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Planting in my new raised bed: potatoes, onions, and more

Everything is greening up and it is officially my favorite time of the year!

We are planting potatoes, onion sets, spinach seeds, and lettuce seeds in our raised bed this month.   

There have  been a lot of posts on social media in the past few years about re-growing your vegetable scraps. I’ve never done that, and when it comes to potatoes, you should always purchase certified disease-free potato seed for planting in your gardens or containers.

I purchased two 4-pound bags of seed potatoes for $12, which was entirely too many seed potatoes for my small area (8 square feet), but I wanted two varieties and I will be sharing the extras. Below are the steps for cutting potatoes. You can get many “seeds” from one single potato tuber. It’s important that each piece has at least a few eyes/nodes, which will become the plants. Remember that potatoes are a storage organ of the stem, which has growing points called nodes, so that is why you can divide them and they will grow. Carrots, beets, and radishes, on the other hand, are root cells and do not have nodes on them, so you cannot cut them into pieces and expect them to grow into new plants.

Early potatoes should be seeded 3-5” deep, later season potatoes can be 5-7” (so that they won’t be sunburned). More specifics on growing potatoes can be found here. I want small potatoes for roasting with the skins on, so we planted 4 seeds per 1 square foot in the raised bed, with the intention that I will dig them as I need the space in my succession planting plan. Many early seeded vegetables can be harvested at many different stages (early or later, young leaf lettuce or more mature leaves, young baby beets or larger beets, green spring onions or larger ones, for example).

We seeded 9-16 onion sets per square foot with the hope of thinning them out and eating them as spring green onions and leaving a few to grow larger.  

We also added hoops to the raised bed which will support floating row cover to help insulate and protect it from pests, including deer, in the coming weeks. Once it warms up, then I will transition to deer netting over the hoops. 

We used ¾-inch, 10-foot long PVC pipes ($2.29 each), six 1-foot rebar pieces pounded into the ground for anchors, nails with plastic washers, and conduit 2-hole straps. The floating row cover ($15 for 7’ x 100’) is only 7 feet wide, but worked out perfectly with the 10-foot long pipe hoops. It’s always so nice when things work out accidentally! 

In order to make the cover removable to harvest and care for the plants, on the one side we used 4-foot boards connected to the floating row cover with nails that have plastic washers on them. The weight of the boards will hold the fabric in place (the boards are just hanging there).

We rolled the floating row cover and used a 6” landscape fabric staple to hold it in place, which can be easily pulled and replaced whenever access is needed to the bed.  

Hopefully next month we will have some photos to share of the sprouted potatoes, onions, spinach, and lettuce. We also plan to seed some radishes, beets, and turnips in the coming weeks. With the weather warming up, it also will be time to start scouting for insect pests and beneficial critters.

What do you have growing in your garden? Have you harvested anything  in 2021? Happy spring gardening!

By Ashley Bodkins, Senior Agent Associate and Master Gardener Coordinator, Garrett County, Maryland, edited by Christa Carignan, Coordinator, Home & Garden Information Center, University of Maryland Extension. See more posts by Ashley and Christa.

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