Potato Plants & What Eats Them?

balsam_girlMay 12, 2008

Hi,

I've broken new ground this spring for a larger potato patch (four 25 foot rows 56 inches apart) and have enclosed it with 5 & 6 foot high fence. But the fence is not rabbit proof (yet) and I'm wondering which critters eats the above ground part of potato plants? I think my neighbor had problems with deer eating them some years ago, but then deer eat almost ANYTHING! I'm pretty sure my fence will keep the deer from eating my plants, but how about rabbits and hares? Woodchucks? Do they eat potato plants like they gobble up the rest of a garden if not well protected? Or do they shun this member of the nightshade family?

My soil is 4-6 inches of loamy sand and then pure sand, poor, somewhat acidic, droughty, with the water table at about 4 feet down. I've read up on potato culture and am giving my rows lots of space (56") because I can't easily water or irrigate and this will let them better forage for moisture. I'm going to grow them in pine "straw" as I have an unlimited supply of that in my woods and it helps keep them clean, so they say. I am using seed potatoes from last year's crop (Yukon gold) which I have been saving and planting since 2003. In future I plan to add muck and peat to the soil as I can get that right here on my land. It does help improve the tilth of the soil. Otherwise I'm using 10-10-10.

The potato is a very interesting and versatile plant and in this time of food shortages and higher prices it feels empowering to grow something that can be a winter staple kept in the root cellar, and even if the work and time involved doesn't really pay, the mental rewards might.

Any other potato growing tips and comments would be welcome.

Anyone expanding their potato patch this year? What are your favorite varieties and why? Anything that tops Yukon gold?

Thanks!

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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Probably the dreaded Colorado Potato Beetle. Do a google image search. There are 3 stages you have to worry about:

1) Eggs - little orange clusters on the underside of leaves
2) Larva - fat, pink, slug-looking things that eat the leaves
3) Adults - black and yellow striped, hard shelled beetles.

If you find any of the above, KILL THEM!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 1:57PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

A few years ago when I was growing potatoes I was having a terrible problem with woodchucks. They ate nearly everything in my garden. They ate selectively, starting with the beans and lettuce, if I recall correctly, and proceeding to less tasty plants. Potatoes were at the bottom of their list and I don't recall losing any potatoes.

There are lots of rabbits here but, for some reason, they have never bothered my garden. It is fenced but I think they could find a way in if they tried. The woodchucks did.

A neighbor only a few houses down the street has a flimsy little fence which is less than knee high around his little garden, yet he has never been troubled with critters. My fence is three feet high and the bottom is well buried in the ground, yet those woodchucks fought their way in. It's all a big mystery to me.

I don't know if any of this will help you but I wish you great success with your potatoes. They are a fun and valuable vegetable to grow, quite different from anything else.

Jim

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 1:58PM
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