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Tater planting time. What's your method?

 
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Has anyone tried putting potatoes on the ground and mounding them with straw? I have the use of an organic farm to grow vegetables but there are no garden beds prepared. This is the method that the landowner says he's had success with. He doesn't til the ground. It's just grass and some shrubby stuff, drop the potatoes on (not sure if whole or cut) and covers with straw. He says at the end of the season the soil is beautiful.
 
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My uncle told me he always did potatoes that way. He really liked it because they were perfectly clean at harvest time. I tried it on my lawn and didn't have much success, but I think if you removed the grass/sod first it would work fine. Mine may have struggled because they didn't get enough water that way.
 
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Jennifer Edwards wrote:Has anyone tried putting potatoes on the ground and mounding them with straw? I have the use of an organic farm to grow vegetables but there are no garden beds prepared. This is the method that the landowner says he's had success with. He doesn't til the ground. It's just grass and some shrubby stuff, drop the potatoes on (not sure if whole or cut) and covers with straw. He says at the end of the season the soil is beautiful.



I had a lot of small potatoes that way. Not very many large ones.
 
elle sagenev
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Karen Layne wrote:

Elle,
Cool experiment. Which would you do again, option #1 planting by putting potatoes on the soil and covering with straw, or option #3 planting potatoes in a berm? (Option #2: planting in stacked tires was shot down in round 1).



#1 for my main crop I believe. The problem with berms being that you then have to destroy your berm to get the potatoes out.
 
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My taters are flowering! Does that mean spuds are forming under there? When will it be safe to attempt to sneak a few new potatoes?

 
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tyler... what i ve learned is that you can harvest some taters after (or while? not sure) flowering, but will get the full harvest when the leaves dry out
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks!
 
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Hi all, happy Earth Day!

Tyler,
According to my Crockett's Victory Garden book, early varieties planted in April will start to get yellowing leaves in June. When all the leaves have yellowed and starts to wither and dry they are ready to be harvested. If you want to "steal" a few little potatoes before then, do so about 2 weeks after the blossoms appear.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Great!
 
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Last year I experimented with potatoes: plant only potato peel with some eyes, or with a piece of the potato, or whole potatoes ... what would be the difference? I found out there was no significant difference. So some potatoes were produced (it wasn't a large experiment), we ate most of them. The smallest ones of my potato-crop I kept (in a cool place) to plant this season. And so I did, now I see the small plants of my second-generation potatoes grow
We are not real 'potato-eaters', but growing them in your own garden makes them taste much better.
 
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Late to the party, but.

I save B potatoes (reds) that I get at the food pantry I volunteer at, that decided to sprout, and some russets too. The russets tend to be fairly small as well. I sprout them for 2-4 weeks whole, then flick off all but 3 on the strong end (best sprouts) and plant. I ended up with 15 pounds of seeds this way. I planted a bunch of different things last year and the best performers were my generic reds and russets. The seeds are golfball to tennis ball sized, and I plant whole. IF I plant cuts, they are still in the realm of golf balls and I leave them to air dry for a few days before they go in the ground.

Fingerings don't give me much of a yield, lots of little bits; and various colored ones didn't produce well. For one seed I get about 2-5# of production, closer to two usually. This year will also be container gardening and hopefully those will give me closer to five than two.

Mine are just showing, and in a few weeks I will start mulching. The plants grow UP through the soil or mulch making potatoes. I have yardcats that hunt, and they keep my vermin under control, and surprisingly the sowbugs/pill bugs were not in my potato mulch. If I leave a pot or container on the ground they are everywhere at the edge and just under that... and I didn't have slugs either. I'm counting all that good.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Last year I experimented with potatoes: plant only potato peel with some eyes, or with a piece of the potato, or whole potatoes ... what would be the difference? I found out there was no significant difference. So some potatoes were produced (it wasn't a large experiment), we ate most of them. The smallest ones of my potato-crop I kept (in a cool place) to plant this season. And so I did, now I see the small plants of my second-generation potatoes grow
We are not real 'potato-eaters', but growing them in your own garden makes them taste much better.



It's interesting that you found no real difference in the different methods you tried. It is great to have potatoes to generate next years crop, isn't it?


I totally agree. Anything grown in your own garden tastes better. I think that the longer it is from harvest to table , the taste is decreasing each minute it takes.

Deb Rebel wrote, " I sprout them for 2-4 weeks whole, then flick off all but 3 on the strong end (best sprouts) and plant."

Deb, I've never heard of this method of plucking eyes to produce stronger eyes (sprouts). I like this approach. Makes sense to me.
 
