Gardening in Astoria

It's been a long time since I've posted! What a crazy year and a half right? Over the course of Covid, we've really had a lot of time to think, as I'm sure you have. One of the things we've really focused on is sustainability, if Covid taught us anything, it taught us that the supply chain is absurdly fragile! To try and create a more sustainable life, we've utilized the giant gravel area infront of the shop. We have 18 potato boxes, and 18 planter boxes to grow our own food. To reduce our water consumption, we've used PVC to pipe water to each box, and customized it to the weather and plants we're watering using the Hyve system(we had this box at home and brought it into the shop). I wanted to share with you our experience with potatoes :) Today, we harvested our first ever potato batch and it was so satisfying! We planted Yukon Gold, Russet, Sweet Potatoes, Yams, and one random little purple left over from a fingerling bag we bought last spring. If you've never grown your own potatoes, you should! It's so easy, fun and they're so pretty! Especially the flowers, although the deer repeatedly feasted on our potato plants. They proved to be very resiliant to the deer munching, but not to an overwhelming slug population. As a matter of fact, the only reason we harvested the potatoes was because slugs were decimating them :( If you're like me, you always buy the cheaper 20lb bag of potatoes, and then don't eat them all before they start to sprout, we used those "slips" to start our potato boxes! Today when I was reading online about sweet potatoes(they didn't grow at nearly the same speed) I learned that they're actually a tropical plant, which doesn't bode well for our Astoria climate. I'm hoping to replant them in the next week or so, and my plan is to put black plastic over the soil to keep it warmer and dryer than I did with the yukon gold and russet potatoes. Weirdly, we had several boxes with dark purple potatoes, but they grew from brown potatoes, I have no idea how that happened, but it's kind of cool though, they sure are beautiful! So, we used fencing boards, and 2x4s to make our boxes, we cut the fence board into 4 pieces, and used a brad nailer to put it together, then we lined the bottom of the box with barrier material. For soil, we used soil purchased from WestWind, which is amazing soil! Last year we used soil from trails end, and to be honest, the rock content was just way to high. Unfortunately, we didn't really do any research, we just flew by the seat of our pants, and we should have added a medium for drainage. We also fertilized a time or two with fish fertilizer, which was a bit too rich for them from what I've learned post planting. Fun fact! If you fertilize your sweet potatoes or yams with a nitrogen rich fertilizer.. it will stunt the tubers growth, which makes sense as far as why we had so many tiny tubers. (which made excellent fries, to be honest. Did you know that sweet potatoes aren't even closely related to regular potatoes. They're actually part of the Morning Glory family. Who knew?! Craziness.

I'm excited to give growing potatoes a shot again, and adjust my planting style. Tonight we're enjoying sweet potato fries from the tiny tiny yams and sweet potatoes we grew ;) How fun is that?

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