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Growing Potatoes and Wheat

 
Thomas Partridge
Posts: 130
Location: Zone 7a
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So we did not have very good luck with our potato bins this year. I am not sure if it was the poor first year soil or if it was something I did, but I have decided that until I can build up my soil that the potatoes will go in the raised bed and with my raised bed rotation the only spot they could go is with the wheat. Will that work out well or should I look into another option? Their root systems should be compatible and judging by the wheat we grew this year I don't think they would compete for light, but what about nutrients? This is my current planned rotation (4 rotations over 2 years) for raised beds:

Spring:Wheat (and Potatoes if not a problem)
Fall: Peas and Daikons
Spring: Random Annuals (generally three or more species per bed)
Fall: Compost

Additional Info: I already have corn, beans, and cucurbits covered elsewhere so I would prefer to avoid using them in my raised beds. I also understand that perennials are the way to go and I do utilize them elsewhere, but I like rotating raised beds for certain things. And before it is suggested, I hate hugels - not sure why I just do.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 1978
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I'm curious about what you are calling fist year soil, is this soil that was from a fallow area or something else? Most likely what happened to the bin potatoes was more soil compaction. You could use straw in the soil to promote more airspace within the soil and that would also create a humus rich soil as time goes on.

If you plant potatoes with wheat you will most likely have an issue with the need to hill the potatoes, since you really don't want the tubers exposed to the open air, this causes green potatoes and we all should know those can be a real issue for health.

The wheat plant puts down very deep roots when it can this is not an issue with growing potatoes as a companion planting. The hilling needs of the potato plant would be an issue for the wheat plants since dirt going up their stalks can cause stalk rot along with other issues.
 
Thomas Partridge
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Location: Zone 7a
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Thank you for replying!

I made a lasagna with a layer of clay, a layer of straw, a layer of clay, ect until it was about 8 inches high in the box and planted the seed potatoes in it. Not sure if it was still too compacted or not but I think going vertically with clay soil will probably always compact it unless the soil has been loosed quite a bit over time. Regardless though I am trying to get away from just planting one of something by itself. When I find a need to plant something new I have started asking myself "what can I plant this with to maximize space and/or yield?"

As for needing to hill the potatoes - is there a reason I would need to do this? The raised beds that they would share with the wheat are about 6-8 inches deep (or will be at planting). I do agree if I needed to hill the potatoes it would definitely ruin my theory (and cause me to retreat back to the drawing board) but if I didn't (i.e. not hilling would just reduce the potato yield significantly) it might still be viable. Especially considering that it would be a total of 250 square feet of potatoes and wheat for two people.
 
mary jayne richmond
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HI Thomas, we plant a lot of potatoes every year, and if we let the weeds ( read grass) get to bad.. i've seen the roots grow right through the potato, so that may be an issue with your wheat, unless you do a row of wheat and a row of potatoes that would work fine.
 
Thomas Partridge
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Hello Mary,

That doesn't sound good - I didn't think about about roots growing through the potatoes. I wonder if wheat roots are as determined as their wild cousin's?

I am trying to visualize right now a way to stack wheat and potatoes while at the same time keeping them separate - perhaps something like this?

WWW
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Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 1978
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
151
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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sunlight hitting the growing potatoes will turn them green, this is a bad thing since green potatoes are actually poisonous, as the plants grow, you mound dirt up the stalk of the potato plant which then will put out more potatoes to eat, so hilling is recommended and even necessary for a bountiful crop.

" It sounds like a joke, or perhaps just an urban legend that grew out of Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham.” But food scientists say this one is no myth. The reality is that green potatoes contain high levels of a toxin, solanine, which can cause nausea, headaches and neurological problems.

Potatoes naturally produce small amounts of solanine as a defense against insects, but the levels increase with prolonged exposure to light and warm temperatures.

The green color is actually caused by high levels of chlorophyll, which by itself is harmless. But it is also a sign that levels of solanine, which is produced at the same time as chlorophyll, have increased as well.

According to a recent report by Alexander Pavlista, a professor of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, a 100-pound person would have to eat about 16 ounces of a fully green potato to get sick. That is the weight of a large baked potato.

The report noted that most green potatoes never reach the market. Still, to avoid the development of solanine, it is best to store potatoes in cool, dimly lit areas, and to cut away green areas before eating.

