Growing Potatoes Part 2: Choosing Seed Potatoes, Preparation

    Planting and growing potatoes may sound difficult and something only a seasoned gardener would do, but it is really not that tricky! Just a little bit of information can help you know what to do to get started. I’ll give you some pointers regarding varieties and seed potatoes, chitting (sprouting), and cutting. Chitting and cutting is not strictly necessary, and there are different opinions on these practices, but I’ll tell you what I’ve learned so far and you can decide for yourself what you should do. Potato Varieties Potatoes, spuds, taters, whatever you like to call them, originated from South America, and according to Wikipedia, there are a stunning 5,000 different varieties across the world today! Fortunately you won’t have to choose between that many at the store! Only a very small fraction of these varieties are in reality available to us, and  for the most part you only need to worry about which characteristics you want to focus on: Do you want a so-called white potato, red-skin, baking potato, or perhaps a beautiful, yellow Yukon? These taters are quite different from each other, and some of the main differences are the content of starch versus water. White and red-skin potatoes contain a lot of water and sugar (but are low on starch), and are ideal for soups and stews, and also for potato salads, as they hold their shape well when they are done cooking. For mashing, […] Read more »

Growing Potatoes Part 1: Getting Started

How to plant potatoes

  As a hobby gardener, potatoes are among my favorite crops to grow. In this post, Part 1 of 4 total, I will touch on some general information on how to get started on growing potatoes and share some of my own experiences. In the upcoming parts, Choosing Seed Potatoes and Preparation (for planting) in Part 2;  Planting and Growing Potatoes in Part 3;  and in Part 4, Harvesting and Storing Potatoes, I will go into detail on what I do during the process of growing and harvesting potatoes. In the process of learning about potato growing I have absolutely fallen in love with this rewarding crop! I mean, what is there not to love about it? Really! Just look at this one:   This plant is a little bit different from other vegetable plants, but once you know what to do you will find that they really are quite easy to grow, and the excitement is on an all-time high once harvest time comes along! Once they are ready to be harvested, we usually dig only what’s needed for that day’s dinner. I’ll typically send one of the kids out to the garden come dinner time or I’ll go myself with a pitch fork. Fresh out of the ground, the potatoes are firm and crisp like a fresh apple; in fact, in certain areas of Norway they call them “earth apples.” Perhaps from the crispness of the freshly dug […] Read more »

Herbs & Flowers to Naturally Control & Deter Pests

Lavender   This upcoming summer season of 2012, I will be experimenting with planting certain herbs and flowers that are known to repel garden pests, such as tomato hornworms, flies, beetles, and more. This natural form of pest control, adding beauty to our gardens or nutrition to our bodies, sounds so much better than the spraying of chemicals, don’t you think? If it works, that is.  Here’s an update, written in August 2012: Link to my post Link to Herbs & Flowers for Natural Pest Protection – Update After reading a variety of articles on the internet and becoming especially interested in a few such plants, I studied each one individually; not extensively, but enough to get a good feel for each plant and its benefits and drawbacks. I found some information that surprised me and helped me make a decision on whether I should plant them or not. In this post I will go through which ones I will or will not plant, and the reasons behind it, though the information below is only meant to give you an idea of what to expect. I am by no means an expert in the field, I don’t even have the personal experience as of yet. It is simply information that I have come across while reading, much of it double and triple checked to try to avoid giving you false information. Even so, it is a good idea to do […] Read more »

Planning Your Vegetable Garden When Leaving for Vacation

    To keep a vegetable garden thriving during an extended vacation away from home can seem like a daunting task. Summer of 2011 was going to be a challenge; I realized that as soon as we started planning our much longed-for vacation to Norway, the country of my birth. Not only would we be leaving the country, unable to care for our garden, but we were going to be away for 3 1/2 weeks, as we were to leave on July 10, and not return until the beginning of August! That’s a long time to be away from a garden, and it meant we would be gone during a time that many vegetables would be ready to harvest, or need upkeep. In addition, it seems weeds are at an all-time high in July, not to mention dry spells and hot weather to make for high watering requirements. It was a tricky decision to make, as to whether I should attempt a garden at all that summer. The choice was between having no garden at all, even though we would be home almost the entire season, or to do very heavy planning and go for it, realizing that we still might be in for a lot of problems and failed crops. I decided on the latter, figuring that even if only some plants made it and produced, it would be worth it. I wanted to give it a try, at […] Read more »

Vegetable Gardening -Which Plants to Choose, Part 2

When I started my new vegetable garden, spring of 2010, I had a lot to learn. How should I plant, what should I plant, and how to grow these different plants? It was overwhelming at first, until I figured out how to go about it. I planted a myriad of different plants to try to get an idea of which vegetables I would enjoy growing. In my post How to Plan a New Vegetable Garden, What to Plant; Part 1 I wrote about how I experienced growing a variety of different vegetables, such as tomatoes, corn, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and carrots. And in the following link you’ll find my post on how my husband build our awesome fence to keep animals out. In this post, Part 2, I will continue down the list, and cover what my initial thoughts were regarding bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, chives, parsley, dill, basil, leeks, scallions (green onions), romaine lettuce, spinach, strawberries, sun flowers, and I will link to previous posts about my experience with garlic. In the weeks and months to come, I will post more detailed information about many of these various vegetable plants. Though I’m not a big pepper person, I decided to try some just for the fun of it. I found that bell peppers and jalapeño peppers were easy and fun to grow, but I also found that purchased plants produced far better than my plants from seed. […] Read more »

