Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

Archive for June, 2008

Growing Sweet Potatoes – underneath those vines, there really are sweet potatoes

Posted by pallix on June 30, 2008

I have a sweet potato vine growing in a container in my kitchen window, and I keep wondering if it would actually grown a sweet potato underneath the soil. Perhaps so. From a poster at one of the listservs I am subscribed to, she cites her experience with sweet potatoe vines…and it sounds like it was an unexpected surprise to her to find actual sweet potatoes growing.

I am put off a bit by learning the sweet potato is a cousin to the morning glory vines, and yes, the leaves of the vine do look much like the morning glory vines in my yard. Since I already ‘fight’ with the spreading morning glory vines that never really are eradicated, but I try to keep them from overtaking our intentional plantings, I’m not sure I would want to generate another aggressive vine spreader with sweet potatoes. So, I will think some about this, how I can grow and keep contained, because I do want sweet potatoes – Yes!

A shout out of thanks to Brenda for sharing her experience (below):

I just took pieces that were sprouting & put them against a chain link fence. The vines grew all over the fencing. Then they branched out all over my garden.. like weeds. When the leaves started to die a little, you could see the potatoes peeking up from the mound at the base of the plant. As I started pulling up the runners, I kept finding more.

They are a member of the morning glory family & the vines act like it… I had one potato that was the size of a coconut!! No special care. Didn’t water them any more than the normal grey water from the laundry & whatever water God gave me. No pesticides. A little mulch from the horse stable but nothing special. I harvested more today. Very hardy. Willing to take over the world if you let it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Growing Potatoes in Garbage Can (or other similar container)

Posted by pallix on June 30, 2008

Okay, I wanted to try this last year, and so another growing season, and I am doing it this year (2008).
From a poster on one of my listservs – the simple explanation and then the detailed explanation with link to site.

We have been growing potatoes in containers for years and it is really easy. You need to put drainage holes in the bottom and broken clay pot pieces to help drain water off the roots to prevent root rot. Add some rich soil (we compost all left over veggies from the kitchen) then plant your potato eyes. As the vines grow cover them with more loose compost and they will keep growing. Web site that explains the process in more detail.

Link to detailed instructions;

How to Grow Potatoes in a Container (Ciscoe’s Secrets) ——————————————————————————–

Get a clean garbage can or similar container. Plastic works great because it won’t rust out. Drainage is absolutely necessary. Drill several 1/2 inch holes in the bottom. It also helps to drill some holes in the side about half-inch up from the bottom of the container.

Fill the container with about 6 inches of good potting soil. Mix in about a handful of osmocote 14-14-14 fertilizer. Osmocote is a slow release fertilizer that will stay active for approximately 2 1/2 months. Organic fertilizers formulated for acid loving plants such as rhododendrons also works well. (Note: After 2 1/2 months with osmocote, or about 1 1/2 months with organic, fertilize with a good water soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Grow about every two weeks according to directions on the label). Place whole seed potatoes in the soil. There should be about 5 inches between potatoes. Cover with an additional inch or so of soil. All potatoes should be completely covered with soil. Water the spuds in.

The potatoes will begin to grow. When the vines reach 4 inches, cover all but 1 inch with compost or straw. I like to use compost, because it is easy to reach in to pick potatoes. Every time the vines grow another 4 inches, keep covering all but the top inch. Eventually, the vines will grow out of the top of the container. It is a good idea to stake up the vines so they don’t fall over and brake. Place 4 bamboo or wood stakes (one in each corner) and tie the vines to the stakes with twine. By now the whole container will be filled with compost. Soon the vines will flower. Not long after that, the vines will begin to produce potatoes all along the vines that are covered with compost in the container. Once they have become big enough, you can reach in and pick a few for dinner any time you want. These spuds are called “new potatoes.” They won’t keep long in the fridge, so pick-em and eat em. After the vines die back at the end of summer, the potatoes remaining are storing potatoes. You can harvest and store them as you normally would. These will keep well as long as they are stored in a dark, cool, and relatively dry location.

