Irma’s Potato Technique and Garden Wisdom
We were fortunate to receive a load of seed potatoes from the Christian Appalachian Project for our program. My poor truck Hazel was pretty loaded down as I slowly set down 25E and wound my way up Stinking Creek.
Irma planted some potatoes as soon as I brought them to the Center. She explained to me her special way of planting potatoes. She mentioned it in an article she wrote for the Barbourville Mountain Advocate a while back:
“Some of my neighbors still shake their heads at the way I raise potatoes. I cultivate and fertilize my land in the spring, scatter potato eyes and peelings around on the ground quite thickly. Then I cover them all with a foot deep covering of leaves. Sometimes I even cover them the second time. The leaves keep the moisture in and most of the weeds down. Then when the stalks begin to turn brown, I walk over them. I can feel the large potatoes under the leaves. Then I can reach down and pick a few to have for my meal. Then later in the fall I rake off the leaves and there are the potatoes.
Tuck guarding the potatoes before putting the leaves on top.
The reason I have sweet corn late in the fall is because I keep planting corn every two weeks until the Fourth of July. I plant two or more rows every two weeks, planting one kind of sweet corn at one end and another at the other end. This gives me a variety of corn all summer long. Since I preserve corn by freezing, I don’t need to plant a whole lot of corn at once. I usually pick two or three times the amount of corn I need for a meal, cut off the remaining corn and freeze it. In earlier years we used to can a cooker of corn at once but now I can do a little at a time.
This method of planting garden can be applied to carrots, red beets, green beans and other food. This allows us to eat fresh produce all summer and into the fall. It also means stretching weed control out much longer.
I even go one step farther. I plant flower seeds in the rows, especially in peas and beans. Then when the vegetables are done, there is a flower garden. One problem with that is it limits having others help in weed control unless they know flower plants also.
One lesson to learn from this is there is more than one way to raise a garden.”