.

The surplus turned out to be quite a wonderful thing, as it has allowed us to try two different methods of planting with no stress.

One of the most alluring parts of raised beds is the loose soil and wonderful drainage, which makes for perfect root vegetable planting! Above is your run of the mill trench method of planting potatoes. We were able to get thirty-three potatoes in each bed with 12″ centers. Sixty-six potato plants are more than enough for us. But we had so many leftover…

So we tried something new! A couple of years ago, some dear friends of ours brought over a mass of beautiful potatoes they had grown using baskets. We have been meaning to try it since, but life has a way of getting in the way. We simply never got around to it. Until now!

The idea here is to layer straw (not hay), dirt, potatoes, more dirt, and more straw. The eyes of the potatoes are pointed outwards, which in theory means that they will grow straight out the sides. Let’s keep our fingers crossed here!

The real kicker about planting potatoes this way, is the amount of plants you can get into a teeny amount of space. Remember how many I got in those two beds? This single basket has more! Can you believe it? Seventy-four potatoes are living in the midst of all that dirt and straw. Seventy. Four. If this method ends up working, I can guarantee you we will not be planting potatoes anywhere else ever again.

The Rest

Four of our beds look exactly like the one above. Each one has a row of seven jalapeño plants down the center, eight tomato plants on either side, and a border of onions. Ideally, we will plant a few more tomatoes, possibly in the old garden. It’s a little late in the season to be getting things in the ground, but I don’t think sixty-four tomato plants will be quite enough.

One bed is currently designated to squash, and will soon have pole beans running between. The one past it has been thickly sown with spinach. Yum! In the photo above, squash is the third back and spinach is closest to the window.

Also, I am really sorry about all of the chicken wire in these pictures! I know it makes it difficult to see. But as you can see, it’s quite necessary around here.

And did I mention that I am totally enamored with Morgan’s PVC covers? They have definitely saved our behinds numerous times!

And that is the tale of the raised beds. I would love to hear from y’all! What have you been planting in your spring garden? Post in the comments below, or tag me on Instagram @ethieandco!




More about Monica

Monica is dreamer and voice behind Ethie and Co. When she is not destroying the kitchen, you can find her outside tending to her gaggle of animals.

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