One last note: take care to provide adequate water. You don’t want to drown the plants but it’s also important the soil at the bottom never dries out. In late summer spuds may need to be watered on a daily basis. Use a watering can to water to avoid wetting the foliage. I found that keeping the containers in an area with morning sun exposure prevents the soil from drying out too rapidly and still allows enough sun for a bumper crop.

This method of growing spuds is really fun. You get lots of them without using much space, and it amazes visitors to your yard. Last year I harvested 35 large Yukon Gold and 55 good sized Peruvian Blue potatoes. Great served with brussels sprouts!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Epsom Salts – Nutrient for flowers and plants

Posted by pallix on June 30, 2008

entry from the Tacoma News Tribune ‘Get Growing’ blog

Alert! This just in from the Epsom Salt Council. Could it possibly be true?

Just as “Milk does a body good,” Epsom Salt may be one of the most perfect nutrients for flowers and plants. And mid-to-late spring is the ideal time to nourish the soils and roots of your favorite foliage and flowers with this inexpensive and easy-to-use compound. According to the Epsom Salt Council, research indicates Epsom Salt can help seeds germinate; make plants grow bushier; produce more flowers; increase chlorophyll production; improve phosphorus and nitrogen uptake; and deter pests, including slugs and voles.

Anyone used Epsom salt? What did you think? If you haven’t tried it, but want to, the Epsom Salt Council recommends these amounts:

Shrubs (evergreens, azaleas, rhododendron): 1 tablespoon per 9 square feet. Apply over root zone every 2-4 weeks.

Lawns: Apply 3 pounds for every 1,250 square feet with a spreader, or dilute in water and apply with a sprayer.

Trees: Apply 2 tablespoons per 9 square feet. Apply over the root zone 3 times annually.

Garden Startup: Sprinkle 1 cup per 100 square feet. Mix into soil before planting.

Roses & Tomatoes: Use 1 tablespoon per foot of plant height per plant; apply every two weeks.

For more details, click here.

UPDATE: WSU professor Linda Chalker-Scott has written an interesting article that takes a skeptical look at using Epsom salt in the garden. Click here to read.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Bus Fare for Pacific Transit not planning price hike

Posted by pallix on June 24, 2008

For rural transit agencies, fare hikes aren’t as useful. Pacific Transit in southwest Washington has seen ridership increase, but the system is small and fares are low — from 35 to 50 cents.

 

 

“A certain percentage of the public depends on public transit — seniors, disabled people, people who can’t afford a car,” Director Tim Russ says. The agency has always wanted to “keep fares as reasonable as possible,” he says, “and we intend to keep it that way.”

   excerpt is from Crosscut  Seattle article ‘Get on The Bus, Gus, unless it costs too much’

This is good news to hear, as with the climbing gas prices, more people in more places will look to public transit.  Here in Pacific County, we still have an operating bus sytem.  No trains though, and the train tracks were taken up.  I wonder if the future hold relaying some of those defunct train tracks?   

Since this area used to operate as a bay community, use of boating for transportation, I do also wonder that should gas prices, use of vehicles become too prohibitive, if a return to waterway transportation might come back into vogue here.

 

Posted in Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Transportation | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Senator Cantwell gets $2 Million approved for Doppler Radar in SW Washington

Posted by pallix on June 24, 2008

 A U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee has approved a $2 million request from Sen. Maria Cantwell for a Doppler radar and other equipment needed to track weather patterns along Washington state’s coastline. reads the first paragraph in an article at Daily World, an Aberdeen, WA newspaper.    Good news indeed! Especially to those of us in Southwest Washington counties who experienced the December 2007 storm (hurricane strength storm!) that flooded out Lewis County and had four counties in SW Washington declared FEMA disaster areas –  my county, Pacific, and neighboring counties, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Thurston.

