Potatoes, Tomatoes and Lawn Rabbits

 A busy week in the Coe Farm gardens.  We have had a ton of rain over the last week and dodged a couple of tornadoes.  One thing I did was “earth up” my potatoes.   My early potatoes are a variety called Bison from Ronnigers.  I planted these in raised bed number 1 in early March.  This week I mounded about 3-6″ inches of dirt around each of them.  I was low on dirt at the Coe Farm, so I brought over some buckets of sandy soil that I dug from the shore of the pond behind our duplex in Maize.  The mounded up dirt will help keep the growing potatoes underground and add some extra soil for the plants to produce more potatoes.  According to popular potato lore, the stem and branches that are covered by the soil will convert to tuber-producing growth.  Here is a photo of the freshly earthed-up plants.       

Bison variety potato plants 55 days after planting as seed potatoes from Ronnigers.

 In the photo you can see a great big pea plant vine in the background near the upper left corner of the photo.  Those pea plants are all gone now, eaten by lawn a rabbit(s).  This week  I went to the Coe gardens to put in a tomato plant (see discussion below) that I had bought the week before and was shocked when I saw all of my pea plants decimated by something that I assume was the small rabbit I have seen darting in and out from under a brush pile near the raised beds.  Also, the rabbit has been snacking on some young radishes that I had recently thinned out.  I’m hoping the radishes recover, I think the peas are a lost cause.  Here is a photo of my once-proud pea vines that had held so much promise for peas to go with my new potatoes.      

What's left of my garden peas. One really maddening thing about rabbits is that they cut the plant down and then don't even finish it before moving onto the next!

The tomato plant I put in this week was one that I bought at the All-Kansas Farmer’s Market at 21st and Ridge.  This farmer’s market is the greatest farmer’s market I’ve ever been to.    If you live in Wichita, go there on Saturday mornings.  It’s a nice friendly place with great produce that is all grown locally.  The vendors are friendly and love to give helpful advice about everything to do with small-scale farming.  I bought two tomato plants there on May 8 for $1.50 each.  They have been riding around in my truck cab all week and I finally planted one of them during a brief break in the rain storms this week.  The truck cab was actually a good place for them, it provided a nice hot-house environment for them.  I think they grew quite a bit while they were in there.  Below, I have a photo of my first tomato planting.  This one is a variety called “Champion” that is supposed to mature in 62 days.  The other plant I got from the Farmer’s market is called “Jet” which is perhaps the most popular variety around Wichita.  I heard about another variety on a radio show called “Cherokee Purple” which I plan to find one of and plant it in the Coe gardens.   I’m not sure how many plants I will have this year, but at least three.      

These nice tomato plants cost $1.50 each at the local farmer's market. The varieties are Champion and Jet.

This is the first tomato plant I put in this year. It is a variety called "Champion" that is supposed to mature in 62 days. If it is already a month old, doesn't that imply that I will have tomotoes by mid June? I doubt it but let's see.

2 responses to “Potatoes, Tomatoes and Lawn Rabbits

  1. Phyllis English

    Doug! Very interesting to see all the planting you have done. Sorry about the peas and rabbit invasion. Love to hear how things are going and hope that you have tomatoes in June. Will beat anything we have done to get tomatoes that early.

  2. My dogs keep rabbits out and they dig a mole or so every week. The problem is that the dogs dig a lot of holes to get a mole a week! I’ve grown Jet tomatoes before and they took a while to ripen even though they set in May. If you want early tomatoes try Russian tomatoes or Stupice, which I believe comes from Hungary. Anyway, Cherokee Purple is an heirloom tomato allegedly grown by the Cherokee since anyone can remember and everyone who grows it loves it. I am growing it for the first time this year.

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