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Tater planting time. What's your method?

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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The weather has been a little unpredictable lately and I'm a bit behind on getting my potatoes in. Seems there's many different beliefs on the best planting method. So far I've only cut them in pieces, each containing 1-2 eyes. I'll dry the cut surfaces a little in the sun then plant them. I don't use a fungicide. Some people use whole potatoes, some use only the skins with eyes. I leave a little of the potato but only a little (had boiled seed potato remains for dinner) but some people think leaving big chunks of potato with the skin and eye(s) helps to feed the plant. I think that when the insides of the potatoes start to rot, the eyes rot too and won't produce a shoot (therefore the less potato meat, the less rotten mass). What method do you find most productive?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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One year, my daddy asked for some space in my garden to plant potatoes. So I told him he could have the next row over from my planting... We used the same potatoes from the same bucket. I cut my pieces small. He cut his huge. His plants grew faster, bigger, and stronger. His harvested tubers were larger and there were more of them. Perhaps there were metaphysical things going on... For example, I didn't sing to my potatoes. Perhaps he did...

On planting day, I cut the potatoes and immediately plant them. Here's a video I made of the process:
Planting Potatoes With A Tube Seeder
 
Burra Maluca
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Thanks for sharing that, Joseph. I've embedded it below.

 
Tyler Ludens
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I bought a bag of organic fingerling potatoes at the grocery store* and planted them whole. I put them on the surface of a bed and covered each with a pile of good soil. I planted them a little early so I wanted them to be as warm as possible. I also planted some salad seeds at the same time. When I harvest those I'll add some wood chips or something to the bed around each potato plant. The potatoes seem to be doing quite well.

* less than half the price of organic seed potatoes
 
Casie Becker
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I did the same thing with fingerling potatoes this year. I'm experimenting with how little work I can get away with. I didn't have anywhere left where it was reasonable to rotate the potatoes. I dug a trench and dropped the potatoes into the unprepared soil in early Feb. I didn't even weed. A row of healthy plants came up, but right now they're recovering from the unusually cold nights last week. I'll dig soil to cover them from where I will eventually extend another path. As the weather warms up I'll plant sweet potatoes in the other side. I'm really

Hopefully by the time the potatoes are ready to harvest I will have finished digging out the whole trench so it will be prepared for lining with a waterproof membrane. (recycled pool liners) Then we'll fill it with wood chips. We've already done this to good effect with another section of the bed. We end up with a modified raised wicking beds lining a path which can absorb more than 500 gallons of water at a time. (tested by emptying a full cistern for cleaning)
 
R Scott
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Never buy smaller than a 50 pound bag. Same price as 5 pounds in the small bags, and better quality. I plant then whole, saving back the largest ones and eating them if I run out of bed space our cutting them if I run short.
 
Casie Becker
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I don't know about Tyler, but I went with the bag of organic fingerings because it contained five varieties. Hopefully they all do well, but otherwise I've just found a cheap way to test several different varieties. Best case scenario they all do well, produce seeds, and then I can experiment with planting potatoes from seed.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yep, that was the great thing about that bag of taters - there were a bunch of kinds, plus cheap!

Looking at my growing potatoes, I see they are outgrowing the salad I planted between them, and could use some hilling up or mulch piled around them soon, so I'll be harvesting that salad as babies. Note to self: Don't plant anything with the potatoes next time.

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Thanks guys! Love to hear about different ways of going about it. I planted some today and will continue curing some others. Some i cut small, some i cut larger and some i left whole. We've got near freezing night time temps for several upcoming nights, so everything will be at a stand- still for a little while. A good experiment though to control a couple of variables. We'll see how it goes.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Karen Layne wrote:Seems there's many different beliefs on the best planting method. So far I've only cut them in pieces, each containing 1-2 eyes. I'll dry the cut surfaces a little in the sun then plant them. I don't use a fungicide. Some people use whole potatoes, some use only the skins with eyes. I leave a little of the potato but only a little (had boiled seed potato remains for dinner) but some people think leaving big chunks of potato with the skin and eye(s) helps to feed the plant. I think that when the insides of the potatoes start to rot, the eyes rot too and won't produce a shoot (therefore the less potato meat, the less rotten mass). What method do you find most productive?

