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Wed Feb 8, 2012, 07:53 PM

What's your potato growing success story?


Gardeners have thought up all sorts of methods for growing potatos. What's yours? I am looking for new ideas for this year's garden.

It won't be long before I need to get to work here in the veggie patch.

Thanks, all.





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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply What's your potato growing success story? (Original post)
Tsiyu Feb 2012 OP
applegrove Feb 2012 #1
Tsiyu Feb 2012 #6
HopeHoops Feb 2012 #2
Tsiyu Feb 2012 #7
HopeHoops Feb 2012 #11
Tsiyu Feb 2012 #12
HopeHoops Feb 2012 #13
Tsiyu Feb 2012 #14
Ruby Reason Feb 2012 #17
Tsiyu Feb 2012 #19
NMDemDist2 Feb 2012 #3
Tsiyu Feb 2012 #8
Denninmi Feb 2012 #4
Tsiyu Feb 2012 #9
Denninmi Feb 2012 #15
NEOhiodemocrat Feb 2012 #5
Tsiyu Feb 2012 #10
NEOhiodemocrat Feb 2012 #18
Kolesar Feb 2012 #16
Tsiyu Feb 2012 #20
Paper Roses Feb 2012 #21
Denninmi Feb 2012 #22

Response to Tsiyu (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 08:18 PM

1. My aunt collected bags of seaweed from the coast of Nova Scotia and grew

her potatoes in that. We joked that the spuds came out salted. But I think it really worked well.

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Response to applegrove (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:02 PM

6. Wow...very interesting



Makes sense though!


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Response to Tsiyu (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 09:15 AM

2. I just tilled a 25'x4' bed, added potash and a basic organic fertilizer, and planted them, BUT...

 

I hedge on the last frost date. It is supposed to be 1 June around here but I try to get the potatoes in by 1 May if the weather looks like it will hold up (and not be too wet - they rot if it is too wet when you put them in). I dense plant and always have a full hedge by the end of June. The main reason to plant early is to avoid potato beetles. By the time they show up, my plants are past the pollination stage and they just seem to ignore them. As summer moves on, they die off and look like nothing. We just ignore them after that. Sometime between late September and early November we use a fork to carefully turn the bed and strong young eyes to spot the potatoes. We always get enough from that one bed to last us into the early spring - and we still have a lot left right now. The purple potatoes are my favorites, but I've had great luck with intermixing red and large yellow or white in the same bed - along with sunflowers. If the sunflowers don't beat the potatoes to a certain height, they won't make it. Otherwise they are beautiful. The birds eat most of the seeds, but that just means more fertilizer for the potatoes.

Oh, and as with other nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.), potatoes like to be grown in the same place each year. Don't bother with crop rotation.

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:07 PM

7. I wish I had space that large to plant



I had purple and yukons last year in a much smaller space and they did okay but I want MORE!

The early tip makes sense. I plant my yellow squash late for the same reason - the squash bugs are gone by the time mine are vulnerable.

Do you hill your potatoes? What do you use?

Thanks for the tips, and I am really enjoying your daughter's blog (I think it's your daughter. :shrug I feel like I'm traveling with them.



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Response to Tsiyu (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 09:09 AM

11. We're not on a farm, but we do have .42 of an acre. And yes, that's my daughter.

 

KrystinasCrossings.com - she just put up an entry about being vegetarian in Budapest.

We don't hill the individual potatoes. It's a non-edged raised bed. When the soil has enough organic content, you can make a good sized rounded row and it will hold its form even in heavy rains. I use that entire bed for potatoes. There's one parallel to it that's half asparagus and half onion. Then there's a perpendicular bed of the same size for the tomatoes, peppers, and whatever else we decide to grow. The remaining part of the rectangle is a perennial bed that's gorgeous from spring to fall (various bloom times and colors - took some planning).

We dense plant and even still we plant radishes and lettuce in between and around everything. Even if it doesn't produce enough to eat, our bunny likes the thinnings and both have extensive root systems they abandon when plucked so that helps build the soil.

We also have a 16'x4' herb bed on the other side of the house that started out looking so empty and is spilling over the sides now. One 4'x4' section is dedicated to basil, but the rest of it is just "whoever wins gets to stay" space. I built it a few years back and my wife loves it. And yes, it has parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

On top of all of that, we have a shitload of containers going with mints, chives, annual flowers, hot peppers, and whatever else we decide to try container planting. The banana mint and cilantro escaped years ago and live a happy coexistence with the roses, small shrubs, and blueberry bush. Garlic just gets planted wherever there is space. Every August, my wife has all of the ingredients from our own garden to make the most kick-ass salsa I've ever had - anywhere. No matter how much she makes, it doesn't last long.

As for the squash bugs, we have a daily chore (rotates) to go out and squash the eggs. It works very well, but I've had seasons where they pretty much destroyed the leaves and the damn plant kept producing more fruits! The same with our tomatoes. They can be brown and ugly but for some reason they keep putting out flowers and making more fruits. I think the key is to establish a strong root system early and that provides the strength when they can no longer rebuild their own. The plant sort of sacrifices itself for the sake of making fruits.

