nickolas
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my new no-dig potato bed.

Greeting’s and salutation’s to all my gardening friend's out there.

A few weeks ago I started a new NO DIG potato bed that uses straw instead of dirt to grow the potatoes in.

What I did is I selected an area that was overgrow with grass and weeds and covered all the grass/weeds with a few layers of cardboard, I then gave the layer of cardboard a spray of water, I then proceeded to space the potatoes 1.5 feet apart on top of the cardboard, with that done I covered the potatoes with 12 inches of straw then, then I whet the whole lot down with a last spray of water.

And now 3 weeks later I have potato shoots coming out of the straw, when I see this I just put more straw around each potato shoot until weeks later when the potato shoots go yellow the potatoes are ready for you to uncover them.

Please don’t hesitate to Let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter and what I have said about it.


befor
[img]https://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l546/Nickolas28/quarantine018.jpg[/img]


in progress
[img]https://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l546/Nickolas28/quarantine019.jpg[/img]

I will keep you all up to date with more pics and result's when i get them.

Nickolas

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If you have good results, I'll be trying this in the spring.


Seed potato will have trouble rooting through the cardboard.

Where will the plants get their nutrients. I think all the grass below will lock up nutrients. Do you think the straw will supply all that is required or will you be adding some compost?

Eric

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DoubleDogFarm wrote:If you have good results, I'll be trying this in the spring.


Seed potato will have trouble rooting through the cardboard.

Where will the plants get their nutrients. I think all the grass below will lock up nutrients. Do you think the straw will supply all that is required or will you be adding some compost?

Eric
I don't want the potato roots to go through the cardboard, i want the roots to stay in the straw for ease of harvesting, and if the potatoes need nutrients then i can suply them with some of my homemade organic liquid fertiliser.

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I'm talking about the true roots. https://potatoplantpress.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/potato-plant2.jpg
I like the idea of the tubers on the surface. Make sure no sun light gets to them.

Comfrey tea is my suggestion and maybe some complete organic fertilizer.

Eric

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DoubleDogFarm wrote: Comfrey tea is my suggestion and maybe some complete organic fertilizer.

Eric
i make and use comfrey tea as well as compost tea, nettel tea, manure tea and worm juice(or worm wee).

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That should work fine. I would also consider some saw dust or even leaves along with the straw since the potatoes may need some other nutrients! River or lake sand will also work with the straw and is cheap! I have cut weeds and put the weeds on top of themself and put potatoes on top of the dried weeds and covered with leaves and had success. I think the cardboard is great and will kill everything under it so next year you may have a even better place for growing other crops! If I have a new area for a garden I first plant potatoes in the area and cover with leaves so the next year the soil is very loamy for other crops!
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Here's a cool video of someone growing potatoes this way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1OShZZUt0k

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here are a few pics i took today of 1 of my 2 potatoe beds(sorry about the top one being a bit fuzzy, it was raining very heavily at the time i took the pics(look at the clouds :D i love rain).

[img]https://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l546/Nickolas28/quarantine106.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l546/Nickolas28/quarantine108.jpg[/img]

nickolas
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ruggr10 wrote:Here's a cool video of someone growing potatoes this way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1OShZZUt0k
Thank you for the link to that very good video, i have never seen that episode of Gardening Australia before, i use to watch every episode of Gardening Australia untill peter cundall(the man in the video) left 2 years ago, now i never watch Gardening Australia because it is all about ornamental plants and ornamental garden's and never about productive plants and productive gardens.

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Great looking bed.

I found that video when trying to figure out how to grow potatoes myself. My ground is tough to till so this is great. I'd like to see more of his videos. He also helped me show my wife I wasn't crazy when I told her how I was going to grow them this upcoming spring.

nickolas
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ruggr10 wrote:Great looking bed.

I found that video when trying to figure out how to grow potatoes myself. My ground is tough to till so this is great. I'd like to see more of his videos. He also helped me show my wife I wasn't crazy when I told her how I was going to grow them this upcoming spring.
If you would like to see more of his videos just search for Gardening Australia/peter cundall videos on the net. Peter Cundall is VERY famous in Australia for his vast Knowledge on productive gardening . I have a lot of respect for Mr. Cundall, for it was he who made me get interested in productive gardening in the first place.

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This all looks marvelous ! I hope to have raised beds someday.
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nickolas wrote:
ruggr10 wrote:Here's a cool video of someone growing potatoes this way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1OShZZUt0k
That was a way good video! Much more visually telling. I'm going to go "all out" and do a huge section of potatoes that way this year. The only thing I think I'll change is that he didn't divide his potatoes, and I think I will.