During WWII occupation in France, the Germans were often confiscating any food they could find for their troops. My parents would peel the few potatoes they could get, making thick peelings and saving the eyes with them. They would then plant them in their basement. They could still get "new" potatoes the size of marbles, but that was not a good way to maximize the crop: Those potatoes had never seen the sun. Sandy soil is better than heavy soil. Cut chunks making sure you have at least 2 eyes with each piece [for insurance]. Dry the cut, especially if you have heavier soil. If your soil is not very good, raise them in a barrel, like a half Whiskey barrel with decent soil. Put a heavy hay mulch. The additional advantage with that is that the weeding and the digging will be easy. Potato bugs can be taken out before they do too much damage. Of course, you won't get as much as if you could hundreds of seeds in the fields, but the yield per seed will be much better.
 
Todd Parr
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I plant the whole potato, wasteful as that may be. I dig a hole to the bottom of my foot-of-woodchips plot, throw the whole potato in and bury it again.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Todd Parr wrote:I plant the whole potato, wasteful as that may be. I dig a hole to the bottom of my foot-of-woodchips plot, throw the whole potato in and bury it again.

That should work too. Taters are easy going.
Last year, I raised some sweet Asian potatoes. (not a potato at all. Rather an ipomomea vine in the yam family I think. Yum! Tasted like chestnuts. I'm raising slips again this year. I'll keep the vine off the ground this time: it was hard harvesting last year because of all the re-attachments / layerings of the vine. I'm also hoping to keep them longer in the ground for larger tubers, but they did OK. Not quite as large as the "commercial" crop, but it was my first time. If you look at the USDA detailed "growing zone" you will find that in the center of the state, there is a spot that says "zone 3". all around, we have zone 4, and not very far at all, even zone 5 to the south east. [Well, we are the only ones in zone 3, lucky us!].
 
Todd Parr
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:
Todd Parr wrote:I plant the whole potato, wasteful as that may be. I dig a hole to the bottom of my foot-of-woodchips plot, throw the whole potato in and bury it again.

That should work too. Taters are easy going.
Last year, I raised some sweet Asian potatoes. (not a potato at all. Rather an ipomomea vine in the yam family I think. Yum! Tasted like chestnuts. I'm raising slips again this year. I'll keep the vine off the ground this time: it was hard harvesting last year because of all the re-attachments / layerings of the vine. I'm also hoping to keep them longer in the ground for larger tubers, but they did OK. Not quite as large as the "commercial" crop, but it was my first time. If you look at the USDA detailed "growing zone" you will find that in the center of the state, there is a spot that says "zone 3". all around, we have zone 4, and not very far at all, even zone 5 to the south east. [Well, we are the only ones in zone 3, lucky us!].


I'm in Tomah, about an inch from you
 
Matthew Nistico
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Please forgive me for shamelessly plugging two older threads I started years ago concerning alternate methods of growing potatoes and/or sweet potatoes:

http://permies.com/t/12066/plants/dig-potatoes#113224
http://permies.com/t/13535/plants/Sweet-potatoes-left-ground#121413

Just in case anyone finds the content interesting or relevant and/or wants to revive those threads : )
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Matthew Nistico wrote:Please forgive me for shamelessly plugging two older threads I started years ago concerning alternate methods of growing potatoes and/or sweet potatoes:

http://permies.com/t/12066/plants/dig-potatoes#113224
http://permies.com/t/13535/plants/Sweet-potatoes-left-ground#121413

Just in case anyone finds the content interesting or relevant and/or wants to revive those threads : )


Here, in potato country, (Central WI), chemical farmers can get a crop of white potatoes. The ground is otherwise infested with nematodes and the late blight virus. I can rarely grow a full crop of tomatoes or potatoes, both in the solanum family. I've had better luck with the Asian sweet potatoes I grew last summer, even though the season is awfully short for them.