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #11)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 11:22 AM

12. I've read about your "produce" before and I am impressed



A lot of people don't know how GOOD homegrown veggies are compared to store bought. Once you figure it out it's an obsession, isn't it?

Then sometimes I think that certain people just have a "GottaGrow DNA." If I don't plant a garden, I feel like I am a sinner of the worst sort. But my acreage is mostly in the shade. So I am limited in planting space.

Your baby's blog is really well done. I finished A Romantic Education a few weeks ago, and have the bug to get to Eastern Europe someday. We considered a move to Prague in the early 90's. My (now) ex worked for GM and they were doing some operations there and asked him if he'd like to relocate. I was all for it! Can't wait to hear how she finds it.

My daughter came home from college this past weekend. She invited me to our friends' restaurant, where they stuffed me full of wonderful food and served me beers and then after closing time they locked up and we all sat around and visited. Some other friends of theirs came to hang out with us. Everything was on the house, lots of fun. She makes me socialize when she visits.

Then she took one of her cats back to school. As I'm handing the cat to her to put in the carrier in her car she says, "Mom DO NOT CRY!" and I had to laugh. "Are you saying I'm a sentimental blubbering fool? Of course, you're right!"

Grown kids are a lot of fun.






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Response to Tsiyu (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 11:33 AM

13. That they are. Her boyfriend may move in here and get a local job.

 

He pretty much lived here all summer, but he commuted 60 miles to a shit job in MD. He's a good kid, but his mom is a little fucked up in the head. She'll throw him out of the house and has a key-lock on his door. He can't even get in to get his work clothes. That's just not right. He's a potential son-in-law and has a key. I have to discuss it with my wife (daughter just suggested it this morning), but I doubt she'll mind. He's a big help around the house.

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 11:58 AM

14. When I had kids at home



There were times kids stayed with us. You're a good dad to think of the young man.

And if he helps in the garden...well yay!

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Response to Tsiyu (Reply #7)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 08:35 AM

17. If your space is really small...

our family has had success growing potatoes in bushel baskets. It is one plant per basket, but they can be wedged in pretty tight to each other. One plant in a basket can yield up to 18 potatoes (at least that is the most we've had in a basket). If it yields that many though, they tend to be small. More like 8 to 10 per basket if the potatoes are large. Still it is fun and they can be moved about. I think the bushel basket keeps the potatoes from rotting. Plastic pots of about the same size seem to hold to much moisture. We've never tried clay pots, but I think they would then be incredibly heavy to move.

We just dump the basket at harvest time and it saves on digging it up. This is especially nice if you have young children or grandchildren. Then potato hunting is guaranteed to be successful!

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Response to Ruby Reason (Reply #17)

Sun Feb 12, 2012, 12:29 AM

19. That is a very cool idea

where does one source cheap bushel baskets? Do you mean the ones made with wood slats or whatever?

That would definitely save space.

And yeah, I looked like a demented mole trying to hand plow up dirt and find all the taters last year and not miss any!


Thanks for the tip

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Response to Tsiyu (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:30 AM

3. i want to try growing them in bags

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:10 PM

8. Ahh that looks like fun



One of my friend's dads did that with tomatoes. He'd just buy bags of compost and plant his plant right in the bag.

I've seen people grow them in all sorts of things, and was wondering about something more upright, like a tub or something where you could just keep hilling the taters as they grow.

I have chickens and horses, so no bags are around the manure here....but it looks like it could work.


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Response to Tsiyu (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 11:29 AM

4. I find potatoes among the easiest things to grow.

My experiment of the last 4 years has been perennializing potatoes by leaving some behind in the bed, mulching deeply, and fertilizing well each year. Its worked out surprisingly well, except last summer voles moved in and started going after them, so not sure what will come up on the spring. I always had leftovers sprout here and there most years, so I thought, what the heck, why not try it. And it worked. No disease problems that I've noted.

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Response to Denninmi (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:12 PM

9. I had some purples come back last year


I wondered if it was a fluke or if they could overwinter. I'll have to see if any sprout again this year. What do you use for mulch?

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Response to Tsiyu (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 06:59 PM

15. Mostly oak leaves, a few other kinds.

We have a lot of oaks in my area. They are great because they stay fluffy and take a long time to break down.

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Response to Tsiyu (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 04:26 PM

5. I love to grow potato's

I dig rows in trench style--maybe 9-12 inches deep. Plant leftover sprouted potatoes from the year before down at the bottom of the trench. As the plant grows just keep filling in the dirt until the ground is level with the rest of the garden soil. After that I just mound up if see any potato's peeking out. After the tops die back I leave them go until we dig, usually in mid September. This last year I got 5 bushel and they were the largest ones I have ever grown. I think it was all the rain Ohio had. I generally don't plant them until in May because of needing fairly dry soil to plant in.

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Response to NEOhiodemocrat (Reply #5)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:13 PM

10. What variety are you using?



That's a lot of taters. How long was your row?


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Response to Tsiyu (Reply #10)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 04:48 PM

18. I use sprouted potato's from the basement supply every year

also my mother-in-law used to give me her sprouted potato's. So I have a mixture of varieties, main one is just regular white potato and other main one I have has a very slightly yellow meat. Don't really know what they came from originally. I have multipal rows spread around the garden, if I had to guess I would say maybe this last year had two rows about 20-25 foot long side by side and then 5 rows in another area that were about 12-15 foot long, so anywhere from 100 foot to about 125 foot. Plus if an area opens up and I have more old potato's laying around I tend to plug them in the ground. We do get a lot of potato's out of the garden, but I have one child at home and four off on their own to supply. They never seem to turn down the veggies, especially once they are grown, dug and washed! This last year I grew the biggest potato's ever in all my years of gardening! I sort of missed the teeny tiny ones I always pick and just wash and put in veggie soup as is. There were hardly any small ones at all.

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Response to Tsiyu (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 06:33 AM

16. Kill the grass first, then dig a trench

Dig a pretty deep trench for your row, 10 inches or more. Scratch up the soil a bit and mix composted manure in with the loose soil at the bottom of the trench. The roots will grow down into that mix. I use manure for nitrogen, and add rock phosphate per the dispensing requirements "on the bag". The rate for manure is about 50 pounds per 20 lineal feet of row. Over the years, I have put doses of greensand at the rate recommended in the bag. You would probably be putting a pint of phospate and a pint of greensand in with the "mix".

Add a small amount of lime if you soil is calcium deficient. We had over limed our garden over the years and that brought the pH up to an alkaline level. Potatoes get "scab" in alkaline soil. Some of our potatoes had scab last year.

The soil tester kits at the garden center are probably good enough for pH and nutrient levels.

Seed potatoes are usually undersized. It is best to place them whole into the trench, about 12 inches apart. I go with about nine inches spacing. You could cut your potatoes and let them set out for a day before planting them.

I place the potatoes in the trench, then bury them in the soil from the trench. The row still will look like a trench. When the plants grow to 12 inches high, fertilize them, then bury them halfway with the excess soil on the side. When the plant grows another 12 inches, bury them with the remaining soil on the sides. The soil to keeps sun off the potatoes, else they get green. Green means solanum, which makes some people sick.

I fertilize with compost. Water your plants during the potato development period. Last summer was quite wet and our potatoes developed an unappealing "hollow heart".

If you have clay soil, you are going to have to mulch the plants with straw instead of burying them in soil like I do. I have not done that. There are articles on the internet about straw mulch. You can even grow potatoes in a barrel. I prefer to grow on the soil, where the water table can bring water to the roots.

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Response to Kolesar (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 12, 2012, 12:50 AM

20. Thanks for all your suggestions



My garden is established already, and I only have to fork most of the soil over. It has been "manured" every year for quite a few years so the soil is very easy to work. But your nutrient suggestions are interesting. I usually get an "organic" all in one fertilizer for the flowers and veggies to save money and use hardwood ash to adjust the pH, but this year I think I am going to get a kit or take a sample to the Extension office to see what has been depleted over the years.

I have seen where people make boxes, use tubs, etc., but it seems most here are having good luck with traditional row cropping.

I really appreciate everyone's suggestions.

I spent the day at work outside in 28degree (F) temps and a crazy wind caring for a shipment of 300 plants. Fun stuff. The weather decided it wanted to be winter again all of a sudden!

Can't wait til REAL spring, myself, Kolesar!

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Response to Tsiyu (Original post)

Thu Feb 16, 2012, 10:25 AM

21. I have several spots in my small yard where nothing will grow. One section is on the corner

Last edited Fri Feb 17, 2012, 05:14 PM - Edit history (1)

of my house and very visible.

Last spring, out of desperation, I quartered up some sprouting potatoes, turned the soil and plunked in the spud sections about 12" deep and about 12" apart.
Nothing ventured.....

What a great surprise when, a few weeks later, out popped sprouts.
I watered them now and then.
In the fall, maybe mid to end of September, I decided to dig up these nice bushy plants.

Beautiful crop of potatoes. The added bonus. The plants filled the spaces where nothing would grow. I gave some to neighbors.
They will be doing the same thing this year.

I have some potatoes right now that have gone to sprout. I'm afraid it is too early to plant them here in NE.
I use Maine or Nova Scotia if I can find them. I guess I'll have to wait until the next batch sprouts unless I can keep these for months. How long can sprouting potatoes last for planting, anyone know?

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Response to Tsiyu (Original post)

Thu Feb 16, 2012, 11:09 AM

22. My grocery store came through for me again.

Just like last year. Last week, they had several varieties of potatoes on sale.

This week, it was the inevitable clearance on the starting-to-sprout, we-bought-too-many bags, 10 cents a pound.

So, I bought about $15 worth. We'll eat a few, since my home-grown supply is down to the small ones. I'll probably feed some to my birds.

The rest should make nicely sprouted seed potatoes in 2 months, along with whatever is left of my own crop.

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