Talented Inventor (or whatever heading you deem appropriate)
Throughout the years of planting the FoCuS Potato Patch, volunteers have taken their trusty hoes into the field of growing potatoes and scooped freshly-rototilled soil from between the rows of potato plants onto the plants themselves. This process is called hilling, and it increases the yield of potatoes, since the plant stems are then covered with soil and will sprout more baby potatoes. Hilling is a lot like work, and we have plenty of that at home, so we have dreamed of mechanizing the hilling procedure.
Well, thanks to talented inventor Cooper Kessel, we can now do more leaning on our hoes than hilling with them. This year Coop decided to build an apparatus that would cover the delicate leaves and stems of the potato plants with loose soil as it was pulled along the planted rows by a tractor. Coop designed a potato cultivating and hilling attachment that could be used with the potato planter that FoCuS received a couple years ago by way of a grant from Sonora Area Foundation.
The hiller utilizes a Danish tine, a spider cultivator, and a pair of 16” discs. After using the device for our first hilling at the patch on Zeni Lane, we discovered it needed some adjusting to perform optimally. The discs will be repositioned so they allow the cultivator to dig soil to a better depth. The device can be used without the discs as just a cultivator also, which will mechanize keeping weeds at bay.
The potato planter continues to get plenty of use in the county. Sonora High School’s Wildcat Ranch recently planted their Potato Patch using the machine. Their welding class built a hiller which seemed to work well at the school’s first hilling this year also. The county is definitely moving forward when it comes to food security!