Potato Question

dianega(7 - ATL)April 11, 2012

Ok, more than one question actually...

I grew potatoes for the first time last year. Kept "hilling" them with straw, but didn't get many at harvest. I must've missed a few small ones since I see some potato plants growing in that spot. This is a small terraced area, about 6 feet long.

1. Will it be ok to let them keep growing in that spot? I know it's generally recommended to grow in different soil each year to prevent diseases. Or should I rip them up? If rip up, what is the minimum distance away to consider for planting new potatoes?

2. If it's ok to let those keep growing there, should I go ahead & plant the rest of my seed potatoes there also? I have limited growing areas so want to consolidate planting to one spot.

Thanks for your advice!

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If you didn't get many at harvest what have you done to determine why? What have you done to improve the soil in that area? How do you plan to change your growing methods/conditions? Those would be the crucial factors in deciding whether to plant there again.

Rotation is required. The need for it all depends on how you take care of your soil.

Whether to leave the resprouts or not - generally they are not all that productive and resprouts are often hard and not edible. Why waste the space on them?

Dave

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:08AM
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RpR_(3-4)

Rotaton is not required, it is desired.

I have been growing them for over thirty years and do not rotate every year. I still get more than I can use often.

If you are new to planting potatoes, you should not have to worry about disease which is one reason rotation is done.
Two years ago I had havested very late in the year and was in a hurry, so when I did I missed some, actually is appeared I missed most of a row.

So I just incorporated the old pattern into the new.
Everything worked well.
This year I will be planting far more than I planned to use up some of last years crop along with new seed.

This year though, I am moving to an area that has not had potatoes for at least three years.
As I am getting lazy and do not want the hassle of trying to put all the leaves on the roses into a compost bin, I will be planting shallow and using most of the leaves over the poatoes seed to make digging them this fallo much easier and quicker.

Next year you probably should plant them in a different area although my father planted them three or more years in the same area often, but he would put sheep manure in the garden in the fall.
Disease has never been a problem for me but in an area as small as yours once you get it, you will have a bigger problem in a small area.
So just be careful in choosing your seed source.

What do you consider not many?
Different varieties produce different amounts on average.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:39AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Rotaton is not required, it is desired.

Absolutely correct. My statement above should have read "rotation is NOT required". Sorry for leaving the most important word out. The mind and the fingers weren't yet in sync. :)

Dave

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 1:54PM
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dianega(7 - ATL)

I think the reasons for low harvest was two-fold: I put them in late & also got very busy in the summer so I neglected to harvest on time. I also have a lot of chipmunks & I think they may have gotten some. When I dug around under the hay, I just didn't find many at all & most were small. So the low harvest was probably my fault (& the critters).

So... if I'm reading this right, I could plant again there since this is only the 2nd year without too much worry about disease? But that the re-sprouted ones should probably get ripped up & put new potatoes in their place? Right?

Btw, my method was to loosen/scratch up the dirt, lay potato seed on top, cover with straw & leaves. As plants grew, I kept adding straw. I read numerous articles claiming this "lazy" way worked & makes it easier for harvest. Since these are in a terrace (due to very steep back yard), I can stand on the level below & reach in, but it's precarious to stand on the potato level & use a shovel/fork to dig. What do you think?

Thanks for your help!!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:51PM
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RpR_(3-4)

You can lay them right on the ground, I have done that, but it is best to serioulsy loosen, i.e. dig and turn over with a fork the ground they are lying on, and dig a shallow trench.
I vary, sometimes digging a shallow trench and putting leaves right over them, but get better results if I simply cover the potatoes seed with dirt, just enough to cover and then put the leaves over that.
I have also buried, under dirt, them up to eight inches deep so I have tried many methods and yes the top of the ground is the lazy man's method,to a degree, except you have to pay attention to their being too little mulch or water, at the same times too much heat which adequate water should aleveate.
I have never planted potatoes so shallow, without mulch that I have ever HAD to hill, but even when I planted deep, sometimes there would be some popping up on the surface anyway.
It is the digging in the fall that is easier, not the growing part.

If you use straw, make sure they get enough water as straw does not retain water as leaves or some other mulches do.

Just leave the old plants in, I always have and their potatoes are as good as the others for eating.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 3:21PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Btw, my method was to loosen/scratch up the dirt, lay potato seed on top, cover with straw & leaves. As plants grew, I kept adding straw. I read numerous articles claiming this "lazy" way worked & makes it easier for harvest. Since these are in a terrace (due to very steep back yard), I can stand on the level below & reach in, but it's precarious to stand on the potato level & use a shovel/fork to dig. What do you think?

That was a main factor in your low yield. You are taling about the Stout Method and with greatly improved fertile and well cultivated soil like Ruth Stout had it works. In real life and the real garden, it doesn't.

Potatoes are normally planted in a shallow trench and then hilled up with dirt as they grow. Then the hills can be topped with straw or hay. Without soil hilled up around the stolens as they develop potatoes won't be produced. Plus you don't mention anything about feeding and watering them - both very important considerations.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Grow Potatoes in the Home Garden

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 3:59PM
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