Any thoughts on whether this would work just as well for sweet potatoes????
Jeff

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nickolas
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GardenRN wrote: That was a way good video! Much more visually telling. I'm going to go "all out" and do a huge section of potatoes that way this year. The only thing I think I'll change is that he didn't divide his potatoes, and I think I will.

Any thoughts on whether this would work just as well for sweet potatoes????
i have done two 20 foot by 9 foot potatoe beds this year. i don't see any reason why it wont work for sweet potatoes.

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Well it's just that sweet potatoes seem to be such a different plant. First off you usually plant slips, a lot different from planting seed potato sections. But maybe you could leave the slips on the cubes of sweet potato IDK. I tried doing a little searching on it but didn't find anything in my 15 minutes of looking on youtube. Sweet potatoes are also much more vine-like than regular potatoes. I suppose if the nutrients is there, they will grow. We shall see. I'm sure I'll try some this year. It's just going to limit how many starts I can get from one sweet potato. Last year I got about 20 slips from 1 potato by continuously pulling them off and rooting them in water before planting. This year, if I am planting the sweet potatoes like regular potatoes I can only count on about 3-5 vines from one potato. hmmmm.
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Nickolas,

How about a update on your potato patch? I like to see this work.

I'm thinking Wine Cap mushrooms mixed in with the straw.

Eric

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DoubleDogFarm wrote:Nickolas,

How about a update on your potato patch? I like to see this work.

I'm thinking Wine Cap mushrooms mixed in with the straw.

Eric
all is looking good so far, there is over 50 healthy potato plants so far.

here are a few picss.

[img]https://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l546/Nickolas28/quarantine002.jpg[/img]


(sorry this pic is on its side)
[img]https://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l546/Nickolas28/quarantine003.jpg[/img]

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Can't wait to see what your harvest looks like! I was already psyched about trying the potatoes this way this spring thanks to this thread and the video posted back on the 1st page. Glad to see it actually working :)

I wonder if your plants will be done by the time it's time for me to plant (mid~late march)....you think? I'm really anxious to see how many actualy tubers you get. The guy in the video planted 24 potatoes (undivided seed potatoes mind you) and he looked like he had solid wheelbarrow full of potatoes!
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nickolas
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GardenRN wrote:Can't wait to see what your harvest looks like! I was already psyched about trying the potatoes this way this spring thanks to this thread and the video posted back on the 1st page. Glad to see it actually working :)

I wonder if your plants will be done by the time it's time for me to plant (mid~late march)....you think? I'm really anxious to see how many actualy tubers you get. The guy in the video planted 24 potatoes (undivided seed potatoes mind you) and he looked like he had solid wheelbarrow full of potatoes!
It is still early days yet, i uncovered the straw and had a good look around today at a few of the bigger potato plants before i covered them up again, and there are a lot of small potatoes starting off the mane seed potatoes that i planted, which is a good sign(i think :lol: ).

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Here we are, another 3 weeks Nickolas. Anything new to report?

Eric

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I appreciate that people remember to ask for updates. I love seeing them, but never remember to ask. 8)
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DoubleDogFarm wrote:Here we are, another 3 weeks Nickolas. Anything new to report?

Eric

Hi Eric, the potato plants in my number 2 potato bed are doing very well(I am expecting to get a good size harvest from this bed at about late-march to mid-April) but the potato plants in my number 1 potato bed are not doing so well, both potato beds get the same amount of everything but I think(as I am living at a rental place) that someone mite have applied some strong chemical herbicide in the area of my number 1 potato bed at some not to distant stage before we got here, or maybe they did the exact opposite and applied some chemical fertiliser that is good for leafy crops like grass but bad for root crops like potato's.

As of 6-days ago I am now applying twice the amount of Homemade Organic Liquid Fertiliser(H.O.L.F) to my number 1 potato bed and since then it is looking a lot better(but still not as good as my number 2 potato bed).

And finally I would like to say that YES you were right! the potato plants cannot get all the nutrients they need from the straw, they need them applied to them in means like H.O.L.F and or compost otherwise I do not think you will get a crop at all(unless unlike me you have good top soil underneath the potato bed of straw).

I use 65-liters+ (17.17-gallons+) of my H.O.L.F every week Between my two 9ft by 20ft potato beds, my 6.5ft by 7ft corn bed and my 4ft by 20ft tomato/capsicum/eggplant and basil bed.
Now if I was buying my H.O.L.F for the same price I sell It for at farmers markets(I.e. $10 for a 2-liter bottle) then I would be paying $325 for my 65-liters of H.O.L.F every week, but instead i (spend a bit of time and effort and make it and ) get it all for free and use it on my garden and what I don’t use I sell at top price to smiling fools at the farmers markets :wink: .