A deserved shout out of thanks to Senator Cantwell.

read more below the fold

 

  The storm hit us in December and was unrelenting for almost 3 days.  For many, and for us in Pacific County, we found ourselves cut off and isolated from the rest of the state for several days without power, land line phones, cell phones, gasoline, or access to much in the way of help or services.  Which isn’t to say that the Emergency Management Teams were not responsive; rather that the isolation was an outcome for several days.  You can read more about it at the Washblog story here  and here of course, here at this blog.  In March 2008, Senator Cantwell held a meeting of the minds roundtable in Aberdeen, WA to discuss the whys and wherefores of the storm.  What came out of that meeting was the lack of adequate Doppler Radar coverage to read the weather conditions in Southwest Washington.  

The Olympic Mountain Range and Willapa Hills (where we live) provide an interference that the current Doppler Radar located in Scappoose, Oregon is unable to read.  The only other Doppler Radar to cover reading weather conditions in Washington is located far north at Camano Island. Oh, and KING 5 TV news has it’s own Doppler Radar that it purchased but it cannot read the weather conditions in SW Washington due to the natural terrain interference (Olympics and Willapa Hills).  

  Meanwhile California coastline, which is far less storm-laden than our own Washington coastline, has mulitiple Doppler Radars to read that coastline weather.  The inconsistency becomes more conspicuous as was evident in the powerful presentation given by University of Washington Professor Clifford Mass (see his website here) at the Senator Cantwell roundtable meeting held in March.  

  Arthur and I attended that meeting in March, as bloggers at Washblog, as residents of Pacific County directly affected by the storm, and as general public.  We were and are certainly not experts. I took notes, even had a brief interview shown by KIRO 7 TV, but I didn’t get around to actually writing up the story at Washblog.  I did start to write it up here at WB, and can’t recall for what reason I didn’t conclude posting the actual story as I had the notes. Now I wish I had posted the story of the meeting.  

 So in the absence of having written up the story, here are excerpts from the article ‘Doppler radar station funding clears one hurdle’ at Daily World this weekend;

 

The request was spurred on by the savage December storm and intense lobbying by concerned residents as well as local community leaders. The approval is just the first step in what is usually a long process to get federal funding for practically anything these days, although the senator hopes the funding will make the final cut in a 2009 appropriations bill.The Coastal Radar was one of the top priorities given to Sen. Patty Murray during a community forum immediately after the December storm. A few months later, Cantwell conducted her own forum on the issue at Grays Harbor College and residents again were given a chance to make their case, which was spearheaded by Professor Clifford Mass, of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

 

Cantwell’s Press Office said the funding was approved on Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Science, Justice and Related Agencies.”Despite having the worst non-tropical storms in the nation, Washington state has the worst weather radar coverage of any U.S. coastline,” Cantwell said in the press release announcing the news.

“Our nation’s weather radar system has a gaping blind spot right over the outer coast of our state, placing our communities at risk and hindering the everyday lives of our citizens,” she added. “Just last fall, Washington state experienced storms with hurricane-force winds and torrential rains that hit right in the heart of this blind spot. The funding passed today by the Senate Appropriations Committee is a major step toward solving this gap and better protecting Washington neighborhoods, businesses, and communities.”

 

Cantwell’s Office didn’t say where the Doppler radar would be located, but the likely spot would be in the Westport-Grayland area, which would be able to catch weather patterns coming not only off the coast but in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the mouth of the Columbia River.The fishing industry, in particular, has been lobbying hard for the doppler system for years now, citing the dangers of fishing off the coast without a clear warning of storms that could be coming on to the horizon.

Cantwell’s Office noted that a single radar on the central Washington coast could view storms over a hundred miles offshore.

As an aside, I know my neighbors up in Mason County and Kitsap County on the Peninsula also  felt the effects of that storm in December.  I think with the sizeable, and unexpected flooding out in Lewis County which cut off I-5, some of our neighbors storm woes did not get much media coverage.  

On an upside to this storm, I read that some of the flooded out farmers in Lewis County are able to make a showing this season at the Olympia Public Market.  Why not pay a visit and make a special effort to purchase produce from the Lewis County vendors?

By Lietta Ruger

Posted in climate warming, coastal storm 2007, Doppler Radar, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, pacific northwest storm 2007, storm 2007 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »