Manure Tea-Organic Gardening

  (San Juan Capistrano, California)
Manure Tea Build Strong Root Systems
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Green Beans & Manure Tea

 By Carolyn Binder

Harvesting Potatoes

A Garden Treasure Hunt and a Recipe for Leek and Potato Soup

Harvesting Potatoes

The potatoes that we planted in the fall were ready for harvesting this weekend. Fresh potatoes have a wonderful, snappy texture and flavor that I have never found in store bought potatoes. They are such an easy and rewarding crop to grow. Here in the south, we plant our seed potatoes in November in raised beds that are rich in compost and healthy organic matter. Check with your local extension office to determine the best time to plant in your zone. Once the vines grow a few inches, we give them a good 4-6 inches of mulch to keep them cool and protect them from the sun. Other than that, regular watering is about all that is needed to encourage potatoes to grow strong and healthy. An occasional, maybe monthly, feeding with compost tea or manure tea helps, too. We use Moo Poo tea, as it is natural, easy to use, and good for the soil.

How does one know when to harvest potatoes? Well, the plants tell you. As long as the potato vines look healthy and green, the potatoes are still growing deep in the soil. During this time, you may harvest baby “new” potatoes if you would like. This year, I left all of my potatoes in the ground for a main harvest. Potatoes take about 120 days to fully mature, depending upon the growing environment, weather, watering practices, and other elements. Once the vines begin to flower, the tubers underneath the soil begin to swell. Shortly thereafter, the vines will slow down, and begin to turn yellow and brown and fall over. They don’t look nearly so pretty. This is natural, and a sign that the taters are ready. Hallelujah!

Several days before you plan to harvest, discontinue watering the potato bed. This is a big help in harvesting, as it’s much easier to dig through light, dry soil than through heavy, muddy soil. To begin the harvest, remove any mulch, and pull up all the potato stalks. They are great to add to your compost pile. Then, the fun begins. Most people use a flat tined fork or pitchfork to harvest potatoes, but because I plant a small crop in raised beds, I start the treasure hunt for those beautiful tubers by putting some gloves on and searching through the soil by hand. This does take a little more time, but I enjoy the hunt, and it has a major advantage in that my gentle hands won’t damage the delicate skins of the tubers. If the skin is damaged, the potato will not store well.

Once I have worked my way methodically through the entire bed and found all the potatoes I can, I go back through it again with a pitchfork, slowly and methodically.  I dig section by section, getting the pitchfork as deeply as possible into the soil, carefully turning it over, and piling it on the previous section. This process serves two functions. First, I find the rest of the potatoes that are deep within the bed, and second, I begin to prepare the soil for a new crop by removing any debris and weeds and turning over the soil. Once I have removed every last potato, I finish preparing the soil by adding compost and organic starter fertilizer, turning it into the soil, and smoothing out the bed. Now the bed is ready for a new crop.

Storing Potatoes

Once you have harvested all your gorgeous, fat tubers, you will probably want to celebrate and enjoy some of your harvest immediately. I always do, and last night I made a lovely leek and potato soup, rich with home-cured pancetta, cream and fresh thyme from the garden. I made enough to freeze a batch for later, too. The remainder of the crop should be cured for storage. Gently wipe off most of the remaining soil, and spread the taters out in a cool, dark and dry area that has good ventilation. Examine the tubers for any damage, as damaged ones will not store well. I don’t throw these away, but I do cut away any damage and use them immediately (I used these for my soup). Unblemished potatoes should be cured for a few weeks, and then stored in well, ventilated sacks in a cool, dark place. Properly cured, they will store well for months. It is not recommended to store potatoes in the refrigerator, as the cool temperature encourages the starch to turn into sugar. However, that’s where I store mine, as we don’t grow enough to store for longer than a few months.

Just-Harvested Potatoes and Leeks

Leek and Potato Soup with Pancetta

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup of diced pancetta or bacon
4-6 leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, thinly sliced (about 4 1/2 cups)
2-3 large potatoes peeled and diced
4 1/2 cups (or more) organic chicken stock
1-2 cups half and half
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (for garnish)

Preparation

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until beginning to crisp. Add leeks; stir to coat with butter. Cover saucepan; cook until leeks are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add diced potatoes. Cover and cook until potatoes begin to soften but do not brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Add cream and thyme, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs (the leaves will have fallen off ).

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth and silky in texture. Or transfer the soup in batches to a blender to puree. Thin with additional stock if soup is too thick. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Bring soup to simmer. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with chives and serve.

 
 

Growers are Sharing

Moo Poo U

Musings on organic gardening methods and products

It took me several years of gardening to fully appreciate just how important healthy soil is. But when I began growing food for my family, I embraced organic methods. Why go through all the effort to grow your own food if you are just going to spray it with the same chemicals the commercial farmers use? And why expose yourself to those chemicals while you’re supposed to be out enjoying nature?

When I began organic gardening, I really did not expect to harvest the same yields that I would obtain from using chemicals. Boy, was I wrong! It took awhile to learn about organic gardening methods, and I’m still learning, but once I began to regularly amend my soil with natural, healthy matter such as compost, worm castings, and aged manures, the garden responded with generosity. I rarely have problems with disease or fungus. My plants tolerate heat better, and my yields feed my family and friends very well! Most nights after work, we throw something on the grill, stroll out to the garden and pick our dinner!

In addition to amending my soil, I regularly feed my plants and with natural teas made from compost, worm castings, or fish emulsions. This season, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to try out Haven Brand Moo Poo Teas.  Annie Haven and I are Twitter friends (follow her on @GreenSoil and me on @CowlickCottage–we’ll introduce you to tons of Twitter gardeners!), and she comes from a family of ranchers that raise grass-fed beef. I think it’s brilliant that they use the Moo Poo to create fabulous organic fertilizers. When Annie sent me a trio of teas, I was delighted with its neat, environmentally friendly and very pretty packaging.  The reusable fabric tea bags make it a breeze to make a big, 5 gallon bucket of garden goodness. A couple of weeks ago, I used the alfalfa tea on my roses, and the Moo Poo tea on my vegetables and container plants. Here’s a peak at the results from the first tea party of the season! read more...

 
 

Manure Tea for Strong Plant Roots

Manure Tea for building strong root base systems naturally is easy to achieve with Authentic Haven Brand premium soil conditioner teas. You can now grow all your indoor and outdoor garden plants naturally, with our Easy to Brew, Easy to Use manure tea there is no smell. You will find Authentic Haven Brand Eco hand packaged manure tea bags user friendly and naturally good for your Container, Patio, Balcony and Home garden soil. You brew Authentic Haven Brand manure tea just like you would "sun tea for yourself".

Directions: 

Place one Authentic Haven Brand manure tea bag in a 1 to 5 gallon container of tap water and allow it to steep for one to three days then dilute one cup manure tea to four cups water and water all your indoor and outdoor plants (use every time you water or four times throughout the growing season).

About Authentic Haven Brand

Authentic Haven Brand premium soil conditioner is pure manure (cow or horse) harvested from Haven raised Livestock only! Haven Livestock are raised naturally on grass pastures, Free of antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides. You can't grow wrong when you grow Green with Authentic Haven Brand, premium soil conditioner "Manure Teas"

Authentic Haven Brand is your "Brew it Fresh" Green garden product your plants root systems will love. We look forward to you growing Green with us http://www.AuthenticHavenBrand.com 

 
 
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