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mulching potatoes

 
Adam Buchler
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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For starters, I live in NJ. I did potatoes this year which i placed on top of well drained soil. I then covered each row of potatoes with compost and then leaves(plain old leaves that had been sitting in a pile all winter and slightly started to decompose). Now, my potatoes are about 8" above mulch, so I want to add more mulch. Considering the time of year I have grass clippings which are now about a week old and holding temps of about 150 degrees. Is there any reason I should not use these grass clippings? I imagine they will quickly lose temp once dispersed as mulch with some leaves mixed in. I could also just use more leaves from the leaf pile....let me know what your thoughts are.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5619
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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when we mowed with a bagger we used the fresh grass clippings on everything as mulch and never burned anything. I think they would be great on potatoes. If I had to choose I would take the green grass mulch over whole leaves. We mulch with leaves some but unless they have started to break down they make an impermeable layer...at least the oak that we have here does. I think your idea of mixing leaves and grass clippings sounds like a good one too. What kind of leaves are they?
 
Adam Buchler
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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All different kinds....I took leaves from all of my neighbors in the fall. My only concern with grass is that this is a very deep mulch I'm using for potatoes so I'm worried that the fresh grass with start to mat down and heat up and not let enough oxygen through to the soil. I actually just went out and mixed up a 50/50 ratio of leaves and grass and mulched another 6-8" around the first couple rows. I think this will work well. The pile of grass from last weeks lawn mowing was almost 160 degrees when I measured it this evening...it's a very small pile too.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5619
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
285
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I've never tried a deep mulch with grass clippings. We always put them on fresh out of a cart after mowing and probably no more than two maybe three inches at a time....or into the compost. They do heat up the compost nicely.
I think you've got the answer by mixing with leaves. This makes me miss our bagger. Mowing felt like 'harvesting' then.
 
Michael Vormwald
Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
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I'm in a similar boat....just behind you with a later start (covered with compost and leaves waiting for plants to emerge).

I think you're on the right track although the leaves alone, hay or wood chips might be safer ... just make sure your grass/leaf mix doesn't heat up so your potato plants become part of a compost process.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1424
Location: Central New Jersey
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Also in NJ and just mulched my potatoes today, mix of straw from last year and then leaves, again from last fall. The straw has enough structure still that I think it will prevent the leaves from matting, and neither has any nitrogen content to speak of so it should not heat up on me. Going forward I expect there will be some relatively fresh grass clippings going in there as well, but I think even then the mulch is going to drain well enough not to turn into a hot compost pile.

I am using a couple of cement reinforcing panels ( a bit smaller and quite a bit cheaper than cattle panels) as a container around my potatoes - which means real potential for it to be a compost bin if I get the mix the right kind of wrong. I am not really concerned, since my intentional compost pile where I was trying to get it to heat up never got with the program. Of course, this means I will be cooking my taters in record time
 
Michael Vormwald
Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
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So how's it looking so far Adam - Pics?

My Plants are just up and will soon need more mulch - I'm thinking more leaves and wood chips...or maybe hay if it gets here.
 
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