Two varieties of potatoes were grown in two different garden beds in the garden, Dark Red Norland and Kennebec. They were planted using John Jeavons' Biointensive method. I wanted to try this technique after reading about Laura's (The Modern Victory Garden) 2010 success.
It was in the high 30s when I began digging on Tuesday morning. It was chilly but comfortable working in a sweatshirt and gardening gloves.
I began digging the Dark Red Norland bed first. The Dark Red Norland were planted on May 17th and began dying back around August 15th. Unfortunately, this provided three weeks less growing time than the previous year. It was clear when digging for new potatoes that the overall yield would be lower than the year before.
Most of this bed has been dug up earlier in the season for new potatoes, but I wanted to go through it in a more thoroughly to be sure I found all the potatoes. As expected, the potatoes were small and the overall yield was lower than last year. I also noticed that the quality of the soil in this bed is not very good and could use some heavy amending.
I then moved over the Kennebec bed. The Kennebec were planted on May 14 and began dying back around September 5th. Except for a little digging on one edge, this bed was left mostly undisturbed most of the growing season. I pulled off the soaker hose and raked off the hay that was used to mulch the bed. Already I could see many potatoes along the surface that grew beneath the covering of the hay. Most were protected, but some green ones were discarded. The green color is from chlorophyll and indicates that increased levels of solanine and chaconine may be present. After learning about solanine poisoning this year, I am not taking any chances.
was encouraged the moment I began digging the Kennebec bed. There were lots of potatoes and some very huge ones.
After a while of digging I was achy, tired, dirty, and hungry. I took a break and went inside. I was surprised to see it was lunchtime. I had been digging for four hours.
After lunch, I finished digging the Kennebec. Since there is little growing in the garden, the gates are left open so Bradie can come in. She enjoyed being allowed inside the garden fence.
I weighed the potatoes and spread them out to cure for a bit. Later I will box them up and place them in a cool spot in the winter. Ten pounds of seed yielded 47 pounds of potatoes. Last year, eight pounds of seed yielded 68 pounds of potatoes.
The yield was down from last year, but we will still have plenty of potatoes to enjoy over the winter. I am not convinced that the low yield was a result of the new planting method. There are too many factors that could have been involved, including the soil, weather, seed, nutrients, watering, etc. I will still be using this planting method next year in a different garden bed.