I love using companion planting techniques in my garden. It creates a more varied appearance in the garden beds, and it's good for the plants themselves. Every year, I try to plant my potatoes with some beans. Studies have shown that growing potatoes with beans reduces the amount of beetles that make an appearance.
Last year, I stopped cutting up my potatoes before I planted them. The potatoes still grew big and healthy, so I'm going to skip that step again this year. I also started buying my seed potatoes at our local food co-op. I used to order them online, however, our co-op carried great varieties, and they're much cheaper. A couple of weeks ago, I dug a huge trough along either side of the garden bed. Then, I spaced each potato about a foot apart. I bought my seed potatoes kind of late in the year, so they had already chitted (grown sprouts). I covered them with a bit of dirt, but I did not fully fill in the trough. By planting them deeper, I don't really have to hill around the potato plants later in the season.
Two weeks later, they started sprouting from their trough. I evened out the garden bed, and I made a space down the middle for the bean seeds.
I'm growing three kinds of potatoes this year. Tim and I love potatoes year round, so we make room for lots of them in the garden. This year's plantings include.
Adirondack Blue: Round to oblong, slightly flattened tubers have glistening blue skin enclosing deep blue flesh without the white vascular ring. The moist, flavorful flesh is superb for mashing or salads; it’s a favorite in taste tests. Very high in antioxidants. Spreading plants with tinges of blue have clusters of pure white flowers. This variety bruises easily during harvest and is extremely susceptible to fusarium soft rot. Grading has proven to be very difficult as the soft rot spreads into the center of the potato and is not readily visible on the surface. (From the Maine Potato Lady)
Peter Wilcox/ Purple Sun: Round to oblong tubers have brilliant purple skin and dark yellow flesh, occasionally streaked with purple. Large set of 2”-3” tubers set high in the hill. Very tasty; excellent for roasting or boiling. Excellent storage. Exceptional nutritional values and market appeal make it a good choice. Spreading plant with mauve flowers. (From the Maine Potato Lady)
Lehigh: It is named for Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, where, in extensive trials, potato growers found that Lehigh offered consistently high yields across very diverse growing regions. These round to oblong, slightly flattened tubers with appealing yellow flesh provide good flavor for soups, mashing, or fries. Resistant to blackspot bruise; tolerant to scab. Semi-erect plant with white flowers. (From the Maine Potato Lady)
I'm growing five kinds of dried beans this year, and three will grow in this bed. I decided to plant three bush beans varieties here. Not having to add a trellis means that I'll have one less step to take in the companion planting process.
Seed savers has an excellent collection of dried bead varieties. In this bed, I planted:
Tiger's Eye: Originally from Chile or Argentina. Wonderfully rich flavor and smooth texture. Very tender skins almost disappear when cooked. Great for chili or refried beans. Can also be used as fresh shell bean. Productive 24" plants. Bush habit, shell or dry, 80-90 days. (These can be used to make homemade refried beans, and I'd like to have enough to try.)
Lina Sisco's Bird Egg: Family heirloom brought to Missouri by covered wagon in the 1880s by Lina’s grandmother. Lina Sisco was one of the six original members of SSE, which was founded in 1975. Large tan bean with maroon markings. Horticultural type used as a dry bean. Bush habit, dry, 85 days.
Calypso: Originally from the Caribbean. One of the best for baking and soups. Round black and white seeds with contrasting eye borne heavily on strong 15" plants. Averages 4-5 seeds per pod. Adapts well to all types of production areas. Bush habit, dry, 70-90 days.
Once the season ends, I'll do a re-cap on the relative success of my potato and bean varieties.
How do you grow you potatoes and beans?