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Avonnow
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Potato question

I planted some potatoes, and I wish I new what they were, got them at the feed store and I am such a chatter box, I never asked or look at the sign to see what I was buying. Anyhow I planted them about 1 month ago. I am using info I got in my "Joy of Gardening" Book by Dick Raymond. I dug a trench, put some fertilizer in it, then covered with dirt, then put a little phosphurus and more dirt, then the seed potato that was powdered with sulfur. Then I covered them. Well they look great, and are growing like crazy. My question, he says when they get about 6 inches tall to cover them or mound dirt around them, then when they grow another 6 inches, put more mounded dirt around them. My problem is I don't have a lot of dirt sitting around, show I buy potting soil, top soil, or take compost and mound it around these plants? Does it matter, I was afaid to use compost. Any sugestions. Should I cover the plant entirely? :D
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We used to buy well-rotted sawdust to mound around our potatoes. We got it at the same place where we bought stuff like mulches and topsoil. Using sawdust makes it very easy to dig the potatoes, and they come out of the ground pretty clean. That makes it easy to prepare them for storage. :)
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applestar
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Avonnow, I'm just going to remind you of this thread (Imagine my surprise when I went to look for one of my Potato Silo/Tower post refs and found you there already! :lol:):
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=147497#147497
:wink:

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Much simpler and a lot less expensive: rotary till the sides of the row then use a rake to make a bank. I've never seen a reason to do a second hilling but my first one probably 4" tall in the middle of the row. You can use mulch, straw, almost anything. The goal is to prevent the spuds that will form from seeing the light of day. It turns them green and not good to eat.

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Avonnow
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Straw

So do you think I should use straw or a mulch of sorts ( I have a bail in the garage- my husband would love to see it gone) - I did the straw in a bucket last year and lets just say "not successful". Will the straw attract mice or rats? I am getting that I don't have to mound this too high, just cover them so no light gets to them. Hey they look a heck of alot better then the last batch, so Maybe I will do some with soil and some with straw to see. How tall will the tops get, I looked at APPLESTAR thread and they look like they get pretty top heavy - how do you know when they are producing will they get flowers on them up top. I can't believe how hearty they look.
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That Dick Raymond book is a good one, and was the first gardening book that I ever read. :D
His Potato growing advice is sound.
I differ from Dick's advice, in that I would not roto-till as often as he does (actually, I don't roto-till my garden at all any more). Also, I would not use 10-10-10 and other chemical fertilizers.
But, that's me... everyone is entitled to take their own approach.

Dick is right about hilling the potatoes. If you don't have soil available, you can even use straw/hay to pile up around the plants. Or, mix straw with garden soil, to make the soil "go farther".

One note: it's prudent to avoid adding a lot of "high nitrogen" material (manure, etc...) to the potato patch, as that can foster problems with potato scab.

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Avonnow
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Potato and Dick Raymond

I love his book, it is very simple to read. A good friend gave it to me when I started gardening. I have read it over and over, each time learning something else. I realize though many things are dated in it. I did use a organic fertilizer and Garden tone phosphurus. I used the sulfer as some previous ones I planted - rotted. I hope this works. So I think I will use the straw as I have it on hand and I hate to buy more then I need. With potatos do you ever side dress them, or should I avoid it because of the scab thing? Also again do they get flowers and is that a indicator that potatos are forming? :)
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Yes, I believe all potatoes flower. Two weeks or so after bloom you can snoop around and harvest "new" potatoes. New potatoes, ( baby ) and peas in cream sauce. Yum! Don't be to greedy it will lower your overall yield considerably.

My Yukon Gold,
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Flowers/Potato004-1.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Vegetable%20Garden%20plants/Potato002.jpg[/img]

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jal_ut
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As has been said, you hill them up a bit to keep the developing spuds from seeing daylight. Soil or mulch will work. Your straw should be fine.

Yes, potatoes will bloom, and when they bloom they will be starting to make tubers. How tall the plants get will depend on the variety and soil fertility. Two feet tall can easily happen.

Scab in potatoes is worse if the soil is on the alkaline side. A soil ph of 5.2 will be pretty free of scab. I think that is the thinking behind the sulphur. Sulphur makes the soil more acidic.

"Should I cover the plant entirely?"

I never cover the plant. I add 2 or 3 inches of soil mounded up around the plant. I only do this one time. I want to keep the tubers in the dark, and the leaves exposed to the sun to manufacture food for making tubers. Yes, I do cover some of the lower leaves. hard to avoid that, but I will not cover the whole plant. I know there are different schools of thought on this, but I am just telling you what works for me.
Last edited by jal_ut on Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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DoubleDogFarm
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unless she is talking about dusting the cut tuber before planting.


Eric

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jal_ut
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What do you think Eric, is dusting the cut tuber with sulphur a scab preventative? I have never used sulphur at all in my garden for any reason.
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Jal,

That's a good question, I have never used sulfur either. It was something my farther did. He would dab the cut surface into sulfur powder.

I just cut the potatoes and plant them in the ground. I don't even give them time to callus over.

I will be trying the coffee grounds idea in my potato beds this year. I'm hoping it will help with wire worm and rodents.

Eric

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jal_ut
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[img]https://donce.lofthouse.com/jamaica/hilling_potatoes.jpg[/img]

Hilling potatoes using the Troybilt with hiller/furrower attachment.
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wordwiz
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jal_ut wrote:[img]https://donce.lofthouse.com/jamaica/hilling_potatoes.jpg[/img]

Hilling potatoes using the Troybilt with hiller/furrower attachment.
Cheater! How wide are your rows? Mine are less than 3' between each one.

