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How to Raise Potatoes in the Home Garden If you like tender, juicy potatoes, home-grown are definitely the best. Although the plant of the potato is visible
above the ground, the end product is found below the soil. The process from preparing to eating can take as long as
3-4 months, but the results will be worth the wait. Gardening experts agree that the best time for potato planting is
about a month before the last spring frost. This time period will allow the potato to emerge from the soil after
freezing conditions but be harvested before the extreme heat of summer. Although this vegetable can be purchased
rather cheaply in the supermarket, the quality of home-grown potatoes far exceeds those bagged on grocery shelves.
The production of potatoes can be divided into these steps: (1) preparing the soil, (2) preparing the potatoes, (3)
planting the potatoes, (4) maintaining the plants, and (5) harvesting the potatoes.
Note: The highlighted green text is called an advance organizer to indicate the major steps you will be
discussing. Use this format in your instructions.Do not put this note in your instructions.
Tools and Supplies
To complete the entire project you will need the following tools:
Tiller (if available)
A tiller is a gas-powered machine that can break up, mulch, and aerate soil with deep-cutting blades that extend deep
into the ground. Tillers are useful in small gardens over one-hundred square feet. A typical tiller is somewhat larger
than a gas-powered lawn mower and requires a larger, more powerful engine than do typical lawn mowers. Its most
important components are its blades, usually measuring 24 to 36 inches across, that turn in a circular motion digging
down into the soil with a continuous motion. Gas-powered tillers make preparing a garden much easier, faster, and
less back-breaking than doing so by hand with a shovel or hoe. You guide the tiller along in front of you and set the
depth that the blades will cut into the soil. You make several cuts through the soil to fully turn it over and aereate it.
A garden tiller can also be attached to the rear of a small tractor. This type of tiller provides satisfactory results but
may pose some difficulty in controlling the direction. Figure 1. Troy-Bilt Tiller You will need to purchase the following:
Insecticide to control insects
I have highlighted the first word of each sub-task. Notice they are all imperative verbs. This is how you will
begin each task; with an imperative. Do not use gerunds (the ?ing form of the verb) to begin the tasks.
Preparing the Soil
Although potatoes can be raised in virtually any type of soil, best results can be achieved in loam which is a red clay,
sandy combination. Once the garden plot has been selected, the following steps will utilize the best growing
conditions: (1) clearing the land, (2) loosening the soil, and (3) digging the holes.
1. Clear the land of all debris and plants to improve growth of your potatoes. Best results can be achieved if
all debris and previous growth is removed from the area. It is suggested that raking the entire plot will
prove beneficial as the plants start to grow. 2. Loosen the soil to allow the potatoes to develop into healthy plants. Although a hoe and rake will provide
satisfactory results, the job will be much easier with the use of a gas-powered tiller. These can be rented
from local equipment rental facilities. 3. Dig the holes correctly to enable the potatoes to grow above and below the ground. Although there is some
difference in varieties, most potatoes should be planted from 3-5 inches below the ground. These holes can
be dug with a hoe in a long trench or individual holes. Preparing the Potatoes
Although any type of potato can be used for planting, best results can be achieved with the purchase of certified seed
potatoes from a local nursery. After securing the potatoes, they can be prepared for planting by (1) cutting into
pieces and (2) sprouting the eyes.
1. Cut the potatoes with a small, sharp knife. Cut the seed potato into several pieces making sure each piece as
at least one eye and a large piece of the potato.
Note: It is important to include at least one eye on the planting portion since the new potato will grow from
the eye. The first food for the plant will be derived from the portion of potato. Figure 2. Potato plant
2. Sprout the eyes to provide better results for future plants. Lay the pieces out on flat or shallow trays and
allow them to sit in a sunny, airy place for several weeks until the eyes sprout. These sprouts will be dark
green and closely clustered in the eye. Planting the Potatoes
Once the soil has been prepared and the potatoes have sprouted, you are ready to put them into the ground. This
procedure is extremely important to the success of your future crop. The planting can be divided into these steps: (1)
inserting the potatoes, (2) covering the potatoes and (3) giving the potatoes a boost.
1. Insert the potatoes correctly to insure the emergence of your plant. Place a small segment of the sprouted
seed potato in your previously dug trench or hole. Place one piece of potato every 12 inches. Make sure the
eye of the potato is facing up to direct the plant out of the soil. 2. Cover the potatoes with sufficient loose soil to enable the plant to emerge successfully from the soil. If the
trench or hold has been dug to the correct depth, you should be able to cover each potato piece with
approximately 3 inches of surrounding loose soil. 3. Give your planted potatoes a boost with water and fertilizer to start them off on the right track. Since the
eyes are already sprouted, water and fertilizer will allow for the continued growth of the plant toward the
surface of the soil. Sprinkle lightly with commercial fertilizer or manure and then water each location
thoroughly. Maintaining the Crop
Although the potatoes are now in the ground, it is important to follow some simple procedures to guarantee the
success of your potato yield. This is a crop with a fairly long growing period, so maintenance of the garden will
ensure success. The steps for maintenance include: (1) weeding the plants, (2) fertilizing the plants, (3) controlling
insects, and (4) watering when necessary.
1. Weed the plants on a regular basis. Use a sharp-pointed hoe to chop out the foreign weeds. Removal of the
chopped weeds will ensure that they do not start to grow again.
Warning: The vines of the potato can grow freely along the ground. Be careful not to damage the growing
plant. 2. Fertilize the plants of the potato to ensure growth above and below the ground. The type of soil will
determine the correct fertilizer to be used. A local nursery can provide the information you need. 3. Control insects in your potato garden to enable your plants to continue growing. There is an all-purpose
potato dust or spray that can be purchased to control most bugs that will damage this vegetable. 4. Water the plants if there is not sufficient rainfall. Keep a water hose nearby to water whenever the plants
seem dry. This will become even more important as the summer months get hotter. Harvesting the Potatoes
After several months of anticipation, your potatoes should be carefully observed to determine if they are ready to be
harvested. Because your crop should provide potatoes for many meals to come, it is important to finalize your
project with the following procedures for harvesting: (1) determining correct time of harvest, (2) removing potatoes
from the ground, and (3) storing the potatoes for extended use.
1. Determine the time of harvest, depending upon several factors. When the vines have completely died down,
the potatoes below the ground will no longer grow. You may also check the size of your potatoes by
digging up in various spots throughout your garden. 2. Remove potatoes from the ground. It will be hard work but very rewarding. Very carefully dig up a large
area of earth around each vine using a spading fork. Turn over the soil and carefully remove the potatoes
from the soil. Allow the potatoes to dry completely. 3. Store the potatoes for extended use to allow you to enjoy them for many months to come. The best
environment for storing potatoes is a cool, dark place with plenty of air. Slat crates are much better than
solid boxes or bins.
Warning: Potatoes that have been dug up should not be exposed to the sun any longer than is necessary to
remove dirt. The sun will make the potatoes acquire an unpleasant flavor. Although the process of raising potatoes is a time-consuming, lengthy procedure, the results can be very satisfying.
Not only can you enjoy the benefits for many months, you may also be able to share your harvest with friends and
This instruction set has been modified to use imperative voice, from this website.
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