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Avonnow
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Location: Merritt Island, Florida

Potato question????

I am sure this has been talked about, but in the south when would be the best time to plant potatoes. I ask because the local Nursery and Feed stores have them there, and I am thinking - why would they sell them if I couldn't plant them now, here in FL. :shock: I bought some, but I am afraid to try in Dec. I have nothing to lose I guess, the gentleman at the feed store said he gets them in every year this time (Around turkey day was when I got them) and they go fast. Someone is planting them. Do you think it is to cold to put them in the ground? He did tell me the name but I forgot. I appreciate any thoughts, they were not alot of money, I just had no luck with them last spring when I did them, they seemed to grow well for awhile and then rot. I was going to try them in a raised bed. :)
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applestar
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Potatoes are supposed to be planted when the ground *warms* to 55°F. around here, that coincides with when the yellow Forsythias and Callery pears are in bloom. I know you had a few frosts, but didn't you mention that temps are going back up to 70's?

On the other hand, the timing is also shortly after whenI plant out the brassica transplants, onion sets, and sow carrots, so maybe now IS the right time for you. (Look for the thread on phenological signs in the Gardening Tips Forum)

Did you also see my thread on the fall planted potato experiment -- which I didn't get to do? Even if it's a bit ealy, you might be able to get away with mulching heavily. I believe unsprouted seed potatoes spoil if the ground temp is too cold (below 45°F I think), however. I'm doing a different experiment by planting some sprouted seed potatoes (little ones from my own harvest) in a 5 gal bucket, mulching, and wrapping the bucket in shipping foam and multiple layer cardboard boxes. It's staying in the garage, which has gone down to as low as 26°F but has remained around 34°F at the coldest in the bucket.

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Avonnow
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Florida potato

Maybe I will try both, some in the ground and some in containers like you are talking about. I have read articles on both and last spring I tried the large container with soil, then the potato cuttigs, then straw, every time they grew I added more straw, they did well at the beginning - but then they started to rot. We did not have heavy rain, so I am not sure why the rotting, did the container make them too hot, or did it keep them too moist, I am not sure, but was so disappointed after the beautiful start. That is why I wanted to try them in the ground. I will try to read that article, just read Joy of Gardening again and he does it under heavy mulch but said the crop is reduced. I thought maybe in the raised bed the soil would be warmer then in the ground. These are not spouted, do you think I should cut them and leave them out to spout, or just cut them and put them in the ground, or does it really matter? :)
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rainbowgardener
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You want the eyes to be sprouted. The process of exposing the potato to warmth and light so the eyes will sprout is called chitting (don't ask me why!).
Here's an article about it:

https://plantedathome.com/2009/03/09/chitting-potatoes/

After you do that and have sprouts, cut the potatoes into chunks that have a couple of sprouts per chunk and plant the chunks.
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TWC015
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Now is probably the time for you to plant potatoes. I'm supposed to plant them in February so late December sounds right to me for Florida.

I think the more important soil temperature for you is the maximum soil temperature when the potatoes are forming and the overall air temperature. Potatoes don't grow as well when the air and soil temperatures are quite warm. I recommend keeping a thick mulch around the plants so that the soil will stay cool and moist and to keep soil from splashing on the leaves so you decrease the risk for diseases.

I grew potatoes last spring, and they didn't do too well. I planted them a little late and they all got early blight. Only a few plants were large and old enough to grow acceptable potatoes. I don't think I will be growing them again this year. They get diseases too easily and it is hard to time the growing right here. If I plant in February, I will have to cover them when there is a frost, but if I plant in March, it will be too hot and humid and they won't do well.

garden5
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Another good way to find out when to plant certain things in your area is to call your local extension agency or check out their website. Oh, and if you have any local gardening clubs, they would be a good source of information as well.
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