Earlier this week I received my seed potatoes and shallots in the mail from Moose Tubers, a division of Fedco Seeds in Maine. My potato bed is fairly small, and I’ve already put in a few grocery store red and purple potatoes that had started sprouting. So I ordered only one pound of fingerling seed potatoes. The variety, La Ratte, received a glowing endorsement in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Plus, since fingerlings generally cost more at the market, I’ll get a bit more mileage out of my bed than if I had planted giant bakers. I planted them on Thursday in my join potato-pea bed. Potatoes and peas together? Yes, it’s a bit of a risk. According to the Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, early potatoes are good companions for peas, but late potatoes are adversaries. This phrasing perplexes me, because it’s the peas themselves that I think of as being early. Because I’m trying to get the most out of my garden, I planted a pea-potato bed like this:
Essentially, it’s a potato bed with peas temporarily criss-crossed on top. My thinking is that my three varieties of peas (Sugar Ann, Wando, and a snow pea variety) will grow up, produce a spring crop, and be ready for removal before such time as the potato vines get unruly. I’ll pull out the peas vines and their trellises, leaving the bed for potatoes alone. I hope the timing will work out.
As far as the timing of putting the potatoes into the ground, I learned from Kathy over at Skippy’s Vegetable Garden that Good Friday is a traditional potato-planting date, so I only jumped the gun by a day. And after reading another one of her posts I was worried that I had planted my fingerlings too densely, but the discussion in the comments section makes me think it’ll be alright. I learn so much from the comments, questions, and answers people leave on gardening blogs. The discussions on Skippy’s Vegetable Garden, The Slow Cook, and The Inadvertent Gardener are especially vibrant and helpful. Gardening is an experiential learning process, and a lot of what I know is through making mistakes and learning to avoid them in the future. But learning from other peoples’ experiences is even better, because it means I might not make the mistakes in the first place!