Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Planting Potatoes and Peas

Viking Purple potatoes.
St. Patrick's Day is the traditional time to plant peas and potatoes in our area.  (Like you needed another reason to love St. Patrick's Day, right?)  I planted both over the weekend.  I've only grown potatoes once before, so I was really surprised when I opened the box I received from Park Seed last week (right on time!) and found a sack of potatoes, instead of the bags of fingerling potatoes I received last time.  I found some random websites that told me to cut the larger potatoes into 1.5-2 oz pieces with at least one eye each and dry them for 24 hours before planting.  I found this more challenging than it sounds, but I persevered.

Recycling bin turned potato planter.

Next I dumped out the soil I used to grow my carrots in last year from this old recycling bin, and filled it with a mixture of 1-year-old and new potting soil to 7".  Then I planted the potatoes and covered with three more inches of potting soil.  Hopefully they will do a little better this year than in 2009, because I only put four pieces in there instead of 6 fingerling potatoes.  They were definitely too crowded last time.

Inoculating the peas.
Since the trellises were already up, the most challenging part of planting the peas was inoculating them.  I've never purchased inoculant for my peas before, but after last year's legume troubles (No Nodules!) I thought it might be worth it.  The instructions give two methods for inoculating the peas; one of them instructs me to combine the 6 oz package of inoculant with 454 ml of water and 55 lbs of seed.  Since I buy my seed peas in 2 oz packages and had less than half a package left, that means I should have used approximately 0.007 oz of inoculant.  Even I'm not pedantic enough to measure that, so I dipped the peas in water and rolled them around on a small saucer of inoculant and called it a day.

ETA: For an explanation of what inoculant is and why someone might want to use it, check out this article at Dave's Garden: To Inoculate, or not to Inoculate.

R helped me plant the peas, which was the most fun I've ever had planting anything.  He helped me reach between the trellises (which was harder than anticipated due to my ever-increasing size) to poke holes in the ground and put peas in them.  He really liked helping.  Afterwards he helped N measure some wood for his ongoing workbench project.  What a cutie.
R helping Daddy measure.


  1. My heart melts every time I see him!
    What, in particular, are you inoculating against? And does it only work for seeds? If I buy tomato seedlings and water them with inoculant do you think it will help with whatever killed ours last year?

  2. Oops. I meant to go back through this post and add some links before I posted it - sorry about that! I have added a couple above.

    But to answer your question, I'm inoculating my peas because last year I noticed that my bean plants didn't seem to be fixing nitrogen (see the link to my previous post, added above). Normally legumes like beans and peas work symbiotically with soil bacteria to fix nitrogen from the air; mine didn't appear to have any nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots, which I suspect was because the city compost I put on new my garden last year was pretty sterile. So I'm experimenting with inoculant this year to see if it helps.

    I don't think it will do anything for the tomatoes, which is unfortunate because I sure have a lot of it!

  3. Measure again Roman... Measure twenty times, cut once your father always says.