Mike

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Avonnow
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Happy for news

The sulfur was to prevent rotting, I did have this problem last year - it actually may be better now because it is cooler. But I used sulfur because of the rotting it was recommended in that book. I will do as you all say, use straw and not cover entire plant. I will take photos as it goes to see what happens. Thanks
Sherry
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jal_ut
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[img]https://donce.lofthouse.com/jamaica/potato7_4_2010.jpg[/img]

Two rows of potatoes. I plant about 10-12 inches apart. These haven't bloomed yet.

[img]https://donce.lofthouse.com/jamaica/potato_1.jpg[/img]

Here is what we are hoping for..............

Eric, I too just cut them and plant them. No treatment, no waiting. I know some recommend these other procedures.
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Well, mystery solved. I have never known why everyone says to cover potatoes as they grow. I couldn't figure out why the green parts of the plant would be covered. OH ! It's covering the POTATOES !
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Some potatoes do not bloom - I've never seen a flower on a Kennebek. Yukon - I've seen small tomatoes or potatoes form on the plant!

This past year, my tomato crop was a complete and total failure. What did not rotten during the monsoon we had in late May/early June, died in the summer drought of July and August. Thankfully, I canned a bunch in 2009 - still eating them. Home fries, French Fries, mashed, in soups. The only thing they are not good for is baked potatoes, though I suspect if I had jars large enough to hold whole spuds, they would turn out great baked.

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Jal, good looking spuds. :shock:

I now know three people that own older Troybilt tillers. I have one in my shop for repairs. This is the second one I have worked on.

[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DSC03114.jpg[/img]

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So far in my limited experience and experimentations, straw alone dries out faster. I have found combination of layers of hay, dry leaves, straw, pine needles, compost, and some garden soil to work well. I also add sand.

I sometimes actually layer, sometimes gather material in bucket or wheelbarrow and shovel them around the plants without bothering to mix them. Oh, and don't forget any weeds you pulled. Putting them on top of the pile is a great way to let them dry out, cover with additional mulch/soil/compost after they're wilted and they'll add nutrients.

For my garden with clay underneath and sheet mulched, wormcasting-rich soil, soil alone results in heavy mucky mess that is hard to dig through for potatoes. So mostly mulch seems to work really well.

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jal_ut
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OH ! It's covering the POTATOES !
LOL Deborah. Yep, the spuds form just under the surface, and as they grow they will push upwards, easier than pushing downwards, so they often expose themselves to sunlight, which causes them to turn green. The Green portion is toxic and tastes awful.
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OK, so the material doesn't matter. it doesn't have to be rich soil because its not actually going to the roots, correct? so as long as your soil that the roots are in are good then whatever you mound with doesn't matter much? am I reading this correctly?

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OK, so the material doesn't matter. it doesn't have to be rich soil because its not actually going to the roots, correct? so as long as your soil that the roots are in are good then whatever you mound with doesn't matter much? am I reading this correctly?
Not exactly. I believe all potatoes produce new potatoes above the seed tuber. Some varieties like fingerlings root and produce along the stem. So hilling up may give you a larger harvest.

[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/potatoplant.gif[/img]

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Would mulching with pine straw be a good idea? I know they like soils with a lower ph and the pine needles would bring that down. This will be my first time planting potatoes and I have plenty of pine needles around my place.

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Anything is a good idea as long as it keeps the sunlight off of the potatoes. 8)

They like maxin' and relaxin' in the shade. :P
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Yes, what Jeff said.

Also the pine straw probably will not change the Ph much, sitting on the surface.

Eric

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When you get the pine straw, be sure to also scrape up some of the soil BENEATH the pine needles. THAT'S the bonus you want -- composted pine needles. :wink:

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Avonnow
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Covering potato plants

Well I took a combination of the info I was given and I mixed some compost, straw and soil together and put it around the plants. I am excited. I have to say they look so healthy, I think maybe last time, it was just too hot and the wrong method for Florida folk. Thanks so much.
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farmerlon
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jal_ut wrote:...
Hilling potatoes using the Troybilt with hiller/furrower attachment.
Nice photo ... that could have been a picture in Dick Raymond's book; he uses the same technique for hilling potatoes and corn. :D

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farmerlon
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Re: Potato and Dick Raymond

Avonnow wrote:... With potatos do you ever side dress them, or should I avoid it because of the scab thing? ...
If you are planting in a decent garden soil to start with, I don't think any side-dressing is needed. I never side-dress my potato plants, and I always seem to have a nice crop.

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farmerlon
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jal_ut wrote:...
"Should I cover the plant entirely?"

I never cover the plant. I add 2 or 3 inches of soil mounded up around the plant. I only do this one time. .
If I may, let me add one exception to that.
If you have potato plants coming up in the Spring, and a "late frost" threatens ... you can cover the entire (small) plant with soil. That protects the plant from the frost, and it will grow right back through the soil within a day or two.

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farmerlon
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Re: Covering potato plants

Avonnow wrote:Well I took a combination of the info I was given and I mixed some compost, straw and soil together and put it around the plants. ....
That sounds perfect... nice job ! :D

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jal_ut
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Cheater! How wide are your rows? Mine are less than 3' between each one.
Mike, my rows are 32 inches apart. That works well for using the tiller to both hill potatoes, and cultivate and remove weeds. I only use the hiller attachment on the potatoes. I run the tiller between all the rows one time when the plants are still small. Then it leaves only a little hoeing to get the garden pretty weed free. If I couldn't use the tiller like that, I would be cutting the garden way down to about 100 sq feet. :)
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