Harvey Moon
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 6:15 am
Location: Anglesey

Soil + Potatoes

Hello to everyone, I think I got lost somwhere as I thought this was a UK Forum, ah well never mind maybe you guy's can help me whilst I am here.
My garden is an old landfill site for stone waste only and has roughly 18'' of soil laid on top of it, the quality of the soil isent that good with a lot of clay, I was wondering if mixing Coarse Sand and Manuer would loosen it enough to grow Potatoes and maybe other Veggies. :?:

Also this year I was late purchasing my seed potatoes and had to buy a large sack I have planted some in a raised bed as I did last year and the year before and have no problems with them but with the seed that I have left, is it possible to store them and plant at a later date, they are called Sharpe Express and are a early variety. :?:

any help would be extreamly appreciated thank you.

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Well Harvey you have come to the right place, we have a tonne of threads on ammending poor soil, use the insite search engine to read up.

For now, I'll say that sand will help a bit but, what really improves both clay and sand based soils is adding organic matter. Manure is considered organic matter but, in composting soils is considered a "GREEN" which means that it has a Carbon : Nitrogen ratio of about 30:1 or less.

What you want is a balanced addition of greens and "Browns" a brown is something with a higher amount of Carbon like leaves, newspaper (black and white articles only).

I personally like to add leaves as apposed to newspaper but, do sometime lay a few sheets thick pile of newspaper over weeds that I have already mowed over (and left the clipping on the ground) and then add a green followed by a layer of leaves and so on.

Vary your layers of greens to browns (Manure, seaweed, cotton seed meal, Kelp meal, grass clippings, kitchen wastes (excluding any meat products), and so on for greens. Maple leaves, apple leaves, Linden tree leaves, newspaper, Birch and so on for Browns). Always finish with a green like manure then, you can plant directly ontop of that.

What I just described is called sheet composting this will slowly increase the quality of your soil year after year. I generally do this each fall and also collect extra piles of leaves (usually a pile of maple leaves and a mixed pile) for composting a mulching in the summer.

In the summer, spring and early fall you can also dig trenches and layer up the greens and browns again and then refill with soil. This is called Trench composting and aids in the speed of your soil improvment.

This seems like a lot of work but, I don't find to be. It's actually fun to be out collecting all of the free or really cheap soil amendments and then layer them up. It's really neat to come back to the garden in the spring and see this lovely new topsoil.

Good luck and be sure to read the other threads on soil improvment.


One note that I will make is that clay soil takes a bit longer than sand based soil to improve because the clay particles for soil aggregates with the added organic matter that are more recalcitrant than aggregates formed with sand particles.

Hortoholic
Full Member
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:49 pm
Location: NH - Zone4

You have it right, manure or compost plus sand is optimum to help break up and create drainage in your clay soil.

Have your soil Ph tested, spuds are not fond of high Ph......

Good Luck :D

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Thanks Hortoholic! Yes, you can pick up soil test kits at local nurseries. Also, here in Canada we have stores called buckerfields that also sell them.

Incidentally, a pH above 7 means that the soil is basic (high pH), a pH of 7 means that the soil is neutral, and a pH below 7 means that the soil is acidic.


Also, try growing some heirloom potatoes like the all red, all blue and all purple varieties. They add a splash of colour to your palate.

pixelphoto
Senior Member
Posts: 155
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:13 am
Location: Middle Georgia USA

you could try growing your potatoes above ground easier to harvest that way until you can create some better soil.
I use several methods.
1. lay down a area of newspaper place seed potatoes on it cover with compost and straw. thats it they will grow and i continue to add more compost and straw use a garden fork to get your potatoes when ready.
2. cardboard boxes I use large cardboard boxes and put potatoes and compost in them and grow them this way the cardboard breaks down over time and is safe for the environment and gets composted at the end of the year.

hugh
Full Member
Posts: 43
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2005 10:01 pm
Location: Boucherville, Quebec, Canada

Sharps Express is a classic early potato – and very nice it is. Two problems, it is quite a low yield per square meter, so next year you might want to plant a ‘second early’ or main crop with a higher yield. The second problem is that it can get warts disease – funny marks on the skin. Don’t worry they just look funny, that is all. After you’ve peeled them, who cares what the skins look like.

By the way you do know not to use fresh manure. You put it aside for say six months in a nice smelly pile and let the rain get to it, to wash away the acid in it. Now you get a lot of rain in Anglesey, so that’s not a problem.

On the subject of storing the excess seed potatoes – sorry no. You will get sack full of soggy mess. Compost them.

By the way if you plant potatoes on the same ground you are taking a risk of potato blight. Try to move them to a different spot in the garden each year. That’s what caused the Irish Potato famine. Don’t worry if you have planted them in the same spot, you can always emmigrate to America if the get the blight!

Harvey Moon
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 6:15 am
Location: Anglesey

Thanks a lot for the advice it was very healpfull... :D

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