Posts Tagged ‘farming’

Grow Your Own Sweet Potatoes

May 14th, 2014

By Deanna Lutz, Director of Operations

Potted Plant with Sweet PotatoAbout this time last year, I wrote about how easy it was to grow potatoes in pots, but did you realize that the vigorous sweet potato vine that is commonly found in containers can actually be sprouted from sweet potatoes and that you can even harvest a crop of potatoes at the end of the summer?

swpotatoesSweet potatoes are easy to grow and the vibrant chartreuse foliage of the vine can’t be beat! They will quickly form roots when sprouted in water but did I tell you that sweet potatoes are super easy to grow? You can root them first or simply cut off the end of a sweet potato or two, or depending on how many containers you have and plant in your pot. Potatoes from most supermarkets are treated to inhibit the eyes from growing so try to use organic potatoes.Be sure to select a pot at least 12-15 inches deep and fairly wide to give the potatoes lots of room to grow.

harvestSweet Potato Vine will grow best during the warm days of summer, thriving in sun or shade and prefers moist, well-drained soil. You may begin to enjoy your home-grown sweet potatoes in late summer but it is better to leave them until the leaves begin to yellow and die back. In fact, leave them in the pot for as long as you can as an early frost will not damage them. Once harvested, allow them to mature for a week or so in the warmest area of your house with good circulation to allow the skins to ripen and the flavor of the potato to sweeten. Once mature, your potatoes are ready for use in cooking and will store quite happily in a cool dry place for a month or so. There’s nothing like the unforgettable flavor of a sweet potato that you grew yourself!

Grow Your Own Potatoes!

May 27th, 2013

By Deanna Lutz, Director of Operations

Growing your own Potatoes is easy when you follow these four easy steps.

STEP 1: Find a Suitable Pot
With so much the planting going on this time of year, there’s a good chance you have some large plastic pots on hand that the plants came in. Instead of putting them in the recycle bin, why not grow yourself some potatoes?! No large pots, you say? An old trash can or even a large bin will work just as well for growing potatoes. It is very important to not let the plants dry out but you don’t want them soggy either so make sure there is good drainage in your pot.

STEP 2: Selecting Your Potato
You don’t necessarily need special seed potatoes, any small fresh organic potato that sprouts will easily grow in your pot, but beware that some store-bought potatoes may have been treated with an inhibitor that prevents the eyes from sprouting. After making sure that they have not been treated, select your favorite variety or mix it up for a fun and flavorful harvest!

STEP 3: Plant Your Potato
Plant the potatoes in 6-8 inches of soil mixed with compost, leaving several inches of space between each one. As the vines grow every 5″ or so, add soil, compost or straw, mounding it around the vine and leaving about 1″ uncovered. Doing so allows for the stem to create more potatoes as the plant is buried deeper. Keep mounding on the soil, compost or straw until your pot is nearly full.

STEP 4: Harvest Your Home-Grown Potatoes
Harvest a ‘new’ or ‘baby’ potato at any time. These potatoes will not store long, so enjoy them right away. If you wait until the flowers start to fade and the stalks turn yellow, your biggest potatoes will be ready and may be stored for a period of time in a cool, dark place. But who’d want store potatoes when they are your own home-grown fresh-as-can-be goodness to enjoy?!

If you’ve never gown potatoes, give it a try. They are very easy to grow and will nourish your soul as well as fill your belly.

History of Evening Chores

December 21st, 2012

By Ann Bodling, Children’s Garden Associate


It was drizzling as I headed down to the barnyard.  The sky was grey, dusk was early and most of the chickens had decided that staying indoors and dry, was preferable to being outdoors and wet. They didn’t seem to mind being closed in a tad earlier than usual.  Our laying flock includes Red Stars, Black Stars, White Rocks and Barred Rocks laying brown eggs in various hues, Leghorns laying white eggs and, Americanas laying lovely eggs of blues and greens. The chickens are housed in four coops built long ago, having sheltered literally dozens of generations of laying hens who have roamed the chicken yards, shaded by towering sycamore and sweet gum trees.  Like previous generations and the generations to come, our flocks roost on the old roosts and lay their eggs in the old nest boxes.

As is often the case on weekends, the farm was quiet and I was alone with the animals – a rich, sweet, peaceful aloneness in which everything felt exactly right, exactly as it ought to be.  As I made my way into the barnyard, the animals were waiting for me.  The watch-geese, I call them, have the loudest voices on the farm and sounded a raucous alarm that the evening routine was about to begin (someone has to do it, I suppose, and they have taken the responsibility to heart).  I gave the donkey his hay in the pasture, allowing the geese and I to scoot into their pen at the back of his stall. I closed them in and as they greedily gobbled their corn, I called to the turkey, already on his way to his own quarters. Eager for his own rations, he unhesitatingly marched into his pen and I latched the latch, leaving him happily pecking his way through dinner.

Turning my attention to the evening milking chores, I gathered the washing solution, washcloth and milk pail and headed in to Annie and Marmalade, already in place and munching blissfully on the fragrant hay. I breathed in deeply and smiled.  Though the world is filled with many wonderful scents, I don’t believe there are any finer than that of warm cows and good hay. I looked around the small old milking barn wondering how many cows had previously stood in the stalls that are now occupied by our cows, how many hands milked those cows, and how many gallons of milk had fallen  into shiny metal pails, just as I was doing and others will do after me.

Living and working on Hard Bargain Farm has allowed me to step into the history and the continuum of this place.  Wherever I look, be it barns or houses or the fields and woodlands, I am aware of those who have gone before, living their lives and taking their sustenance from this land. I am grateful to be a part of that continuum and for the opportunity to do the same.