Bzzzz August 21st, 2007

We have our first potato harvest from our garbage can potato experiment!

We have tried–unsuccessfully–to grow potatoes in the past.

The problem with growing potatoes is that 1) Potatoes require that you pile up soil around the plants as they grow. 2) Soil is very heavy and time consuming to move around. 3) Potatoes are the nirvana of the bug world. Bugs LOVE potato plants.

Well, where there is a will, there’s a way…

I have been reading for several years–mostly in those “clever ideas” books that you find by “lazy gardeners”–that you can actually grow potatoes easily in garbage cans. When I mentioned this idea to my son, a great lover of potatoes, he immediately glommed onto the idea. After all, it is clever and lazy. What better gardening experiment for a very bright, somewhat lazy teenager, right?

ben preparing potatoes april 07.jpg

The potato planting

Here were the steps to his first garden experiment:

1. He bought two big, plastic garbage cans and drilled holes for draining all around the bottom quarter of the cans.

2. He then bought seed potatoes from the local nursery and planted them in the bottom with a couple of bags of Miracle Grow potting soil.

sarah with potatoes.jpg

The potato quality control inspector

3. He waited for me to do almost everything else.

Fortunately for me, the “almost everything else” only amounted to watering during the drought and reminding him to dump in more soil as the potatoes grew. It truly was a low-effort affair.

We were also able to locate the wretched plants far away from the actual garden, thereby keeping the potato loving bugs at bay.

garbage can potatoes june 3 2007.jpg

The potatoes in June

When I returned from Denver a few days ago, I was disappointed to learn that Ben had celebrated the harvest without me. Sad though I was at missing this fledgling gardener milestone, I was still glad that he hadn’t yet devoured his whole crop and I was able to capture the WHOLE CROP in a photo for Bumblebee Blog.


The harvest of garbage can potatoes

Frankly, there weren’t a whole lot of potatoes. And many of the potatoes were just marble sized. But we were still pleased with the effort and will work harder at a bigger harvest next time around.

I suspect that we need to plant fewer potatoes or to thin out what we put in the garbage cans so that they have more room. Ben may also have harvested a bit too soon, since the other lazy, clever gardeners say that you should wait until the plants die back. Ours had not yet given up the ghost.

So how do they taste, you ask?

Wonderful! They are fresh, crisp and firm and extremely flavorful. I just wish there were more of them!

So where the heck have you been, you also ask?

Well, after a few days in Denver and environs where I had very little time, I headed home where I had a single day to unpack, pack, do the garden work, tidy up the house and hit the road for vacation with my family.

We went Lake Toxaway, North Carolina, where we stayed at a huge and wonderful lake house and spent our time lolling about, reading, eating and hiking. There was NO WIRELESS CONNECTION to be found. There was not even a Starbucks or Paneras with public access.

I, of course, was resourceful and managed to connect somewhat using my Treo. But I could not blog from the thing. So there you have it.

Next week I’m off to San Francisco, where I hear that they have discovered wireless connections and I will be able to maintain my garden blog without interruption.

Glad to be back!

Posted In: Gardening

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Bzzzz August 10th, 2007

Globe trotter that I am, I am writing from Colorado where I happened upon this amazing cloud forest tree at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

It’s not a real tree, but is actually a steel and foam construction. But it is absolutely smothered in epiphytes–orchids and other plants that grow on trees for support, not nutrients.

cloud tree.jpg

Cloud Forest Tree, Denver Botanic Gardens

The cloud forest tree is named for the trees that grow high in the mountains of Asia, Africa, Central and South America where the mountain mists and clouds descend and touch the tops of the tangles of forest.

I was taking refuge in the greenhouse from the crushing heat and had just reached the end of the main part of the structure when I walked into a separate enclosure. It was so surprising–and stunning–that I let out a little yelp, making the other tree-gawkers jump!

The gardens here in Denver were so beautiful and inviting, I was stunned that the cab drivers didn’t know where it was and that the people I spoke with at the hotel hadn’t visited. It makes me wonder how many people haven’t visited the gardens in their own cities.

Have you visited your own local botanical gardens? What do you find most extraordinary there? And will you share the URL if you can find it, please!

Your globe trotting correspondent,

Posted In: Gardening, Travel


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