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Permanent Polycultural Potato Patch

 
Posts: 947
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Has anybody on here experimented with one of these? What all plants did you include?

This seems like an excellent opportunity to dump a ton of root yields into a single space that is going to be dug into for harvesting every year.

I'm thinking we *might* want to keep Sunchokes out due to the sheer size of their foliage, but it might be possible to chop and drop that once during the growing season [probably early may for me] without having an excessively negative impact on the yields.
 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I have some perennial sweet potatoes, but they're struggling with my heavy clay. I haven't harvested any yet, so I don't know how they did. I suspect tubers will be small and few, as the vines didn't get very large last year. They were growing in a bed which had spring greens, then tomatoes, and then winter greens. When I clear this bed I'll see if there are any tubers there.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 947
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Sweet Potatoes don't die off in Zone 8? Or do they die off and then grow the next year from the tubers the way that actual Potatoes do?
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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They die back but then sprout from the tubers the next year. I have some that are a few years old.

 
Posts: 520
Location: Northern Germany (Zone 8a)
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i dont think that this is a very good idea. as far as i know, they ll take up a lot of nutrients from the soil. so i would not put them all in one place.

what about mixing with plants which do not take up much nutrients (greens?) or with plants which accumulate nitrogen and/or minerals? and having some good chop and drop plants nearby, but not too close?

last year i had two rows of potatoes next to each other. this year i ll try to spread them into several places ... i ll see how that works out

i d like to try sweet potatoes, but they wont grow very big in our climate. sunchokes go very well. i think, they re best for areas which one does not plan to use otherwise. they re good to plant and then leave them alone. i remember feeding them to rabbits.

would sunchokes be strong enough to grow runner beans up them?
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 947
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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That's why I'm working on a polycultural patch. The idea is to have a diverse swath of subteranean foods which take and return different nutrients.

No clue for sure if it will work, that's why it's an experiment.

On the subject of N-Fixing, Apios Americana [Groundnut] is a Legume that makes tubers and would fit right into this patch.

 
Tobias Ber
Posts: 520
Location: Northern Germany (Zone 8a)
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sweet potatoes grow vines. would they grow vertical against some stalks? that would help use the space.

edit: they grow somehwat well in moderate climate but will develop smaller tubers than in wamer climates.
but it might make sense. over here they cost like 10 times more than normal potatoes (when they re in season and you by a 10kg sack).

i m not sure how much sweet potatoes you would get per sqare foot. more than normal potatoes?
 
Posts: 52
Location: Yonkers, NY/ Berkshires, MA USA
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Careful with sunchokes...I wouldn't plant them unless I was okay with them taking over a place after a few years and staying forever. But then, I don't have pigs.
 
pollinator
Posts: 774
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Kyrt... did you try this polyculture with tubers out?   What happened?   Since I'm just north of you in Federal Way, I'm really curious.  Also, if spuds are left from eya to year, there is the bugaboo of disease getting a foothold... ?  Thx : )
 
gardener
Posts: 6050
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Kurt, how did the experiment go last year?

A polyculture that grows potatoes is quite doable with several different mixes, if you didn't have great success do let me know and I'll share some thoughts and what works for us.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
Posts: 1559
Location: Denver, CO
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I've got a similar planned project in this thread over here; https://permies.com/t/64667/permanent-tuber-based-agriculture, and so I'm interested in any ideas for tuber polycultures, especially ones that have been already tried on the ground.
 
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