Saturday, July 04, 2009

Accidental Potatoes

Have I mentioned that we have a small worm farm? My mother, my niece and I love to fish with live bait for shellcrackers and bluegills, among other things, and red worms are the go-to bait for these feisty little sunfish. However, we found that often, when we were done fishing, we had as much as a whole box of worms left over.

A box of worms can cost as much as a dollar or more, so it seemed a waste to just pour them out in the ground once we were finished fishing, and we knew they didn't thrive in the small cardboard boxes, so I decided to look up worm farming on the internet to see if it was something we could do at home.

Sure enough it's very easy to raise your own redworms. You just need good soil, a large container, a sunny but temperate area to put your container of soil and worms, and table scraps like potato peels, fruit peels and cores (don't use citrus--it makes the soil too acid), and other vegetable scraps like the woody ends of asparagus or the wilted outer leaves of lettuce or cabbage.

So we started our worm farm, adding new additions to the gene pool for a while when we'd have leftover worms from fishing. And now, we have a big flat plastic container full of worms and dirt.

You need to change out the dirt now and then, but that's also a plus, really, because the worm castings in the old dirt are a fantastic natural fertilizer for plants. We changed the dirt early in the spring and then used the discarded dirt to use in planting our vegetables for the summer. Yeah, there were a few red worms left in the old dirt; hard to get them all. But that's good, too, because redworms do the same thing in the plants that they do in soil naturally--eat the leaves that fall off and excrete a natural fertilizer.

What we found, to our surprise, however, was that there was something else in the soil besides the worms and their castings. There was apparently a piece of red potato with an eye still in it, because one of our planters that we hadn't planted anything in yet suddenly began sprouting a potato plant. It's big, lush and responding beautifully to nothing but occasional watering. A couple of weeks ago, it bloomed, and today, I harvested the first four baby red potatoes from the accidental potato plant. We're going to have them either for lunch or dinner.

We're thinking about planting potatoes on purpose next year. They seem to thrive in our climate and being in the container rather than the ground doesn't seem to faze them.


Cissy said...

That's so cool!

Carla Swafford said...

Worm farm...good idea. I hated to let them die too.

When I was a kid, I always hated putting the worms on hooks, but I would do it. Strangely, I didn't mind fishing with minnows. Funny thing was at the time I didn't like eating fish. Now I can't eat enough of it. LOL!

Marianne Arkins said...

I actually bought a pile of worms to add to my veggie garden, lol. And cool about the potato. Actually, I'm thinking about planting them in containers next year on purpose -- makes hunting for the crop a LOT easier!