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I'm getting really close to starting my potato bed. One question. In the no dig method I seem to see a lot of people putting the whole seed potato down without cutting it into sections. Why? And should I follow that same practice?
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I prefer to cut the up which gives more plants! What most people forget to do is after you cut them let them set for a few hours so the white flesh dries off where its cut so it does not rot as easy! Even a fan blowing on the cut potatoes will dry them!Cut the potato so you have a few eyes on each piece. You can cut a nice size potato into 3 or even 4 pieces!
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I partially agree with Bobberman. I cut most of my seed potatoes to a few eyes per piece. I don't let them dry, "callus" nor dip them in sulfur, I just plant them.

Eric

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I figured it was the rot. You can also dust the cut sides with sulfur to prevent rot. When I am just letting them callus naturally, I try to leave them for a minimum 24 hours, usually more like 2 or three days.

Didn't know if there was more of a reason not to cut in a no-dig method. Do hey not need to be cut because there is more room?
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From earlier posting on potatoes. Sounds like the more eyes you leave on the seed, the more stems you have. The more stems may give you more potatoes, but a lower total yield. Many small potatoes, instead of a few nice large potatoes.

See jal_ut, some of us are listening. :wink:

Eric
Last edited by DoubleDogFarm on Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Good point DD about smaller ones! Drying the cuts may ot be as important with the straw method since they stay dry longer. If the soil is very damp I would dry the cuts with a fan for a hour!
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Try a test?

I am interested to see how this turns out. Please keep us updated.

If I may make a suggestion, next time you try this omit the cardboard on half the bed and just place your sets on the bare ground. The reason I say this is because I feel you have seriously handicapped the plants by not letting them have access to the ground underneath. Straw can never be as good a growing medium as good ol top soil! That wonderful, thin and precious covering of the earth that has taken eons to develop. Not even with you adding "nutrients".

The only way to tell though is to do the test.
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Re: Try a test?

jal_ut wrote:I am interested to see how this turns out. Please keep us updated.

If I may make a suggestion, next time you try this omit the cardboard on half the bed and just place your sets on the bare ground. The reason I say this is because I feel you have seriously handicapped the plants by not letting them have access to the ground underneath. Straw can never be as good a growing medium as good ol top soil! That wonderful, thin and precious covering of the earth that has taken eons to develop. Not even with you adding "nutrients".

The only way to tell though is to do the test.
Thanks. I was going to do something like that next potato season anyway but sadly I do not have any top soil, I have to make all my soil as it is all rock hard clay and with lots of large rocks in my area. All of the top soil has been washed away or been over cropped by local farmers.

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jal_ut & nickolas
We have been doing this for years with no cardboard, although we tried cardboard many years ago & found it didn't help.
This is a no-till technique that is low effort and SUPER EASY TO HARVEST.
We plant rye in the fall. Broadcast technique. We never cut this rye, it strangles any weeds out.
In April separate(push aside/apart) the rye and set whole and cut potatoes on top of the ground, between rye grass stems & cover with thin coat of leaves.
Late May early June the potatoes are up(ankle high) and rye is knee high, take the rye from one side of the potato row and bend(crack stems at ground level) the rye over the potato plants(this rye will brown and act like the straw technique).
July 4 the potatoes are getting big and the rye(other side of plants) is browning out, (At this point walking through the rye field is ....cumbersome But my big feet can handle the job :lol: , you can always cut the walkpath and use the rye for compost)
we bend that rye(from other side of potato plants) over the potatoes being careful not to break potato plants.
Early September the potatoes will be dying off and ready for harvest.
The potatoes will be right on top of the ground for easy harvest. We never use a shovel or hoe in this process.
Anytime during the season we see potatoes uncovered, we add a few leaves to stop green taters from emerging. :wink:

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Thanks. I was going to do something like that next potato season anyway but sadly I do not have any top soil, I have to make all my soil as it is all rock hard clay and with lots of large rocks in my area. All of the top soil has been washed away or been over cropped by local farmers.
Where you have your bed this year, what soil or clay there is will be improved for growing as the cardboard and straw decomposes. I find it amazing what a great ability roots have to penetrate even hard soils. Keep adding organic matter to the plot and it will get better with time.

I know clay is a tough soil type, but clay has lots of minerals that the plants need. If you can loosen it up with copious amounts of organic matter it will grow things. Sand is good to mix with clay and probably not too expensive. Mortar sand, like brick layers use, is pretty fine. Order up a dump truck full.

Really nice loamy soils are a mix of clay, silt, sand, organic matter, chemicals, air, water, and a host of small living organisms. Sounds like your ground has some of these requirements. It will get better as you work with it and add to it.

2cents, Interesting technique. Thanks for sharing.
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2cents, that sounds really interesting. Something to think about this fall....