Another good rule: if it tastes bitter, don’t eat it. Unlike Dr. Seuss’s entree, this green meal would not have a happy ending. "


I have a neighbor that uses potato bins to grow (we do too but we use potting soil since we make our own) he uses straw to fill up his bins as the stalks grow taller, then he just waters the straw with a liquid fertilizer he creates with compost tea and some sea minerals. This method seems to work just fine, and the only dirt he has is at the very bottom of his bins for starting the seed potatoes.

I think a better planting plan would be a row of wheat a row of potatoes a row of wheat. another method that works well would be to plant 4' squares instead of actual rows. This would allow you to grow a lot of wheat and the potatoes.

We have one garden area that is done up in 6' x 4' raised beds. and between our orchard trees we use 4' x 4' raised beds. This gives us the ability to do things that normal row gardening would make harder to achieve.
 
Thomas Partridge
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Location: Zone 7a
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I hadn't even thought of needing to hill them up when I posed the question initially but now I am researching it. Another issue is that the planting schedule is off - I am pretty sure that spring wheat needs to be planted before potatoes, but I could be wrong.

So I am back to the drawing board on potatoes, I don't want to grow them by themselves but they did not want to fit into the only slot I had available in my raised beds for them. I guess like the asparagus they want to be a problem child and get special treatment. The plus side is that we get a bunch of straw as a bi-product of our well protection so it is almost like I am getting it for free (since I would have bought it anyway).

Thanks everyone for your help with this, now off to find something to grow with the wheat so it isn't lonely.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 1978
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Thomas Partridge wrote:I hadn't even thought of needing to hill them up when I posed the question initially but now I am researching it. Another issue is that the planting schedule is off - I am pretty sure that spring wheat needs to be planted before potatoes, but I could be wrong.

So I am back to the drawing board on potatoes, I don't want to grow them by themselves but they did not want to fit into the only slot I had available in my raised beds for them. I guess like the asparagus they want to be a problem child and get special treatment. The plus side is that we get a bunch of straw as a bi-product of our well protection so it is almost like I am getting it for free (since I would have bought it anyway).

Thanks everyone for your help with this, now off to find something to grow with the wheat so it isn't lonely.


spring wheat is planted around the same time you would plant your seed potatoes (some areas the wheat would go in the ground earlier, around the end of December- January)

wheat grows well with other grains I grow wheat along with two row malting barley and cereal rye. In Arkansas all of these plants get up around 3-4 feet tall. I grow my grain sorghum separately since it grows taller than the other grains.
I have not tried corn as a companion because it would shade out the wheat/barley and rye.

Wheat is called winter or spring because of the time of year it is planted not harvested. All wheat is harvested around August here in Arkansas.
 
Thomas Partridge
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The issue with using another grain is that we don't use any other grains. We only use the wheat to make flour so instead of scrapping the wheat/potato plan I might just see if I can talk my wife into trying another grain to make flour with that would work better with potatoes. Perhaps Amaranth since that would probably be ok with the potatoes being hilled.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 1978
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
151
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Sweet potatoes do not need hilling, they send out runners and where the runner grows roots, a tuber will form. We have sweets in tubs and as the runners reach outside to the ground we "plant" the stem by placing some soil over the stem. This gives us many sweet potatoes in the fall when we harvest, then we harden them off over three or four weeks before storing them for the winter months.

For long term storage all potatoes need to be cured so they will last as long as possible. I am in the process of building our root/ storm cellar, it will be huge by most standards since it will be doing triple duty as a root cellar, a storm shelter and a cheese aging cellar because of these multiple uses I actually have to have doors to separate rooms in this cellar so I don't get contamination of any of the produce/ products I plan to have there. I initially had it planned to be 12 x 10 and now it seems I will have to dig out for another 4-5 by 6 fromage room.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 1978
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
151
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Thomas Partridge wrote:The issue with using another grain is that we don't use any other grains. We only use the wheat to make flour so instead of scrapping the wheat/potato plan I might just see if I can talk my wife into trying another grain to make flour with that would work better with potatoes. Perhaps Amaranth since that would probably be ok with the potatoes being hilled.


You could grow the wheat in 4'x4' squares and seed so the plants are only about 2" apart (intensive planting) then you could intersperse squares of potatoes with the wheat squares, that would give you more production per square foot of ground and allow you to properly hill the potatoes with out harming the wheat.

I have taken to growing emmer and einkorn wheats which have less gluten production than the modern wheats (most of the newest wheat varieties are GMO and I refuse to grow them) I grow the 2 row barley and rye for fermenting.
 
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