Posts tagged Good Friday

City gardens ready for potato planting on Good Friday

imga00711Good news for gardeners who lease plots from the city and want to get their potatoes planted on Good Friday… 

Despite some weather setbacks, Cedar Rapids parks staff finished tilling and marking all three of the city garden sites this week. Cedar Rapids leases out 150 plots at Ellis Park; 102 at Squaw Creek Park and 60 at the Tuma Soccer Complex. As of today, only 97  plots were rented at  the Ellis garden, which was flooded out for the season last June. Soil tests for benzene, arsenic and other chemicals have come back at safe levels, but some of the people who gardened at Ellis may have also been flooded out of their homes and won’t be back to garden.  

I spoke to E.B. Kunkle of Cedar Rapids today, who appeared to be the first gardener back at the Ellis site.

E.B. Kunkle

E.B. Kunkle

E.B. was planting onion sets. Last year, he was able to harvest green onions, spinach and radishes before the floods wiped out everything. Gardeners were advised against returning last year due to possible contaminants. Today’s weather was in the 50s and the soil was dry enough to get started, at least on onions. E.B. has tried growing potatoes in the past, but they were overcome by (my nemesis) the potato beetle.

Gardening lore calls for potatoes to be planted on Good Friday, which is tomorrow (April 10, 2009.) I doubt that I’ll get mine in that day, but as usual, turned to my uncle, Craig Musel, for advice. Uncle Craig gardens near Chelsea, Iowa, and always manages to win at least a few blue ribbons for his potatoes at the famous and fabulous Iowa State Fair. I talked to him Monday, and he said he started planting his potatoes about three weeks earlier, which would be mid-March. His tip? “I plant them whenever I can get them in the ground,” he said and keeps planting “until I’m done.”  Those blue ribbon winners – never want to reveal their secrets.

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Not so good Friday?

Good Friday, by tradition, is the day to get your potato crop planted, but with snow still on the ground, and an earlier than usual Easter, what do the experts say?

I’m not a potato farmer, but fortunately, my uncle, Craig Musel, grows some of the best potatoes around and is a State Fair  blue ribbon champ:) He also has a biting sense of humor, so when I ran the question past him, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I plant whatever I get in the ground,” was his first reply.  Ok. But really, Craig, are you going to get your potatoes in the ground tomorrow or not?

Maybe it’s a trade secret, because his answer was somewhat vague. Not only does tradition have people planting potatoes on Good Friday, but anything that goes underground, like potatoes, should be planted under a “dark moon,” while above-ground crops, such as watermelon, go in under a full moon. Since Good Friday is always a full moon, the alignment doesn’t make good planting sense, Craig said. Still, he has planted potatoes around this time in years past, and they grew beautifully. Northland and Cobbler are two early varieties he recommends. 

So, if Craig can get the snow off his garden in rural Chelsea, he’ll be out planting at least some of his potatoes on Good Friday. The cold shouldn’t be a problem, as long as the potatoes don’t freeze. He doesn’t think they will. But the snowstorm predicted for tomorrow might be a deterrent.

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