So this week, we are going to talk about hilling your veggies, specifically root veggies. I will be chatting about potatoes which many of you probably know about, but also beets, turnips and carrots.
The main reason you want to hill potatoes is increase your potato yield. When your potatoes are about 8-12 inches tall, you want to hill them. The other reason to hill a potato is sometimes your potatoes start to surface. If they actually are showing, and come in contact with the sun, the potato will get a green tinge to the skin. This is actually toxic. You should really avoid eating potatoes that have come in contact with the sun and have got that green tinge.
You can add compost before hilling them around the plant if you want. I’m fairly confident with how much nutrient I put in during planting, so I don’t (as you may note in the video). However, you can, and it can make bigger and more plentiful potatoes. The big problem is if you have lots of nutrients already, you may put too much in, and if your nitrogen levels get too high, you will get wonderful green plants with little produce, so add as you feel you need.
How to hill…
There are 2 ways to hill. The first way I show in the video. Remember in the blog a couple weeks ago about hilling your potatoes I mentioned its good to plant them in a tench? Well, now you will use the dirt from the “trench walls”. Simple get a hoe or a rake and pull the dirt towards the plant and bury the bottom half-ish of the plant. The newly buried stem will shoot off more roots and potatoes.
The second way is bringing dirt in from a different location to put around the plants if you don’t have enough to pull over from the garden dirt in the garden. If you are bringing in dirt and you know there is nothing in it, you may want to consider compost and my standard bone meal, blood meal and epsom salts…. or composted manure to add to your soil. You could also add some vermiculite to the mix to encourage water retention. (I don’t, but lots do and it does work. I don’t only because my garden is so big that I have to pick and choose what I can actually do on my own with a family and full-time job. If I had more time, I would bring in new dirt with new enrichments and vermiculite.)
There is a chance you will need to hill them again in a few weeks. I generally hill twice through the season.
Beets, Turnips and Carrots
Not too many people do this, but I like to. I find that sometimes beets, carrots and turnips can grow leggy and their roots pop out of the garden and you don’t get that awesome root that you want to eat. I hill them with a little hand rake. First I think them out (And I eat ALL the thinnings!) and then gently hill them by pulling the dirt closer to the plant. If you had seen my blog about planting carrots, beets and turnips, you will note that I planted them in a little trench too. The dirt is there for me to use.
So, if you hill these guys, your root will form better, and not be so exposed to the elements. The other advantage is that by using the hand rake you are very lightly fluffing up the dirt which will allow the root to grow deeper. I have found cylinder beets up to a foot long, and round beets the size of a baseball in my garden… and they are not woody! Same with my carrots, they grow long and strong.
Alrighty! Happy Gardening you all!!!
P.s. If you have questions, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org