The only way I would consider planting potatoes here is in a tub, a bag, with some other non-native soil, unfortunately. If I were to grow white potatoes, I'm afraid I'd have to spray the crap out of them just to get a few good ones. We also have potato beetles. They all run away from the chemical fields and come in my garden since I don't use chemicals. The Dawn dishwashing liquid can only do so much when the infection is so severe. The pear trees I have planted have all succumbed to fire blight too. The fire blight is probably not the same infestation, but it kills my pear trees in the summer all the same.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I've tried a number of different methods, but I always plant when the dandelions flower in non-micro-climate locations. I get some dandelions that flower early in great locations but it's not until they are blossoming on open ground with frost exposure that I plant spuds. Last year the method was hay mulch with a handful of soil in with the mulch every three weeks or so. 1.)I planted whole red norland seed potatoes with tiny eyes, with great results. These were large red spuds, and each yielded well. 2.) The second crop was from my Aunt and Uncle's seed spuds. They gave me a cardboard box with some blue potatoes and some yellow fingerlings, both were severely dehydrated and had eyes up to a 16 inches long! (some people remove these long eyes, but I think that is VERY counter intuitive ad counter productive). These spuds were planted in raised beds that had not been tilled. The mulch was removed in the middle of the bed, the ground was split open with a spade into a central trench, the potato put in the trench and the trench pushed back into place and the mulch returned. They were watered heavily at this time, and not again, but the mulch (about six inches of loose hay) was added and a handful of soil a few times. The crop was amazing, and by weight the dehydrated ones with shoots produced the most volume. Unfortunately the whole crop had extensive vole damage as they thrived in the hay mulch.

In the past I have had good success with cutting the potato and also with cutting it and drying it. I always ensure at least two eyes on the potato piece.

Also I try to move my potato rows so that they are not in the same area for at least 3 years. I have heard of some people giving a rotational gap of 7 years, following traditions from the Andes, and may do this on my own land now that I have so much space.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Matthew Nistico wrote:Please forgive me for shamelessly plugging two older threads I started years ago concerning alternate methods of growing potatoes and/or sweet potatoes:

http://permies.com/t/12066/plants/dig-potatoes#113224
http://permies.com/t/13535/plants/Sweet-potatoes-left-ground#121413

Just in case anyone finds the content interesting or relevant and/or wants to revive those threads : )



Matthew, Thank you for bringing those threads back. There's really good information there. And it's fun to see familiar names from older posts.
Seems like potatoes can be successfully grown in a number of ways. I have had two instances though where my effort was a complete flop. I tried growing them in corn fodder one time...big mess. Smelled like ammonia. And I once tried growing them in a wire cage lined with black landscape fabric and adding more soil as they grew. Heard you could have potatoes all the way up to the top. Didn't have any above the first foot.
Still have most of my cut potatoes curing on the table. The weather has been cold ( frosts and freeze warnings), now rainy and another below freezing night forecasted for Sat. night. Back to tater planting next week.
 
Tobias Ber
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concerning nematodes: i just read that marigolds (tagetes) will kill them. their rotts have stuff that attracts nematodes. but when the plant gets touched by them it switches over to produces stuff that kills them.

i m planning to put a few here and there in our garden. they re easy to grow from seed or to raise as starts and plants. it s easy to harves large amounts of seed.


taters: i think, it s best to use the biggest potatoes as seeds. this year i will try without hilling much, but cover with woodchips.
in one bed i ll tryplanting them closer together and maybe harvest them a bit smaller

i want some small for taters soon to roast them in the fire and to make some potato salad. cook them with skin on, peel em, cut em into chunks. slightly fry some onions. blend onions with sour cucumber. add vinegar, oil, sea-salt and spices... let soak for some time.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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My grandfather used to plant a long row of marigolds at the edge of his garden. I plant them everywhere, in between the garden veggies and in many of my flower beds. I love how they seem to glow at dusk. Last year i didn't plant any because there were a million volunteers. I don't remember where I read it, but somewhere I read that marigolds will keep away many of the beneficial bugs too. I hope not.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I have a tater question: What is the optimum amount of hilling up or adding of mulch around the growing plants? I just added between 4 inches and 6 inches of mulch to my little tater bed. Lots of foliage is still exposed. Should I add more mulch? Should I wait for the plants to grow to add more? Should I leave it alone until harvest time?

