Getting in the Garden Groove with John Schroeder: I Need Your Help – With Spuds!


OK, so it’s been nine weeks now that I’ve been posting these ramblings on vegetable gardening. As I said at the onset of this endeavor I am not a formally trained gardener. I didn’t take any classes and until recently I hadn’t done much reading on the subject. I’ve just learned more and more about what it takes to be successful by putting in a garden year after year and benefitting from the ongoing experience. Now I finally feel like I’ve got a good handle on being successful with most things I try to grow. That is, except for the starchy tuber know as the potato.



For some reason I never grew potatoes until about three years ago. I’m not sure why it took me that long to try them. Maybe it was the horror stories I had heard about the dreaded potato bug decimating the plants of people I knew who had grown them. It might also have had something to do with the fact that my parents didn’t grow spuds - so I had never tried them either. That is, until a friend offered me some extra fingerling potatoes that he had left several years back. I had a bit of open space still in the garden that year so I figured I’d give them a try. And what a revelation it was.


Those first potatoes were easy to grow, very tasty and they hooked me in to the point where I think I will always grow them now if I have the room.


I’ve tried several different varieties of spuds since then. This year I purchased Red Norlands (which are like a baby red variety) and one called "Elfe," which I’m told is basically a Yukon Gold. I also planted a handful of fingerlings (given to me again this year by that same friend,) and I also cut up a couple of older russets that we had brought at the store but hadn’t used before they sprouted. So if they all do well I will have quite the variety to enjoy here starting in about three weeks.


Since I’m still a relative newbie with potatoes I’d love to hear from you if you’ve grown them and have learned any tricks. I’ve heard of the mounding practice that helps protect the taters from the sun. I hadn’t experienced potato bugs until this year. A little over a week ago I noticed that some of my plants were partially defoliated, and upon further inspection I noticed a chubby little orange beetle-like bug..and then another one…and finally more a bunch more. I probably pulled three dozen bugs off the plants that night. I found a smattering of other bugs the next couple of days but since then (fingers crossed) I’ve seen no more. I’d welcome any comments you might have on things you’ve learned from your times growing this root vegetable that is quickly becoming a favorite for me. Feel free to comment on this post.



Bonus: Back on Memorial Day I took five different pictures of different areas of our garden. I had just put in my tomatoes and peppers, my cabbage and broccoli bedding plants were still getting established and other row crops were starting to take off. I thought it would be interesting to compare pictures from one holiday to the next, so this past weekend I brought the camera back out to those same locations and took five more photos on the 4th of July. Check out the “night and day” difference we’ve seen here in just over a month. June was above average temperature-wise, and that combined with lots of watering has led to explosive growth!


Crop Progress 2020


Next week: Natural soil enhancers.


John Schroeder is a sales guy at Townsquare Media St. Cloud, but in his past life, he was an on-air personality specializing in sports. But what really turns his crank is getting out in his 28 x 15 foot vegetable garden several times a week nurturing, eventually harvesting (and sometimes sharing) homegrown food.


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