I thought I posted in this thread already... If this hasn't been suggested yet, it works to cut a cross or a flap in the cardboard and nestle the cut seed potato on the ground underneath. This way, the potatoes' true roots will grow into the ground but the tubers that grow above the seed potatoes will stay above the cardboard.

Similar method to suppress the weeds works for sweet potatoes but I would prep the ground at least a month ahead of time and build a raised/lasagna-type bed above the cardboard. The sweet potatoes will want to grow into the soil past the cardboard. If the cardboard is sufficiently broken down or there are overlaps that they can take advantage of, they will happily make tubers underneath the cardboard.

FWIW I've noticed that if I don't break up the hardpan clay subsoil, the sweet potatoes will skim the boundary where the topsoil and clay layers meet and go on and on looking for water and nutrients.... I posted a photo of a loooong tuber root I followed one year.

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jal_ut wrote:I know clay is a tough soil type, but clay has lots of minerals that the plants need. If you can loosen it up with copious amounts of organic matter it will grow things. Sand is good to mix with clay and probably not too expensive. Mortar sand, like brick layers use, is pretty fine. Order up a dump truck full.
Woe be it for me to argue with this man, ............however. Wouldn't you want to use a more coarse sand to mix with the clay? This is the advice I have always gotten when working with this hard Va clay. The thought being that the clay is actually made up of VERY fine material already, it doesn't need more. A more coarse material creates air pockets and such, whereas the finer any material is, the closer the particles can get to one another.

For example, think about how well water could flow through a pile of rocks, vs a pile of sand.
Jeff

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nickolas
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Here is an update for you all,
Dew to the fact that I planted the seed potatoes over a whole month later in mid November than when I should have planted them in early-October the potatoes will not be ready in march but rather mid-late April, but everything is looking tiptop so far and I have already harvested a few big ones yesterday to last me through until the rest are ready in another month.

Next season I will make a few changes and give it another try and see if I can get even better results than what I am expecting from this seasons crop. Next season I will also be giving 2cents method a try, bye the way what type of ryegrass do you use 2cents? Is it an annual ryegrass type or a perennial type? I know that you are not in my local area but where do you get your ryegrass seed from and how much do you pay for them?

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Woe be it for me to argue with this man, ............however. Wouldn't you want to use a more coarse sand to mix with the clay?
Perhaps, however consider that clay particles are 0.002 mm in size or less.

Silts are from 0.002 up to 0.063 mm.

Sand particles are from 0.063 up to 2 mm.

Even the finest sand particle is 31 times the size of clay particles.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut wrote:
Woe be it for me to argue with this man, ............however. Wouldn't you want to use a more coarse sand to mix with the clay?
Perhaps, however consider that clay particles are 0.002 mm in size or less.

Silts are from 0.002 up to 0.063 mm.

Sand particles are from 0.063 up to 2 mm.

Even the finest sand particle is 31 times the size of clay particles.
Which is why I figured there was some aspect I was missing even as I was typing it. :wink: Makes sense to me!
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nickolas
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sorry that im a bit late guys, i harvested my potatoes last week. out of the two 9ft by 20ft beds i got 40 kg of potatoes, i planted 2 varieties but one of the varieties failed altogether, so lets say i started out with 5kg of potatoes and i harvested 40kg. as this was my first time growing potatoes i do not know if this was a good size harvest or a week harvest.

half of them are too small to eat so i think i will save them for seed come next season but the other half are all good size's to eat. very little sun damage i.e. green potatoes but there were a few that had been spoiled by slaters (less than 0.05 percent).

thats it for now i think, BTW i will upload some pics in a few days. but untill then my your hands stay dirty from your soil.

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hi guys, i know its taken me a while to upload these pics but my camera has been in the shop.

this is all of my 40kg harvest that i got from mt two 9ft-20ft potato beds
[img]https://i1327.photobucket.com/albums/u665/Evergreen-Organics/30042012318_zpsb52ed86b.jpg[/img]

this is the 2 different types of potato that i grew, the white one is the only nicola that i got beck and the pink one is desiree.
[img]https://i1327.photobucket.com/albums/u665/Evergreen-Organics/30042012320_zpsbed7d739.jpg[/img]

nickolas
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I am growing the potatoes a little differently this yearat my new place.
[img]https://i1327.photobucket.com/albums/u665/Evergreen-Organics/potatobed_zpse17eb145.jpg[/img]

the carbon mix is made from 3 part shredded straw, 3 part shredded autumn leaves, 3 part shredded cardboard, 2 parts sawdust, 1 part powdered charcoal.

And i know i said it was a no-dig potato bed but i have dug three shallow 2-3 inch trenches to give the potato true roots a chance to brake up the hard clay pan. if i didnt have a hard clay pan i probably wouldnt have dug the trenches.



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