|Fresh, organic potatoes from the garden!|
As the potatoes grew, we stacked tires and added dead leaves, sawdust, woodchips, and hay around the plants until just the tops of the plants poked out. Potatoes love loose, loamy soil; so a mix of leaves, sawdust, hay, and woodchips give the tubers plenty of space and nourishment. Now four and five tires high, we've been waiting until the leaves began to die off—a sign that the potatoes are ripe for picking.
Here's a potato plant just begging to be dug out:
To start, I removed the top tire and put the compost materials in a wagon to be carted over to our three-tiered compost bin. I was careful to shake out the compostables to ensure I wasn't overlooking any young potatoes (usually you don't start running into spuds until you've taken at least three tires off your stack). Here's a slideshow of me removing layer by layer, making sure not to waste any of the primo compost matter I'm taking out of the tires—by spring, this will be lush potting soil! Thanks Katie Mollica for being the photographer for this instructable:
Once at the bottom tire, I took the full stem of the potato plant and tossed that into the compost pile as well:
Now we get to the good stuff. The bottom layer is nothing but thick, rich earth that is like Miracle Gro on (all-organic) steroids:
It's in this black gold that you find your treasures: gorgeous potatoes that are perfect for home fries, smashed potatoes, potato-leek soup, or... homemade pierogies (stay tuned!):