How to Plan a New Vegetable Garden, What to Plant; Part 1

2010 was a year of much learning for me as I took on my first year of in-ground gardening with vegetables. Up until then I had for the most part only grown tomatoes in pots, so I had a lot to learn in order to get a new vegetable garden going. We also needed a proper fence to keep animals out, which my husband built for me; here’s the post with a picture tutorial on the fence he put up. I decided I wanted to try a fairly large variety of plants in order to learn what I would enjoy working with, and what would end up with a good yield for me. While planning, there were several big questions: What to do in order to put in a garden in the first place, which vegetables to choose, and how to plant and grow them. It seemed like a daunting project!! But after studying one plant at a time, I found that it was quite doable after all! I will do a quick break-down in this post on each plant and why I did or didn’t enjoy growing them. Later I will go through and describe in more detail things I have learned along the way on some of these plants, and some handy tips to be aware of. Some helpful links will be found in this post. Tomatoes was a given, so I planted a ton of plants from […] Read more »

Planning a New Vegetable Garden

  Winter of 2010 I started seriously thinking about the possibility of putting in a vegetable garden. It had been on my mind for several years to try my hands at gardening, but with three young children I didn’t feel I had the time or energy for it. So it remained a future dream. Now, in 2010, I finally felt that the time had come. But where to start? How to plan and go about it? The task seemed overwhelming, so much to learn and do, and there was so much information out there that I didn’t know where to begin! January became February, and I still didn’t have a clue what to do and where to start; it was easier to put things off and not really do anything until the soil was workable anyway. February gave way to March, and by then I had seen packets of seeds at the store, and excitingly picked up a few different ones. It all looked so fun to try! Soon thereafter I met a neighbor who had years of gardening experience. I told her about my plans, and that I thought it would be neat to plant tomatoes from seed. “Well, you’ve got to get started then, tomatoes take a long time!” she said. So that was a little kick to get me started. She gave me some advice on what to do, and before I knew it, I had little […] Read more »

Trial & Error in Garlic Planting; Dos and Don’ts

The early spring og 2011, I was busily caring for my little indoor tomato seedlings when I was given a few sprouted garlic cloves by a dear friend. She told me she had found them sprouting in her refrigerator, decided to plant some of them inside, and they grew and seemed happy enough. So she gave some to me to try as well. Like my friend, I really hadn’t planned on planting garlic, but why not give it a shot? I didn’t know the first thing about planting garlic, and being preoccupied with other things, I didn’t look much into how to care for them. I just figured it would be a fun side-project. (Not researching much beforehand ended up being Mistake no. 1.) So I planted the ones she gave me plus quite a few of my own non-sprouting supermarket cooking-garlic cloves that I had in my refrigerator; I ended up with 22, total. “You never know,” I though to myself. Sure enough, after a few days, they all sprouted! What a thrill!! Since garlic cloves are so large compared to the seeds of most vegetables (many are the size of sugar granules), I had planted them in disposable plastic drinking cups to make sure they had plenty of room. Learning that garlic prefers cool weather and are hardy to frost, I decided to put them outside during the day, and bring them inside overnight. I placed them on […] Read more »

Step by Step Garlic Planting

I now have my garlic cloves in-ground. On October 22, 2011, my husband tilled the garden for me, then I went ahead and planted my garlic. This is my first year planting garlic at the right time of year, using proper garlic seed. I tried last season, and failed on every point. I will share those experiences in a different post, in which you will see why that project was doomed from the beginning, also what I learned in the process. Doing your homework first makes a big difference in the outcome of a lot of different projects; planting garlic is no exception. This is my garden before tilling; lots of weeds and died-off plants after the harvest was completed. Or should I say, almost completed, as my husband did find another little potato while tilling! WooHoo!! I’ll take it! Here he is, my darling, tilling away; about half-way through. Adding lime. If only I had remembered to put down lime before (or during) tilling, then I could have saved myself the job of working it into the soil. Oh well, live and learn. I made a chart to figure out where I want to plant my various vegetables next year; they need to be rotated in order to help prevent diseases, and for nutrition purposes, as different plants absorb different nutrients, and the soil could become depleted. So I keep charts from previous years to help me decide where […] Read more »

Almost There!

Hello everyone, I am just starting up this brand-new blog of mine, so hang in there for those of you who may have found this blog mostly empty. First of all, I will be covering garlic planting in my garden. It will be my second attempt. My first attempt, spring of 2011 (notice I said “spring”; mistake no. 1), failed, and I will later go into the details of why I believe I failed along with information of what I’m planning on doing differently this time around, also why I think there is a chance of success with these changes implemented (planting in the fall should help considerably.) The first time, I just dove into it after a friend gave me some sprouted cloves to try. Without being sufficiently prepared for it, along with making some glaring mistakes, I was bound to fail. But it was a fun experiment never-the-less. I’m actually glad I did what I did, so that now when I have spent money on good garlic seed, I have a chance of being successful. A chance. Doesn’t mean it will work; for one thing, I will attempt to plant soft-neck garlic, which isn’t really the right kind for my zone (I’m in zone 5.) It will be fascinating to see what happens! My goal is to produce enough bulbs to make a pretty garlic braid (need soft-neck for that) to hang in my kitchen, which I can […] Read more »