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potato question

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potato question

Post  Pepper on 3/15/2013, 2:08 pm

Last year I tried 'tater tires' which flopped. This year I have planted a full MM bed 4'x8'x12" with 3 varieties of taters; 2 reds and 1 white. I took atleast half of the MM out before planting 4 seed chunks per square. I intend to add the MM back as 'hilling'.

My question is should I add another 4'x8'x12" frame to the top and continue 'hilling' with straw? I am concerned with this many taters they will break the ground and get sun damaged. I have another frame that only needs assembly since I did not move the shrub bush behind this bed before it came back to life.
Bed in question is the one in back on the right
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Re: potato question

Post  quiltbea on 3/15/2013, 4:08 pm

To have bountiful taters, you need to dig a trench in which you place your seed potatoes and cover with about 3" of soil. Potatoes grow alongside the plants, not down.

Mine were in a berm, not a bed but same principle. Early in the season after second hilling.

When those grow and have greenery about 6"-7" tall, you cover that greenery with another 3" of soil leaving about 3" of greenery showing. You do this about 4 times and then you let the taters 'do their thing' and grow under all that rich soil.
Pepper....In your case, I think you'll need another frame on top of the one you have since your taters are already at the top level with the bed. If any taters show a bit in the soil, be sure to cover them well with soil or straw or compost to be sure they don't get green (poisonous).

Patch later in season. All hilled and growing well.

You need at least 12" minimum of depth. You'll 'hill up' (add more soil) about 3" each time as the plant grows til the 4th time. Then leave them alone except for watering and mulching until fall and covering any that reach the top beforehand.
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Re: potato question

Post  Pepper on 3/15/2013, 4:29 pm

thanks for you reply quiltbea may be I was not clear. This is a 12 in bed with the top 6 inches of MM removed. The taters are about 2 to 3 in deep. That leaves me app 6 inches of MM to add back. I hope for a bumper crop that should break the soil letting the sun in, if I dont add the next level with straw/mulch.

Will the straw count as soil for the taters to grow in? I only have 6 more inches of MM to add to bring me up to the top of THIS bed frame. That will make only two 'hillings' @ 3in a hilling. Or should I make more MM for the full 4 hillings?
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Re: potato question

Post  Turan on 3/16/2013, 12:13 am

One well established ways to grow potaters is to plant them just barely covered with soil and then when they sprout mulch about 6" and then when they have grown through that and are 6" high mulch again.

So yes you can hill first with MM and then later with mulch and all should be happy.

You need to stop mulching/hilling at some point, so that the plant turns from making growth to making tubers. I plant in May and stop mulching/hilling by August first and then harvest in September. I don't know your seasons well enough to know if the plants need to be harvested before high summer? My guess is that you need to stop hilling by half way through your season, definitely when they start flowering.

I hope that helps..... cyclops

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Re: potato question

Post  quiltbea on 3/16/2013, 11:54 am

I agree with Turan. Many folks use straw or hay mulch very deep to keep the plants covered. Just be sure they don't peek thru to sunshine and get green. They say it keeps the spuds much cleaner at harvest time.
I've not done that myself so I can't be sure. Its worth a try since you haven't more MM to use as cover.
I did mine with a rich loam, peat and compost mix. Potatoes prefer an acid soil so peat fills that need.
I just hope you take pics and let us know how its working for you, whatever course you take.
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Re: potato question

Post  yolos on 3/16/2013, 12:04 pm

Pepper - I followed your example when I planted my potatoes. So let me know what you use. My plan is to cover to the top of the box with MM as they grow. Then if the tops still look good I will build a second box to sit on the top of the first box. I will be expanding again next year and can use the top box as a normal box next year. But if I do add the second box, I am not sure what I will use as mulch in the top box as the potatoes grow higher into the box.

I have 4 different types of potatoes so I will have to see if there are any that are late season. If they are not late season, it is a waste of time and money to keep hilling them into the top box (I think).
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Re: potato question

Post  Turan on 3/16/2013, 12:35 pm

When I grew potatoes and mulched them I did not know about determinate versus indeterminate potatoes. The varieties I grew didn't grow taters in the mulch, or not much. They are focused in a mat between soil and mulch. The mulch feeds and protects and cools and keeps water more even. I used alfalfa hay, the slugs do not like it while they love straw. Deep mulch is supposed to deter potato beetles. Potatoes will love a handful of bone meal sprinkled over the area at each hilling.

My guess is that potato growing in the south probably can use any thing to keep that potato growing MM cool and evenly moist.

I told myself no potats this year,,,,,, argghhhh.... but I just love growing them tongue

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Re: potato question

Post  Pepper on 3/16/2013, 8:42 pm

Thanks for all your responses; after my failure with tater tires ( http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t11554-tater-tires ) I am gun-shy with using MM. I do wish there was more emphasis on labling taters with determinate and indeterminate. I also found out after my last experiment about the difference; but NOBODY classifies them around here. Even researching seed tater sources you come up empty; I have found nearly nothing about which varieties are which.

Speaking of straw as mulch are yall talking wheat straw, hay mulch, or pine straw that the slugs love? Pine straw would not have the potential to introduce seeds into the MM. Alfalfa hay would probally be expensive down south it has to be trucked in as horse feed.

I do have a couple of failed shredded leaf piles that never really composted I could use. They are atleast a year old so restarting them as compost is not a good option and any seed should also be nill.

I am also thinking about wood chips like in the "Back to Eden" project ( http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t13233-back-to-eden ). The trouble with this option is I dont have any aged chips, fresh ones may creat a nitrogen robbing situation.

Are there any suggestions ladies??? I lean to yall's experience.