(plant on the corner is parsley)

tatermulch.jpg
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Shawn Harper
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Potatoes are weeds in my garden. They pop up everywhere because I compost all potatoes that get too old or peels. If I want to introduce a new type I just plant a whole tuber in a hugelbed or a compost pile. My piles are never big enough to get hot, so they are just feral worm farms. They don't smell so I don't really care. I guess thats one good thing about my climate.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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What is the optimum amount of hilling up or adding of mulch around the growing plants?
I can't remember exactly, but I think that Steve Solomon recommended leaving a minimum of 4 inches (or up to six inches) of plant leaves and stalks exposed when mounding, and then leaving the plants to grow up a few weeks and then repeating.
 
Tyler Ludens
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So just hill up twice?

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Yeah I think so. Sometimes I hill a third time, but I'm not sure if it does anything but waste my energy. After the potatoes flower, there is apparently not much more new growth going on, and the spuds just expand in size.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks, that is super helpful!
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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From an earlier post: I once tried growing them in a wire cage lined with black landscape fabric and adding more soil as they grew. Heard you could have potatoes all the way up to the top. Didn't have any above the first foot.

I had heard that if you leave just a little foliage exposed that they would keep producing all the way up. Maybe someone else has had successful with this method. Has anyone had a basket of potatoes from top to bottom?
 
Roberto pokachinni
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This Wiki How site recommends a few more moundings per season, but mounding after the plant reaches 8 inches, and then leaving only 2 inches exposed, and mounding again after the plant has grown 4 to 6 inches. That seems excessive to me.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I guess my question is: Do they grow additional tuber-producing roots along the stem as you hill them? If not, additional hillings seem redundant.
 
Ron Helwig
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I guess my question is: Do they grow additional tuber-producing roots along the stem as you hill them? If not, additional hillings seem redundant.


From what I've read (but not yet tested) potatoes can be determinate or indeterminate. One kind will grow more tuber roots and the other won't. A quick search found this article, which seems helpful: https://abundantminigardens.com/choosing-and-planting-potatoes/

So it looks like if you want to do a tower or hilling to get more potatoes, you need to choose an indeterminate variety.
 
Nikki Thompson
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Brandon and I are doing ours with a mounding/box method. Start with the frame, build up the soil layers, water and add potatoes. When they sprout taller than the sides, add 4 more boards around the bottom and mound it. Keep repeating the cycle until you're ready to harvest. We already have a bunch! When you're done harvesting, you have great fertile soil to start a new bed with!
IMG_3826.JPG
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Tater Box
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Tater Box and Ducks
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Tater Box Sprouts!
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Tyler - Your garden looks lovely, well groomed. Taters coming in nicely.

Ron - Thanks for that link. I now know why my potatoes didn't produce past the first foot. I had used determinate varieties. And it makes sense to not be too quick in hilling up because the photosynthesis in the leaves needs sun exposure to take place.

Nikki - Way to grow! Like the setup.
 
Todd Parr
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A group in Minnesota is doing a test on several hundred kinds of potatoes to determine if some continue producing all the way up the bag. The name of the group currently escapes me.
 
Nikki Thompson
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Karen Layne wrote:Tyler - Your garden looks lovely, well groomed. Taters coming in nicely.

Ron - Thanks for that link. I now know why my potatoes didn't produce past the first foot. I had used determinate varieties. And it makes sense to not be too quick in hilling up because the photosynthesis in the leaves needs sun exposure to take place.

Nikki - Way to grow! Like the setup.


Thanks! Here's an updated one as of yesterday. I hope yours g(r)oes well!
IMG_4237.JPG
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Brandon Added Boards
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Brandon Mounding with Aged Grass Clippings
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Almost Done Mounding
 
Matthew Nistico
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Ron Helwig wrote:From what I've read (but not yet tested) potatoes can be determinate or indeterminate. One kind will grow more tuber roots and the other won't. A quick search found this article, which seems helpful: https://abundantminigardens.com/choosing-and-planting-potatoes/

So it looks like if you want to do a tower or hilling to get more potatoes, you need to choose an indeterminate variety.


