Most of you know that grow potatoes in your garden that by this time of year most potatoes are starting to die back. This is a natural part of the plant cycle. You plant the potato, let it sprout then hill around it as it grows and produces leaves. Once the potato plant blooms then it usually starts to put on small potatoes along the stem. At this point the top pf the potato plant or leaves start to turn yellow and die back slowly as the tubers get larger. Usually once the plants are completely brown they are ready to be dug. I like to leave my potatoes in the ground until the plants are completely dead and brown. Allowing my tubers to season and the skins to toughen. I will dig a few as I need them to can or eat fresh but the majority stay underground until late in the growing season. Above you see the potato plants in the hills turning yellow and drying up.
Yet this is still valuable real estate in my garden that I do not necessarily want to take out of production for that long. My answer was to plant rows of field peas between the two hills as well as down each side. The peas will gradually grow over the slowly fading potato vines until they cover them. These peas as they grow will completely shade the ground above the potatoes discouraging weed growth while my potatoes are safely hidden beneath. At the same time these field peas which are a legume are helping to fix nitrogen in the soil. Some plants and pea pods will be pulled for feeding to the pigs and chickens. Both of which love them. The peas will be picked on some plants for my freezer. The remainder can be cut off with the weed eater and worked into the soil when the potatoes are dug to help add organic matter or even added to the compost piles for green matter.
Just one more way to use every square inch of that garden space and prolong and add to the harvest and help feed both humans and animals on the farm.
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter