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rotations for potatoes

 
Paula Edwards
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I realized that potatoes grow quite good here as we are at altitude (1000m).
I think on several possible rotations, with dry beans, corn, pumpkin, maybe onions oats. What are usual yields for potatoes? I am pretty sure that I can plant broad beans after the potatoes and they would be ready before I put the corn in or pumpkins. What would you suggest as a rotation and how much time would you leave before planting potatoes once again? Can you plant potatoes before the last night frosts?
 
                            
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Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
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I've grown potatoes as perennials in the same place for 5 or 6 years in USDA zone 6, but with one winter with a few nights down in the -20F range.  When I harvested my crop, I'd leave any that were too small to bother with and remulch.  I mulched about a foot deep, usually with old hay.  I moved off of my land for a while and the volunteers quit producing after the mulch got too thin.  I think it was a combination of freezing too deep and too many weeds.  When I get back to living on my land, I'll start another patch.

One other idea I've used is laying the spuds right on the ground and burying them in a foot or so of mulch (hay or straw) and then using that bed for other crops the next year.  After sitting under the mulch for a year, there was no need to till the soil.

Who rotates plants in nature?  If you mulch deep and don't plant large monocultures there should never be much need to rotate, especially if 'rotate' means move the patch a few feet away.
 
Paula Edwards
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Never thought of perennial potatoes and this might work here. However, I don't insist in perennials, I want to have both a perennial garden and an annual. I guess that harvests would decline over time.
 
                    
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i am going heavy on the potatoes this year. i have them in a spot i like. i also like the idea of making them perennial or at least not rotating them. i wasn't so sure tho because most of what i read says that the must be rotated or will become diseased. doesn't sound right to me but thats what 'they' say.

 
Paula Edwards
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Rotation is a time honoured practice of natural farming. The only thing what speaks against rotation is that you would need more space to grow the amount of potatoes, because you have to grow something else too.
In a natural ecosystem the potatoes would grow until they are too successful and then their population would break down.
I wonder what counts more in the rotation: the different crops grown or the time. In our mild climate we can for example grow broad beans in winter and then I would maybe put corn in the next summer, then something else(?) maybe oats in winter and then potatoes once again.  That would mean I would plant the potatoes every two years in the same spot.
 
John Polk
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I have mixed emotions regarding rotation.  I can certainly understand its value in monoculture systems.  The same plant family replanted year after year in the same plot can indeed invite pests and pathogens particular to that family.  But what about the farmer who plants clovers (legume) every fall to overwinter, or continuous alfalfa (legume) for decades?

An old timer I knew (he passed a few years ago in his 90's) told me his grampa taught him a method of rotation not based on plant families, but on end product.  His scheme was root/fruit/leaf.  Each of those groups has different requirements from the soil and nutrients, and his claim was that with his method he was not overburdening his soil by not making the same demands on it each season.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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A very common and useful rotation is to grow beans or peas, followed by heavily manured corn, followed by squash, followed by potatoes.  I would add in a year (or five) of alfalfa for my goats (alfalfa is a perennial, not a long-lived one in some climates, but a perennial nevertheless). 

Kathleen
 
                    
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
A very common and useful rotation is to grow beans or peas, followed by heavily manured corn, followed by squash, followed by potatoes.  I would add in a year (or five) of alfalfa for my goats (alfalfa is a perennial, not a long-lived one in some climates, but a perennial nevertheless). 

Kathleen


why do i hear so much that alfalfa is unhealthy? is that just with regards to rabbits and humans? or is it for other animals too?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Alfalfa sprouts aren't good for humans (at least not for some humans -- anyone with lupus needs to avoid them as they can cause a lupus flare, something we have to consider as my DD has lupus).  Alfalfa green in the field can cause bloat, although I see big herds of mule deer out there all the time eating it, and it evidently doesn't cause them any harm.  I feed small amounts of fresh alfalfa to my goats in the summer.  But their primary diet is alfalfa hay, and they do fine on that.  So do my rabbits.  I feed some rabbit pellets, which are mostly alfalfa, but primarily the rabbits get the stems and stuff that the goats leave in their manger.  The chickens clean up some of the fines (dust-like shattered alfalfa leaves), so there's very little waste. 

Kathleen
 
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