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Am I too late for potatoes?

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Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  cautery on 3/18/2013, 11:40 pm

Going to either make some 2x2 frames with 1x6 lumber or use some (free to me) heavy duty contractor bags to plant potatoes.... the boy wants to do them... anything that gets him in the garden with me voluntarily.... well, we're doing it.

Do I HAVE to use mulch, or can I simply use Mel's mix? I have an "extra" 16 cu. ft. that I can make up from stuff I let get wet that I don't want to worry about getting all the lumps out of... It'll blend fine for potatoes I think... and maybe by next year, I can blend it all up well enough for use elsewhere....

Ordering fresh ingredients tomorrow for another 4 boxes...
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Be careful which varieties you choose!

Post  Farmer Don on 3/19/2013, 12:50 am

Hi Cautery,

If you are using a raised bed, remember Mel recommends using high risers for those squares planted with potatoes. Or you could just make a 12" deep raised bed instead of a 6". That's what I do because it is just easier for me to work with for carrots and the like as well. Potatoes, just like tomatoes, come in determinate and indeterminate varieties. The determinate varieties generally flower all at once and produce a single crop at the same depth. (Great for mechanical harvesting.) They are generally early and midseason varieties. Mel's mix will work fine. Just remember that potatoes need some friable soil and air to produce good tubers. Clay is tough on potatoes. Although Red Pontiac handles clay better than most. Not an issue with Mel's Mix. A good determinate variety is Yukon Gold. Indeterminate varities which are generally late season varieties are suitable for growing in potato towers or contractor bags. They will continue to grow and flower as long as you keep adding Mel's Mix until the end of the season when the foliage dies back and they are ready for harvest. They will send out tubers at different depths along the roots. A classic indeterminate variety is German Butterball. Be sure to rotate your potato crop squares on a 3 year rotation if at all possible. This will help reduce the possibility of many potato diseases. There is no comparison in flavor between a home grown potato and a store bought one. Also be sure to get organic seed potatoes if at all possible. Organic guidelines for certification prohibit GMO or GE stock. Experiments in England were performed by feeding GMO potatoes to aphids. Ladybugs were then introduced to eat the aphids. Test results showed a 50% decrease in lady bug fertility and lifespan. The USDA does not require the labeling of any GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) or GE (Genetically Engineered) component in our food supply. The EU, Russia, China and Japan have all banned these largely untested products due to the health implications involved. If this isn't a great reason to grow your own safe and nourishing food using the low impact and highly successful SFG method, then I don't know what is! Grow organic, fresh and local!
Best of luck.
Farmer Don

PS There are as many opinions as varieties when it comes to potatoes, maybe more. LOL! I'm sure other gardeners will be able to add much more to this for you. The right way is the one that works for you. Mel has a potato growing video on You Tube which shows him using a square five gallon bucket to grow potatoes. Here's the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oH1Z_dUEgIg
My guess is that they were an indeterminate variety.
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  cautery on 3/19/2013, 7:08 am

So, I am not too late for potatoes? Wink

Thanks for all the info!

I was going to build 2'x2' frames out of 1"x6" lumber suitable for stacking... Smile Weed block on ground, seed in bottom frame. As I "hill" the potatoes, I simply add a frame as needed.

Here in 8b (NW LA), if I get started right away, and assuming I can find indeterminate potato seed in one of my local farm supply stores, approximately how many times should I be able to raise the level before I need to stop and let them develop tubers? Approx. month to stop hilling...
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  yolos on 3/19/2013, 9:13 am

Cautery - here is a link to lsu growing potatoes in louisiana (sp). It says early spring. If you are going to try to grow them, get them in the ground now. I am still not sure if it is too late. I am in middle georgia and plant late Feb early March.

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/NR/rdonlyres/45E69F58-57DD-4E49-90A4-1B173B7DBCA2/26609/pub1903irishpotatoes.pdf
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  Farmer Don on 3/19/2013, 11:14 am

Hi Clay,

Great site recommended by Yolos. Being located in Northern NJ, we still have about 4 inches of snow on the ground right now and can't plant yet. From my experience and the article seems to agree, the tubers start to form when the plant flowers. I would think that Mel's recommendation of 12" of MM should work fine so that would be two tiers of 6" boards (untreated wood Very Happy )for indeterminate varieties. We harvest after tops die back or frost hits. You are blessed with a much longer growing season than we are. Even if you are a bit late, get them in right away. "New" potatoes are great too. Good luck!
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  cautery on 3/19/2013, 11:14 am

Well I bought some seed potatoes today... I was wanting to do square buckets, but in the interest of time, I'm going to put them in using contractor bags and not cut the seed potatoes (no wait for scabbing).

The seed potatoes are already sprouting....
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  cautery on 3/19/2013, 11:15 am

Thanks folks... gonna put them in as quickly as I can... Gotta mix some dirt. Wink
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Thanks yolos - Potatoes in middle GA - Hope it's not too late!

Post  Windmere on 3/19/2013, 12:44 pm

@yolos wrote:Cautery - here is a link to lsu growing potatoes in louisiana (sp). It says early spring. If you are going to try to grow them, get them in the ground now. I am still not sure if it is too late. I am in middle georgia and plant late Feb early March.

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/NR/rdonlyres/45E69F58-57DD-4E49-90A4-1B173B7DBCA2/26609/pub1903irishpotatoes.pdf

You are always a wealth of information yolos! I have bunch of tubs from kitty litter. I will clean them super well and use those as my potato containers. I have organic potatoes from the farmer's market and plan to use those. They are sprouting right now. Hope I'm not too later in the season though.

Very Happy
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Using buckets...

Post  cautery on 3/20/2013, 9:40 pm

OK... switched from frames to buckets... saved a little money, but mostly time. I'll be able to plant tomorrow (ULINE delivered in 1 day).

They're square but only 10"x10"...

Questions:

1) Can I still use 4 seeds per bucket?

2) Should there be holes in the bottom? Mel didn't cover that in his Potato Bucket video. If so, how large... I was considering 4 each 3/8" holes and line the bottom with landscape fabric.

Thanks!

PS - Had to accept Yukon Gold as seed... Is this a determinant variety? Will I be able to even do the multi-hilling technique?
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  FamilyGardening on 3/20/2013, 9:50 pm

Yukons only put out one set of potatoes....so no multi hilling.... but...they are yummy!

yes drill some holes at the bottom of the bucket for water to drain....

one thing you could try is put some MM in the bottom of the bucket and then a couple Yukon seed potatoes, then a few inch's of MM....layering the potatoes in the soil and see if you get a bigger harvest.....we are trying it this year in a container......i know Josh a gardener on here did this last year in his garden and it worked well for him....i dont remember what kind of potato he planted...you could try and do a potato search and see if you can find the thread he had..... Very Happy

keep us posted on how it goes
happy gardening
rose
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  cautery on 3/20/2013, 10:59 pm

Can't hurt.... I've got 5lbs of seed and nowhere but the 4 buckets to put them... I'll give it a shot...
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Two-pronged attack...

Post  cautery on 3/24/2013, 2:52 pm

So, I have the 5 lbs of Yukon Gold that is late going in... I've put it under the grow light, and as soon as this cold snap passes, I've decided to put it ALL in using the 16 cu ft worth of MM ingredients I let get wet and that I haven't mixed up yet.

I'm going to put down a row of weed barrier across the yard near the back fence and border it with bricks. I'll put the MM in the center in a row. Then I'll plant the potatoes whole under MM i a shallow trench. Then, I'll "hill" the MM over them as required during the next 2 months or so. I'll mulch if necessary to guard against hot early summer, and keep them well watered. I'll harvest them in about 3 months.... and reclaim my dirt for use elsewhere. Maybe till it into the soil UNDER where I plan to plant the blackberries, or blueberries, etc...



And, I ordered some late/indeterminate German Butterball that will get here in "April"...

I'm going to plant the German Butterballs EITHER in the square white buckets I bought for the purpose, or build some SFG/Henley Tower hybrids I'm working on.... probably both.
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  yolos on 3/24/2013, 3:04 pm

Cautery - Is that a sweet potato in the background in the jar trying to root??
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  cautery on 3/24/2013, 3:06 pm

@yolos wrote:Cautery - Is that a sweet potato in the background in the jar trying to root??

Nope... that's 3 of my tomato cuttings in the latter stages of death... or the first stages of composting... whichever way you want to look at it. Trying to save the other 5 in MM...
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Bed ready....

Post  cautery on 3/25/2013, 10:01 pm

Finally got warm enough to work outside about 1030hrs... Spent the rest of the day mixing up all the wet MM ingredients I had left.... about another 16 cu ft... Laid out a 48" wide weed barrier in the 10 foot easement across the back yard.... 15' net inside length.

Lined it with bricks... wrapped weed barrier around first layer of bricks to the inside with about a 4" overlap. Put on a second staggered layer of bricks to hold weed barrier in place and give some additional height.

Net inside dimensions wound up just under 24" wide by 15' long. Filled it with MM... Had approximately 33 cu ft left over and placed in vermiculite bags for use when settling sets in and or when I need additional material for late hilling/covering roots/tubers.

