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Fair royalty applications due tomorrow

SUN Columnist

The Archuleta County Fair Board has opened the 2014 County Fair Royalty contest to all young ladies in the county who meet the age requirements.

Royalty hopefuls will be required to complete an application, participate in an interview process and deliver a prepared speech in a public setting. A panel of judges will select a queen, princess and junior princess based on these activities.

For information, contact the CSU Extension office at 264-5931. Pick up applications at the Extension office or from Leeann Skoglund at the junior high. All applications must be turned into the Extension office by March 28 at 4 p.m. The contest will be held March 30 at 2 p.m. at the Extension office.

Consider potatoes

It’s officially spring and gardeners are gearing up for the exciting growing season ahead. If you are planning a vegetable garden this year and are looking for something that does well in our high altitude gardens, is easy to grow and that will be enjoyed by everyone in the family, consider growing potatoes.

The average potato provides 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, has 3 grams of protein, is an excellent source of dietary fiber and furnishes 12 other essential vitamins and minerals — all with no fat. And if you have limited garden space, few vegetables yield more food per square foot than the potato.

Most potatoes grown in Colorado are grown vegetatively rather than from seed as seeds cannot be used reliably to produce a uniform garden crop. Instead, start potato plants by cutting tubers into pieces that each have 2 to 3 eyes and weigh 2 ounces or more. To cut whole tubers into pieces, use a sharp knife sterilized with a 10 percent bleach to water solution (1 ounce bleach to 9 ounces of water).

Use only certified seed and do not buy potatoes for planting from the grocery store as most of these have been treated with a sprout inhibitor preventing them from forming a healthy plant. Archuleta County Extension office is selling three varieties of seed potatoes that have been grown at the San Luis Valley Experiment Station. See below for details.

When planting seed potatoes, warm tubers to 50 to 65 degrees to encourage germination and sprout growth. Tubers with sprouts one-eighth to one-quarter inch long are ideal. Do not wash seed tubers as this may increase their susceptibility and spread between tubers.

In Archuleta County, do not plant potatoes before Mother’s Day (May 11) or until the soil temperature reaches 45 degrees or warmer. You might want to get your soil tested for fertility now to see if fertilizer is needed at planting as potatoes need approximately .38 pounds of nitrogen for each 100 square feet of garden space. If fertilizer is needed, apply half of the fertilizer at planting and the other half in late June. Do not apply too much nitrogen as this may delay tuber development and decrease yield.

Plant potatoes in rows 30 to 36 inches apart and space seed pieces within the row at 10 to 12 inches at a depth of about 4 inches. Hills may be formed at the time of planting or in the following four weeks to provide more space for the developing tubers. If you planted potatoes last year, plant this year’s crop in another garden area to prevent disease and insect problems.

Generally, potatoes have a relatively shallow root system and take up moisture from the top foot of soil. Be particularly careful to avoid overwatering during the first weeks after planting. After plants have emerged, irrigate every three to five days, thoroughly wetting the soil to a depth of about 2 feet and water regularly to avoid water stress. Maximum water use occurs during vine growth and early tuber development.

Potato plants mature and begin to die about 70 to 100 days after planting, depending on variety. As plants mature, they use less water so reduce watering when vine death begins. To promote skin set, leave tubers in the ground for 10 to 21 days following vine death. This decreases bruising during harvest and permits better storage. Harvest when the soil temperature is 50 to 65 degrees. New potatoes, however, are harvested earlier, when vines are still lush and green. Skins of these small tubers are fragile and the tubers quickly dry out if they are not used immediately or refrigerated.

Seed potatoes available

Orders are now being taken for Colorado Certified Seed Potatoes grown at the CSU Experiment Station in the San Luis Valley. Varieties being sold for only $.50/pound are Sangre (red), Purple Majesty (blue) and the standard Yukon Gold (white). Approximately two pounds will plant a 10-foot row. To place your order, please call the Archuleta County Extension office at 264-5931. Orders may be picked up May 7 and planted after May 11.

CPR and first aid classes 

CPR and first aid certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6-10 p.m.

Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the extension office at 264-5931. We will also schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid, $55 for individual CPR or first aid and $35 for recertification with proof of current certification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.

This story was posted on March 27, 2014.