Deb Rebel
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Deb Rebel wrote:Deb Rebel wrote, " I sprout them for 2-4 weeks whole, then flick off all but 3 on the strong end (best sprouts) and plant."

Deb, I've never heard of this method of plucking eyes to produce stronger eyes (sprouts). I like this approach. Makes sense to me.



I've been doing it for years. Then I have a 'down' end and an 'up' end and it seems to make better and quicker emerging greenery on the potatoes. Also by presprouting I know what's ready to go and the few that are going to rot or go sideways, I can catch them during the pre-sprout phase.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Thanks Deb. I'm going to try to incorporate this idea into next years planting. I like it!
This year, they're all planted and are starting to show a little leaf growth, except where the raccoons dug
 
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I grow my food here in MA zone 7b. I always used to try to get my potatoes in around St. Patty's day but one year I was nearly a month late. I observed that it made no difference! The warmer it is the faster they grow, so now I don't worry or rush it. Same is true for snap peas. I buy seed potatoes because there is less chance of disease but if some bought for food sprout they get planted too. I try to pick the smallest potatoes with the most eyes, I don't cut them. I dig a hole roughly a shovel's length deep and press the potato into it but leave the top, with eyes facing up, sticking out. I check my garden every day or so and when I see leaf growth I push some dirt back into the hole to just barely bury it. I repeat this until the soil is level again. My plants are usually very large and bushy and I usually get 6 to 12 potatoes, sometimes more, from each plant depending on variety, I grow Red Norland, Russet, Yukon Gold, Superior, Russian Banana and red fingerling and this year I'm trying a bicolor fingerling. I too have volunteer potatoes, little ones I missed the previous year, coming up all the time so now I am experimenting with a permanent potato bed, I put any and all potatoes that overwinter in it and only dig them up when I have a really nice big plant show up. I always put the smallest ones back in. So far so good I have maintained this bed for 3 years now.
 
Todd Parr
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Am I the only one that plants the biggest potatoes and eats the smaller ones?
 
Deb Rebel
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Todd Parr wrote:Am I the only one that plants the biggest potatoes and eats the smaller ones?



I consider seeds about the size of a golf ball or a bit bigger. Anything bigger than that I eat. Anything a lot smaller is composted (we're talking roundish spuds here). That magical golf ball size is big enough to provide a good single whole seed, that sprouts well. If I don't get a potato eaten up around beginning to end of March and it starts sprouting, it becomes seed. I also plant in a few waves, so everything doesn't hit ready at the same time.
 
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Well, we got nuked the other night by frost....maybe 28 degrees F. Everything except the potatoes seems okay. I had covered the potatoes with tarps and was still somewhat surprised at the extent of the damage. The foliage was not that far along...anywhere from the 4 - 8 leaf stage. I've seen frost on potatoes before, but not this bad. Since they are young, will they grow out of it? Not all of the plants suffered as badly, which may or may not indicate some cold hardiness in those specific tuber clones. My inclination is to wait the next few weeks with some normal watering and with the knowledge that we are approaching the normal date for planting of Memorial Day weekend around the first of June. If this event has left major gaps in the rows, I will fill in with tubers still in the root cellar (reds, russets, yukon golds). Thoughts?
 
Deb Rebel
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John Weiland wrote:Well, we got nuked the other night by frost....maybe 28 degrees F. Everything except the potatoes seems okay. I had covered the potatoes with tarps and was still somewhat surprised at the extent of the damage. The foliage was not that far along...anywhere from the 4 - 8 leaf stage. I've seen frost on potatoes before, but not this bad. Since they are young, will they grow out of it? Not all of the plants suffered as badly, which may or may not indicate some cold hardiness in those specific tuber clones. My inclination is to wait the next few weeks with some normal watering and with the knowledge that we are approaching the normal date for planting of Memorial Day weekend around the first of June. If this event has left major gaps in the rows, I will fill in with tubers still in the root cellar (reds, russets, yukon golds). Thoughts?



Dig slightly with your finger and see what shape your seed tuber is in. If it's not black and mushy it should come back. Yes, give two weeks then replant if needed.

I have some barely up and some at 8" already, and have to do some replant after it gets through raining tomorrow. I had a few just not take to it despite being well eye-sprouted so time to give something else a chance.

I would give your patch a critical eye for was the worst damage centered in one spot or along one side? You could have a place where cold pooled or had additional issues (wind can make a difference). Sometimes changing the topography slightly or adding a bit of temporary windbreak during your most sensitive times is all it takes. Also if I have frost warnings lurking for that night, in the daytime I will make sure everything is watered. That seems to help. Lastly, some plants if their leaves touch the covering (especially plastic) they will frost die if the outside temperature reaches freezing or below. Not everyone likes plastic, but I save 1 gallon milk jugs and rinse them, and cut the bottoms off to use as seasonal cloches for small plants. On a cold night they will cap a young plant perfectly. If you are going to have a few days of colder ick, you can take the caps off during day and recap them in the hour before sunset or it dipping below freezing again, to help.

