Boy, after this winter and all of the snow, we gardeners are more than anxious to get our garden soil ready for the early spring cool season plants and seeds. Unfortunately, most soils are going to be too wet for tilling and preparing a seed bed. How can we tell if our soils are too wet? Go to your garden site and scoop up a small handful of soil, put it in the palm of your hand and squeeze it; if it stays in the palm shape, it is too wet. If, when you open your hand and the soil ball falls apart, that’s good news. Your soil is dry enough to be worked.
One early spring crop that the old timers say needs to be planted by St. Patrick’s Day is potatoes. When I was growing up, planting potatoes was a real family activity.
My dad would till a small space in the garden just for the early crops. He would make a five-inch trench and we would drop in the potatoes, which my mother had cut into planting sizes.
If you are more than ready to do some gardening this spring, here are some tips on growing potatoes:
You can purchase certified seed (potato tubers) potatoes from your local garden supply stores or order them from reliable garden seed catalogs. Varieties recommended for Delaware gardeners are round superior whites – Kennebec, Haig and Katahdin; red skin potatoes - Norland and Lasoda; and russets - russet Burbank and Belrus. In seed catalogs, you may have noticed potato varieties are more than just the white flesh-colored. They come in many colors like theYukon Gold, which has yellowish-colored skin with butter-yellow colored flesh, or Rose Gold that has rosy-red skin and golden-yellow flesh. There are also shades of blue and red. An example of the red flesh is All Red or Cranberry Red, while the All blue has blue flesh. There is also a blue skin variety with pure-white flesh called Caribe. A variety that grew last year and that is going to grow again this year is a white potato called King Harry. This potato has more hairs on the leaf surface and is not a favorite of the Colorado Potato Beetle, which is a major pest