Ron, thanks so much for posting that link! Some really useful info at that site.
 
Nathan Wrzesinski
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Go to your local restaurants around the area and ask if any of the food comes in 5 gallon buckets (think pickles, jalapenos, soy sauce, you name it)
Cut up your seed potato (or leave it whole) and put them at the bottom of the bucket and sprout them.
As the plant grows, add soil above. I have been wondering about stacking them and having the potato grow through. but I don't have a whole lot of garden space right now.
Maybe I could do them in a milk crate that shares its walls growing arugula and spinach. I'll find the space just to try it out.


This lady got an 8x yield from her bucket potatoes!
http://livingthefrugallife.blogspot.com/2009/09/potato-buckets-experimental-yields.html
 
John Weiland
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Just put these in today as the first annual crops for the year.....last "frost day" is still several weeks away into May. The top photo is the cherished manure pile, where the chickens and dogs spend much time playing. This year's manure is farther to the right and the more aged, usable manure is in the left side of the pile. A tractor front-loader is used to dump manure over the fence of the garden into a large pile

In the bottom photo there are essentially 4 main rows, with potatoes planted in double rows....from left to right, the third row over has uncovered potatoes, whereas row 2's are already hilled. Row 1 is what it looks like before rototilling the manure and row 4 is a example of a rototilled row waiting to be planted. The ends of each double-row are then 'sealed' after hilling.....the ends are formed into a U-shape so that once the soil settles and compacts a bit, you can water (if necessary) into the trough between the double rows and not have water wasted between the rows.

Red potatoes do best here and have the best storage, so we plant 1.5 rows of these. Yukon Golds don't store as well....we plant ~0.5 row of these. One row is for Russets, which do well enough but not as good as the Reds. We've kept this seed stock going now for over 15 years and get plenty of what we need with a good amount left over each year.
Manure&Chuks.jpg
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TaterPlanting.jpg
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elle sagenev
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I've tried a few methods. I haven't found one that outshines another in any real way.

http://peacockorchard.com/2015/10/13/my-review-of-three-potato-gardening-methods/
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Nathan,
I've gotten pickle buckets before for use on my boat but for potatoes I'd have to put holes in them for drainage, right?
I like the milk crate idea. I think I'd put marigolds into the holes in the crates to help with bad nematodes and because they're beautiful.

John,
Your soil is gorgeous. I've now finished my tater planting but with pictures like yours I'd be embarrassed to post pics of my tater hills. Way to go on the seed saving. Have you rotated the potato planting areas?


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).
 
Marco Banks
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Shawn Harper wrote:Potatoes are weeds in my garden. They pop up everywhere because I compost all potatoes that get too old or peels. If I want to introduce a new type I just plant a whole tuber in a hugelbed or a compost pile. My piles are never big enough to get hot, so they are just feral worm farms. They don't smell so I don't really care. I guess thats one good thing about my climate.


You and I have the same "technique".

I planted potatoes years ago, and now they come up volunteer all over. When I want potatoes, I go out and root around until I find some. I've got them growing all over in and among my citrus trees. They seem happy there.

Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are practically invasive. If you want sweet potatoes at my house, you just sit still for a few minutes and they'll grow right over to where you are. At night, they come through the windows, looking for a quiet place to sleep. They go everywhere, and next year come up all the more hearty.

We mulch heavily throughout our garden and orchard with wood chips (Back to Eden method), so it's a perfect medium for potatoes to root into and continue to come back year after year.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Location: Palmyra, Virginia
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Marco Banks wrote:
Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are practically invasive. If you want sweet potatoes at my house, you just sit still for a few minutes and they'll grow right over to where you are. At night, they come through the windows, looking for a quiet place to sleep. They go everywhere, and next year come up all the more hearty.


Thanks Marco, now I won't be able to sleep tonight. I'll be listening for sweet potatoes at the window. :
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