Killy
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Mulching potatoes

Have I let my potato plants get too tall before covering with soil (not sure what the technical term is). They are about 12in tall. Also, do I need to cover the plants completely or can I leave some of the plants uncovered above the top of the soil.

gumbo2176
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Re: Mulching potatoes

I've grown potatoes in a tier of tires a few times and I'd let the greenery get about as high as yours before applying more soil around the plant and I'd leave about 2-3 inches showing when done.

The tire tier method works like this. Put one tire on it's side on a cleared patch of ground, fill that tire with soil, plant your slips and let them grow, when they are about 1 ft. high, place another tire on top of the first and fill in around the plant. I repeat this process 3 times for a 3 tire tier. When time to harvest, simply knock over the tires and dig out the potatoes.

PaulF
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Re: Mulching potatoes

There are several different variations of the tire tier, from just plain dirt hilled up to trash cans with added mulch or dirt. All of them work. I used to dig a trench, put straw or hay in the bottom, put the potato in the trench and fill with straw or mulch and keep adding until harvest. No digging, just sift through the straw to get potatoes.

Cover your plants with whatever you are using...mulch and soil may do best for you...like gumbo says: leave a couple inches of plant each time you cover. You should be OK.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Mulching potatoes

Right now is fine to hill them up. Personally I would leave more than "a couple inches" of plant showing. The leaves are where the plant gets energy to grow potatoes. If it has only a few leaves left, it will slow down production.

You didn't say if you are growing them in the ground or in a container. In the ground, you really don't need to do very much hilling up, because your potato roots and tubers can spread out under ground. In a container with only vertical space, you have to do more, but still leave it plenty of leaves and just add soil a little at a time.
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Gary350
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Re: Mulching potatoes

Here in TN my best crop of potatoes has always been grown in a stack of car tires. Put 1 tire in the garden then fill it with soil. Place the cut seed potatoes with 1 or 2 eyes on the surface to get correct spacing, 1 plant in the center and about 5 or 6 plants in a circle. Then bury the seed potatoes cuttings just under the soil surface. In a few weeks plants will be 8" tall. Put 1 more tire on the stack and put in about 3" of soil. The top tire acts like a holding pond for water.

When I lived in IL we use to put the seed potatoes cutting on the garden surface then cover them over with soil in a 50 foot row, they did very well but that method does not work in TN we get too much rain the soil is mud all spring seed potatoes rot in the soil. Without using car tires a hill of soil will keep the seed potatoes out of the mud.

I think TN is too hot for most potatoes. Red potatoes grow very well here but we don't like the red potatoes. White potatoes grow ok in TN but not as good as they do in IL. I have not found a white potato variety that grows well in 100 degree weather. It does not get 100 every summer last year it was 98 and 99 for 2 months and 102 for 1 day. A few years ago we had 2 weeks of 107 and a few days of 109 but that is very rare.
Last edited by Gary350 on Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

gumbo2176
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Re: Mulching potatoes

Like Gary350 mentioned, we get so much rain here in S.E. Louisiana that the tire method is what works best for me the few times I've planted potatoes. Just this week we had so much rain I could only see faint traces of the row tops in my garden. Good thing almost all of it is now pulled and just sitting idle waiting to plant my fall/winter stuff.

bri80
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Re: Mulching potatoes

Killy wrote:Have I let my potato plants get too tall before covering with soil (not sure what the technical term is). They are about 12in tall. Also, do I need to cover the plants completely or can I leave some of the plants uncovered above the top of the soil.
Most people call it "hilling" the potatoes but I don't think I'd call that a "technical" term. :)

12" is a great time to hill them up for the first time. And definitely do NOT cover the entire plant! You want to leave plenty of leaves above ground so they keep growing (I never cover more than 50% of the above ground vine). Ideally you hill them 3-5 times before they flower, then stop hilling, wait for the vines to die back, then dig up your potatoes!

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