I have approximately 8-12 weeks of spring growing season interspersed with the occasional cold snap freeze and/or some snow that leaves within 24 hours. If you get a freeze in the low-mid teens you will lose the peach crop no matter what you do and it will affect everything else, but. Other things need helping along. (between early march and mid may, we will get 4-6 snaps). So, back to potatoes. Usually we plant out here around St. Patrick's day and have to help them through 3-4 snaps. I will cloche cap mine versus tarp cover. Or as for the strawberries, when I first plant a bed they get the cloche with the cap taken off during day... for 2-4 weeks to help them get settled in and growing... when the bed is established, I cover the whole thing with ancient blankets. And make sure I have them weighted so the wind won't remove them. Tarps I usually use only for hail protection or making windbreaks.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I think your plan is the same route I'd take. I've had ones in the past that did recover from frostburn but it may not have been as bad as what you now have. I had covered mine with plastic and where the plastic touched the leaves got burned. If your plants are still young, there could be other eyes whose sprouts have yet to surface.
There is a chance of frost here tonight. My plants are tall and just starting to bloom. There's no way to cover all I have in four different beds. Just crossing my fingers that they get the forecast wrong.
 
Deb Rebel
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Karen Layne wrote:I think your plan is the same route I'd take. I've had ones in the past that did recover from frostburn but it may not have been as bad as what you now have. I had covered mine with plastic and where the plastic touched the leaves got burned. If your plants are still young, there could be other eyes whose sprouts have yet to surface.
There is a chance of frost here tonight. My plants are tall and just starting to bloom. There's no way to cover all I have in four different beds. Just crossing my fingers that they get the forecast wrong.



Check your wind direction forecast for tonight and try covering the front ones in that direction if you can't cover them all. Those are the ones that will get the worst of the cold. They may help shelter the next ranks from the breeze at least.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I don't think a cold breeze would hurt as much as a frost, as long as the temp stays above freezing (and it should be upper 30s tonight). And if there is any breeze, it's my understanding, it's not possible to frost. It's been windy today but supposed to lay down over night.
It's 9:30 here, I think they're just going to have to tough it out tonight. Thanks for your suggestions.
 
Deb Rebel
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Karen Layne wrote:I don't think a cold breeze would hurt as much as a frost, as long as the temp stays above freezing (and it should be upper 30s tonight). And if there is any breeze, it's my understanding, it's not possible to frost. It's been windy today but supposed to lay down over night.
It's 9:30 here, I think they're just going to have to tough it out tonight. Thanks for your suggestions.



I've had it happen here several years ago. I had a canary in my garden patch and it was about 2:30 am and it tripped and computer started repeating "WARNING TEMPERATURE is forty degrees and falling." And I struggle into clothes and it was dropping a degree a minute... I had tomato plants I had been putting out over a week and had cages and steel fenceposts up and was out there with blankets, towels, teeshirts from the laundry and a flashlight in my teeth trying to yank all this stuff out and cover plants. The breeze was SSW and the six on that end frost/cold damaged-windscalded. I lost those plants. When I came in my husband said it had leveled at 34 for about five minutes then dropped about a degree every five minutes, and it was now 28f. I had about 8-10 mph wind as it froze. In this case it was a pocket of cold air that moved in, not the ground radiating away (still air). Hence I advise about watching where you get wind. It was NOT on the forecast and it was on the last night of our traditional 'frost date' day/spring frost season.

May they be wrong and may your potatoes be fine!
 
Tyler Ludens
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My taters got hailed on the other week, but I dug around and found little spuds forming anyway - I think I may get a crop!

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Funny how some of our worst frosts (and other events) are the ones you didn't hear about on the weather forecast. Sure makes it hard to garden sometimes. Takes a really dedicated / passionate gardener to be out at 2:30am protecting her little ones. Way to grow!
 
Deb Rebel
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Karen Layne wrote:Funny how some of our worst frosts (and other events) are the ones you didn't hear about on the weather forecast. Sure makes it hard to garden sometimes. Takes a really dedicated / passionate gardener to be out at 2:30am protecting her little ones. Way to grow!