I'm gonna plant them tomorrow... whole seed potatoes every 6" in a furrow cut down the middle with about 1" of mix under the seed. I may actually put the seed on the weed barrier to maximize available covering soil depth.

I was really going to try and get some back yard pics today, but with the bed, clean-up, et al... I used my last few minutes of daylight to re-cover the tomatoes and peppers.
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Signs of life...

Post  cautery on 4/7/2013, 5:17 pm

I've been agonizing over my Yukon Gold Potato bed as it was a non-planned, rush job after I found out they were 1) late and 2) determinant.

Been worrying about having used the less than optimal MM ingredients that got wet on the pallets, worried about location (less than optimal sun, and slightly low), etc, etc...

Well, yesterday when I was cleaning some of the storm debris off the bed, I noticed "cracks" in the MM on about 6" centers in about 50% of the planting locations... so I have definite growth activity.

I was hoping one or more would show their heads today, but not yet.

Checked the MM moisture and decided to give them a deep drink after 2 days of high 70s and some wind.

Hopefully, I'll have some pics of greens to show in the bed in a day or two.
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  Gunny on 4/7/2013, 5:54 pm

If you were in my part of the county you would be to early by about 6-7 months. Although I put some in in Feb. they're not supposed to be planted until Oct. down here. Our growing seasons are about 180 out from the rest of the country for spring planting, much to my dismay. I just pulled my lettuce because it was getting bitter. My spinach is still going good and the herbs are fine. Will now have to wait until fall to replant my spring garden as most everything goes in in Sept. Sweet potatoes are the one exception and can be planted until the middle of may. I am trying to get some slips from a store bought one, had haved it lengthwise and had the halves soaking for two weeks with no results yet, so covered them with water and after a few days am seeing what looks like growth on the skin, must have had them upside down in the water. Oh well, another learning experience :B-):
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  cautery on 4/7/2013, 6:20 pm

@Gunny wrote:If you were in my part of the county you would be to early by about 6-7 months. Although I put some in in Feb. they're not supposed to be planted until Oct. down here. Our growing seasons are about 180 out from the rest of the country for spring planting, much to my dismay. I just pulled my lettuce because it was getting bitter. My spinach is still going good and the herbs are fine. Will now have to wait until fall to replant my spring garden as most everything goes in in Sept. Sweet potatoes are the one exception and can be planted until the middle of may. I am trying to get some slips from a store bought one, had haved it lengthwise and had the halves soaking for two weeks with no results yet, so covered them with water and after a few days am seeing what looks like growth on the skin, must have had them upside down in the water. Oh well, another learning experience :B-):

Arizona, right? I spent a century in Yuma, AZ one week on a client visit. Wink

Yeah, I think I am still massively under-educated on potatoes, but they SAY that you can/should plant the early varieties (mostly determinant) of potatoes around here in late Feb/early March. I was a bit late...

I have some heirloom indeterminant potatoes on-order that should arrive soon, for planting in buckets/bags... whatever. Basically, it's a variety that will produce in multiple levels of hilling.

Sweet Potatoes: LOL! No telling... Sweet Potatoes are a HUGE crop further south in Louisiana, and I really should be trying some, but I want to do some more research on them to make sure I pick the right variety, time, mix, ph, etc. I want them to make...
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  Gunny on 4/7/2013, 6:45 pm

I plan on using separate boxes for the sweets. I have some white superior in tires and some reds in an old animal cage. So far the whites are doing better than the reds. I also put in a russet but dont hold much faith for it as was store bought. Not surprised by the reds not wanting to do much, got them at HD four months after planting time. Picked up aa small package of fingerlings at the 99 cent store and they are sprouting, might try an experiment with them and see what happens. Who knows, might beat the odds with one or the other.
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Re: Am I too late for potatoes?

Post  cautery on 4/7/2013, 7:36 pm

@Gunny wrote:I plan on using separate boxes for the sweets. I have some white superior in tires and some reds in an old animal cage. So far the whites are doing better than the reds. I also put in a russet but dont hold much faith for it as was store bought. Not surprised by the reds not wanting to do much, got them at HD four months after planting time. Picked up aa small package of fingerlings at the 99 cent store and they are sprouting, might try an experiment with them and see what happens. Who knows, might beat the odds with one or the other.


I'll definitely be using a separate bed/bx for the sweet taters... Yep... by the time I looked at HD, all the potatoes they had were sprouted to 4" or more... Maybe would have worked, but I found the 5lb bag of Yukons at my favorite farm and garden... and prefer to give her my money when I can.
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