Thursday, March 31, 2011

Planting vegetables by the traditional methods compared to new

Over the next few weeks I thought I would look into traditional methods of growing vegetables, here is a brief introduction. Beginning gardeners may prefer to use the traditional planting methods for their first garden. A basic piece of broken ground is the starting point for marking, shaping, and planting your spring seeds.
Choosing a planting method for your first garden can be difficult with so many different methods recommended by different gardeners. If you don’t want to experiment for your first trial, following the traditional planting methods of the past will yield an excellent harvest without any extra effort.
Rows, Mounds, and Other Matters

Corn, potatoes, and other crop-like plants are traditionally planted in rows, as well as “head” plants like lettuce, cabbage, or onion. Your dirt is mounded and hoed in a straight line, spaced evenly apart from the second row, with as many as your space allows. Planting corn in mounds (often round ones) allowed room for additional fertilizer to be added, like the Native American tradition of burying a small dead fish with the seeds.
Hills or mounds are traditional favourites for planting tomatoes, cucumbers, and even squash. The mounds vary in size, depending upon the recommended spacing for the plants, with no more than three plants usually added to each mound. Usually the dirt is mounded 2-4 inches thick above the level ground, with holes dug away from the centre and spaced apart according to the variety’s preferences

Placing rocks or markers around your mounds helps hold the mounds in place and keep them from washing away, as well as mark the location of your seeds. Place them at the ends of the rows to mark the beginning and end of each planting location
 I shall start this week with the potato.
Potatoes were originally first brought from the Americas to Europe in 1573 and introduced into Ireland around 1590. By around 1780 it was the staple Irish diet. The traditional Irish method of planting the potato was in what was called "lazy beds". Low trenches were dug at about three foot intervals. The sod and dirt were piled up between the trenches. The beds were enriched with manure, rotted straw, and/or sea weed. Whole potatoes were cut into pieces so each piece contained an eye. These seed potatoes were usually put in the ground in around May time. The beds were tended to keep the weeds from chocking the potato plants.
The leaves and flowers of the potato plant are poisonous. The tubers themselves can be poisonous if sunlight hits them and turns them green. Consequently, during the growing season more earth was taken from the trenches to cover the tubers and prevent them from turning green in the light. Early potatoes are ready after around 100 days with a second crop in around 110-120 days. The main crop matures in about 130 days. The first two crops were harvested when the plants was still green. The main crop was harvested after the mature plant has died.

remains of a lazy bed in Connemara

Things have certainly moved on, i tryed the stout method last year with very good results, this method first came aboout in the 1930s when Ruth Stout decided she no longer wanted to garden the old-fashioned way. She started growing all her vegetables, including potatoes, on top of the soil, by covering them with a very thick layer of  organic mulch.
The Stout method involves no digging, cultivating, hoeing, weeding or additional fertilizing. Seed potatoes are simply placed on the ground, and a thick layer measuring at least 8 inches of rotted straw, hay, grass clippings, leaf mould, garden compost is spread on top of the seed potatoes.
The Stout Method for Planting Potatoesthumbnail
 Potato shoots will grow up through the mulch; as they grow, more organic matter and straw can be added which replaces the earthing up process that is performed on potatoes grown in the soil. More hay or straw can also be added to choke off any weeds that appear or if the mulch becomes too compacted.This method for growing potatoes works best on soil that has already been enriched by previous additions of organic materials, as it takes a while for the thick first layer of mulch to decompose enough. Mulch can be put down at any time of year in an area that has been recently used for ither crops


Jayne McCullough said...


Andrew King said...

Thankyou Jayne, I'll be putting a piece up weekly about old and new methods like this, I hope you enjoy them, all the best, Andy

mjdale1 said...

I remember my granda telling me of this! great stuff. a good article

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