At least now we have (if you are hooked into high tech) stuff at our disposal that we can look at the same data and make our own predictions. Learning your area weather patterns, typical seasons, etc, helps with how you grow, what you grow, and keep it going. I have ten years of self taken records for here so I have an idea now on when stuff usually happens and can plan accordingly. I've learned a lot about this microclime and can now grow and usually get results. This is my 50th year growing, my 7th growzone, my 4th at altitude, and it's a ride. I both passive grow (permaculture would cover a lot of that) as well as grow to extend season and get two to three crops during my growing season. Taters are something I'm dialing in for here, haven't grown them for about 25 years and started again about 5 years ago.

This year I will be depending on and am confident I will get a crop. Expecting 2-3 pounds a hill, I can taste them already. Still, hoping they're wrong and your crop is safe.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Tyler,
Yours were already blooming too, weren't they? That's sad. We had some hail last week but not like y'all. Feel for ya. Glad you may still have some forming.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Deb,
One word - WOW!
 
Deb Rebel
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Thanks, Karen.

It's a bigger challenge here to get a good potato crop than I thought, but. I figured out the varieties that work here, and how to handle them (what mulch etc) here as a ground planted crop. I will be running raised bed style tests this year too (not quite the tire pile-up growing), as well as the RGGS is going and some are going into feed tubs. 5 gallon pails you can get 2 pounds average, so I am hoping for three pounds for those.

I don't know if you can get true landrace potatoes, but some of the older Peruvian varieties may be close. We shall see this year. The flicking off extra eyesprouts and the size of a seed spud is something my grandparents taught me. They would grow a three acre garden, and put up everything to get through the winter. There summers were short and the days long, so 60 days was what you could count on, if you were lucky maybe 75 days. The soil was black and potatoes grew well...
 
John Weiland
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Thanks for these encouraging comments. At the end of the day, I watered the rather dry rows and then pushed any exposed potato tubers back underground. By doing so, I was able to tell that they were not soft and in fact many already had small green-leafed sprouts underneath the larger frost-killed mass of leaves. Fortunately, the stock in the root cellar is still in decent shape for use as planting stock if needed. Looking forward to seeing what might rebound from this. Definitely is was a combination of wind, cold, and plastic tarp laying on the leaves. At the row ends, I just placed buckets over the few plants that were exposed and they looked great....no frost damage at all. It's all the fault of those darn Canadians, sending their Alberta Clippers southward at the most inopportune times!
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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John,
Sounds like you're back in business. Glad you made it through. It ain't easy being a "parent" of sooo many babies.
Yeah, I'm not doing the plastic again. I think condensation builds up on the inside and then the temperature drops. I don't know.
We had frost all around us last night but somehow managed to escape it. Whew! I did move all of my tomatoes, eggplant and peppers inside...again.
 
Deb Rebel
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Glad you were okay, Karen. Gardening DOES keep you in shape. Hope your other stuff can stay out soon. This weekend all mine stay out for good.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Thanks Deb. I've been moving my table full of plants around for awhile now. Does count as exercise The tomatoes are big enough to plant into the garden but the eggplant and peppers are still too little - I'd be scared. Think I'm going to wait a bit further past last frost date. This weekend supposed to be rainy, maybe next.
Hope you'll have great luck with yours
IMG_20160516_143148431_HDR.jpg
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Tomatoes, eggplant and peppers
 
Deb Rebel
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Very nice babies you have there. You are doing hardening off?
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Hardening off, yes. And when they finally get planted they're going to be stout. I've forgotten about them a few times and so they've had wind, cold, hot, pouring rain... Oops.
 
Deb Rebel
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Karen Layne wrote:Hardening off, yes. And when they finally get planted they're going to be stout. I've forgotten about them a few times and so they've had wind, cold, hot, pouring rain... Oops.



Remember when you plant the tomatoes to take off the bottom few leaves and plant them DEEP so they make more roots. The better the root system they make the better they can produce. Peppers really like your nights to be over 50 to be happy...

Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers.... salsa and some really good stew to be had at your place this fall...heh.
 
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Tomatoes,I trim off bottom leaves and plant them in a trench. All covered but the few top inches. Got 63 tomato plants ready to go and I think it was about 36 in the cold frame/seedbed. Running low on last years cocktail juice. Tastes like V8. Good stuff!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Some of my potato plants have died down, so I dug up the tiny potatoes. Any idea why they died so early, with a lot of little taters? We had a hailstorm and a few hot days. Could that have told them it was time to quit? Some of the other plants are still growing.

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Deb Rebel
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@ Tyler Ludens,

Quite possible, the plants thought the season was done or the shock of the hail damage then the hot days did them in. I would not propagate those particular plants again, so eat the tubers. The ones that are still going, save seed spuds from those.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Could it be that the hail knocked off the blooms and that signaled to the plant that it's time to dry up now? Just guessing here.
 
Of course, I found a very beautiful couch. Definitely. And this tiny ad:
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https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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