I will document with pictures how this progresses, and also ask in the back to eden thread.
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Re: potato question

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/16/2013, 8:53 pm

Lol, we're not all ladies here pepper Cool

This Rookie Topic on mulch may help you:
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t12863-friday-rookie-topics-viii-mulch

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Re: potato question

Post  Pepper on 3/16/2013, 8:59 pm

Sorry RoOsTeR at the time it was only the ladies that had experience. Thanks for your help!!!

Any suggestion ladies or gents.
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Re: potato question

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/16/2013, 9:03 pm

Well, did you happen to read the link I posted above for you? There are suggestions and options there.

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Re: potato question

Post  Pepper on 3/16/2013, 9:21 pm

Thanks again RoOsTeR!! I have now. I guess this rules out the uncomposted shreaded leaves.
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Re: potato question

Post  Turan on 3/16/2013, 9:27 pm

@Pepper wrote:
Speaking of straw as mulch are yall talking wheat straw, hay mulch, or pine straw that the slugs love?

Oooo yeah, regional differences again.
I had really bad slug problems when raising potatoes in wheat and/or barley straw. Little to no slugs when using alfalfa hay. the hay also is a more nutritious mulch being high in nitrogen. My dad would use leaves we jumped a lot. And I think he also used pine needles. Both those are slightly acidic, which potatoes like.

Is Pine straw pine needles? If so I would think it would be ideal for your top mulch.

I have also never seen potatoes labeled as determinate or indeterminate. We figured out that was what we were seeing in a topic here last spring. Mostly it is long season varieties that would be recognized as indeterminate.

Irish Eyes recommends Yellow Finn, Indian Pit, Red Pontiac, or the fingerling types for trying to push the tower thing, which means they are indeterminate.

I hope I am helping.

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Re: potato question

Post  yolos on 3/16/2013, 9:38 pm

Pepper - On 3/10/13 I planted 4 varieties of potatoes. 2 squares of yellow fin (a late season variety), 4 squares of pontiac ( a late season variety), 4 squares of yukon gold, and 4 squares of an unknown variety purchased at Andy's Nursery (couldn't believe that the nursery did not even know what variety they were selling but they were cheap).
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Re: potato question

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/16/2013, 9:43 pm

Pepper, the other thing is if you do happen to find straw or hay for that matter, make sure it doesn't have seed. I learned the hard way covering my garlic with it.

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Re: potato question

Post  Pepper on 3/16/2013, 10:24 pm

Turan you are surely helping!!! The Irish Eyes link is a treasure, it is what I hoped to get with my tater tires, I even used red pontiac's. Well I think it will be pine straw; yes needles; around here it is plentyfull, and relatively cheap. We already use it for ground cover under trees and in the flower beds.
Yea RoOsTeR that is what has been driving my thinking; preventing seed introduction. The link you gave saved me from starving them with the shreaded leaves.
yolos looks like you got 2 late season taters that this method will help. I understand the "not even know what variety they were selling". I had the same thing happen they only knew 'red' and 'white'. I did get 4 lbs of red pontiac's. I am not sure if I am SQ FT gardening or bio-entensive gardening, lol. I am trying to maximize production in my 192 sq feet.
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Re: potato question

Post  Gunny on 3/17/2013, 12:04 am

I am trying with a base of wood chips then a layer of composed horse manure followed by old alfalfa hay. Need to cover them again as they are thriving even if it is off season here. My chart says to plant in Oct. Maybe the cool nights and the shade, there on the east side of my compost station so only get sun for a little while in the mornings and are shaded for the hot part of the day. Have three tire towers and an old three foot square animal cage plus an old leaky tub. Will have to close in the cage if they start growing through the wire. That is if I can keep them going long enough. Grins
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Re: potato question

Post  Pepper on 3/17/2013, 8:11 am

Good deal Gunny, hope your tire towers work better than mine did, they were a flop. I never did figure out if it was too much water retention or if it was the heat from being above ground but most of the plants rotted.
You may want to read the Back to Eden thread I linked above it uses wood chips in a unique fashon, to great results.
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Re: potato question

Post  Gunny on 3/17/2013, 11:14 am

Pepper,
Been there, saw it, don't think it will work in our hot weather with average summer temps in the 120+ range. Besides I am finding eucoliptis (sp?) and oliander in the mix after putting the spuds. Just an experiment as are all my gardening ventures :smile:
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Re: potato question

Post  walshevak on 3/17/2013, 7:06 pm

oleander is highly poisonous. http://library.thinkquest.org/C007974/1_1ole.htm

take care.

Kay

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Re: potato question

Post  Pepper on 4/24/2013, 2:18 pm

OPPS I had forgot about this thread. I did add the next level of frame to the first one. Last Sunday afternoon the misses and I added two bales of pine straw. At first it looked as if we had really messed up. The plants looked really bad and only half of the volume that were there before.

Today they seem to have done well even with the wear; I may have lost some of the smaller plants.

They are still growing tall.


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Re: potato question

Post  Triciasgarden on 4/24/2013, 4:48 pm

Well it sure looks like this year's potatoes are doing great for you Pepper, congratulations!
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Re: potato question

Post  HillbillyBob on 4/25/2013, 9:10 am

they look good hope you get a good load of taters Very Happy
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Re: potato question

Post  TexasAggie on 7/19/2014, 6:36 pm

For regular potatoes, do you put them in wateror cut out the eyes and plant the eyes?
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Re: potato question

Post  camprn on 7/19/2014, 6:55 pm

@TexasAggie wrote:For regular potatoes, do you put them in wateror cut out the eyes and plant the eyes?
You may find your answer here. http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t16841-rookie-topic-potatoes?highlight=rookie+topics+potatoes

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