Question on growing potatoes in straw

Nancy KesslerJune 1, 2012

Hi all,

You've been really helpful in helping me ID some plants on my property, I was hoping you can help me with a question on growing potatoes.

This is my first year growing potatoes and I am mounding them in straw. All the websites say that, as the potatoes grow, once they get 4-6 inches above the straw, you pile on more. My question is, when do I STOP adding straw? I've been mounding and my mounds are almost a foot tall! When should I stop and just let the potatoes grow?

Thanks for your help!

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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

we don't go much above about 12"s


Here is a link that might be useful: lens instant potato patch

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 3:56PM
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Nancy Kessler

Hey, thanks!

Your link is pretty handy.

So you just mound enough for the potatoes to grow in, and thick enough that they don't get any light, right?

I'm not sure what zone you're in, but from what I understand, you can get baby potatoes around August? Or when there's flowers... and then you harvest in Sept? Or later?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 4:09PM
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That's right, 12 inches is plenty. As for harvest, it depends on the variety of potato. Some are early, some late. Baby new potatoes can came even earlier than August. The straw makes it easy to dig down and find them.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Nancy Kessler

I'm growing Bintjies. If that changes the times at all?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:27PM
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That's a long-season potato.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:36PM
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I'm growing Red Norland, Yukon Gold, and Red Pontiac. Planted 5/13, already sprouting like Len does. Some of the plants are already 12" tall, others are more like 2". Mulched today. Wondering when to dig for new potatoes given the late planting? Mature potatoes in about 100 days with these varieties (and then a couple of weeks to cure?)?

Also, how many lbs to expect from each plant? I am growing for market, thought I'd take new potatoes as I dug them over the summer and might end up with a lot in the fall (after market ended) for family/friends/food pantry if the new potatoes didn't sell. But now I have someone interested in 30 "family-sized" orders, trying to figure out if best to do new potatoes or mature (they can wait as long as Nov), and how many lbs either way.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 6:38PM
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ajsmana -- Usually you can dig new potatoes once they have flowered, though I've been reading on here lately that sometimes potatoes don't flower. Then I suppose you can dig under and see if there are any, and "rob" the plants for your new potatoes. I've had the three varieties you planted give new potatoes in about 60 days. Remember, the new ones won't store -- only the ones left until later will have thick enough skins to be storage potaotes.

Yields are normally around 10 lbs. potatoes for each one lb. planted (avg.) Fedco says that anything lower than 6:1 means too much insect or weather pressure (low water, etc.) and yields of 20:1 are possible. You'll obviously get more potatoes (bigger ones) if you wait until fall, but of course the new ones sell for more, so not sure which ends up the best $ wise for market. THose are all great storage potatoes, espcially the YG (I still have some that are barely sprouting, harvested last Oct).

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:17AM
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You'll get fewer potatoes if you rob them early, not just smaller ones. That's another reason they cost more. They're worth it in my O.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:29AM
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