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First post, first time SFG, potato question

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First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  northerngardens on 5/3/2010, 8:02 am

I want to plant some potatoes, Yukon Golds. Do I just use my standard height beds for planting or should I build up the height of the boxes and add more mix?

When do you plant the potato starters? Before the spring frost or after? I'm in a northern climate btw.

I've never planted potatoes before and I don't have any idea on how to do it Smile

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/3/2010, 8:38 am

Welcome! I'm not in your temperate zone so will defer the when question to more experienced "northern" folks. I just wanted to say hello and hope you will be regular around here. I do know you want a deeper box for potatoes as they grow above the seed potato you will plant -- the deeper the box the more potatoes.

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  lizzo on 5/3/2010, 10:15 am

According to Mel, when the soil has reached 45 degrees. There's good instructions on pages 221-222 of the All New SFG book.

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  quiltbea on 5/3/2010, 11:13 am

I planted some last year. Dig a trench and place your seed potatos in the bottom of it. Cover with 6" soil. When the green top is 12" tall, pull the soil up around the plant again so that only 6" of green is showing.
The deeper your bed the more potatoes because then you can start out with a very deep trench and just keep filling it as the plant grows.

I planted mine in a mounded bed last year. Too little abundance for the effort so I didn't do it this year. They were very good, tho. I had both Kennebecs and Golden russet.



This shows the patch really growing well.


Here is some of the bounty. Very tasty.


Last edited by boffer on 5/3/2010, 11:24 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : to add more pics boffer>fix code showing)

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  timwardell on 5/3/2010, 11:36 am

Yes, you will want to plant the potatoes in soil deeper than the normal 6". Many SFG'ers plant spuds in 12" or 18" deep boxes. Potatoes typically go in the ground prior to the last frost. Check the pages of the book indicated by lizzo above.
Good luck.

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  castoral on 5/3/2010, 12:19 pm

Since the soil from growing potatoes cannot be used the following year, I opted to keep them out of my sqaure foot garden. Instead, I'm doing container gardening for these. I had a few galvanized tubs laying around so this is what I plan to use for growing mine. I've also read that you can use trashcans (cleaned of course), rubbermaid tubs, even trashbags!

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  dano on 5/3/2010, 12:50 pm

Why can't you use the soil next year? I've never heard that before.

I'm growing potatoes for the first time. I've been completely coving
the green once a week. That is how I interpreted the book. Is that
wrong?

I built a riser for my root crops (potatoes and carrots). Here are a couple pics.




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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  castoral on 5/3/2010, 1:10 pm

I'll have to look into the exact reason why, but I've always read that potatoes basically disease their own soil each year. You have to rotate potatoe growing beds at least every 4 years. Hence the Great Potato Famine!

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/3/2010, 1:33 pm

You shouldn't grow potatoes in the same space each year, but you can grow something else in the soil, just not of the nighshade family. The great potato famine of Ireland happened because they never rotated the crops and soil born organisms attacked the potatoes. We really should rotate every crop family each year, but that is difficult to do in small gardens.

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hmmm...now you've got me thinking (warning!)

Post  LaFee on 5/3/2010, 2:50 pm

could I, then, mix the contents of my grow bags back into my SFG after this season? The only nightshade I'm growing in my box is tomatos -- the potatoes are in their own bags. (White heavy-duty Tyvek bags - think a white tarp sewn into a bag...I have the tops of the bags rolled down, so I will roll them up as I bury the potatoes deeper).

Or would it be better to keep that soil for windowboxes and topping off my regular beds? (Where I've got flowers planted).

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  quiltbea on 5/3/2010, 3:03 pm

Potatoes need a low PH soil so you add peat moss to the soil to bring it down.
You will have to rejuvenite the soil with lime to bring the PH back up before the next spring so add it after the potatoes are harvested.
You can use the same bed for another crop, just not in the same family.

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  Odd Duck on 5/3/2010, 3:48 pm

I'm growing potatoes for the first time myself, but I did consult my favorite garden advisors for help and specific recommendations for my area (Zone 7b/8a). I will pass on all my second hand wisdom, now.

A rule of thumb I was told was "Grow 6, cover 3, grow 6 cover 3". In other words, every time the potato stem gets to 6 inches tall, cover 3 inches of stem. You keep doing this until the potatoes start to bloom. The deeper the potato stems are, the more potatoes they should produce along that stem.

Once the plants are blooming, you can dig some new potatoes within about 2 weeks, then whenever you like until the plants start to yellow. How big they get would depend on how patient you are. I doubt any of mine will get to the mature, full-size potato stage. I like new potatoes too much.

It is definitely recommended that you rotate crops, ideally not growing another nightshade family member in the same spot for 3-4 years. Potatoes and tomatoes can give each other early blight and late blight and these are organisms that tend to build up in the soil.

I'm growing mine in big, plastic pots (only $14 for pots about 24" across) and I planted 6 or 7 seed potatoes in each, but not all grew since we had an exceptionally cool and wet early spring. I plan on rotating into the big pots just like it is a section of square foot garden, so the "potato spot" will rotate around and eventually back into pots in about 4 years. I planted the seed potatoes on top of about 4 inches of soil and covered with pinestraw and Mix, then waited, seemingly forever.

Once the sprouts got to 6" tall, I added more pinestraw and Mix to cover 3" of stem, then repeat, repeat, repeat as needed. My plants are so tall now, that the Mix is going to leak off the edges if I mound it anymore and the plants are at least 15" taller than that. If I had been on regular ground, I would have mounded higher, but I couldn't (and the pots are tall, I've got at least 18" of stem covered).

The plants finally have buds and will probably bloom sometime this week. I planted them January 23rd (perhaps jumped the gun a little, but that's what the local folks recommended). Next year I will likely wait at least a week longer.

So, that's my full experience with Irish potatoes and the sum total of my expertise of a whole 5 months of growing potatoes. But the "Grow 6, cover 3" rule I think was very helpful for me.

Sharon

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  dano on 5/3/2010, 3:56 pm

Great post Sharon!

How much water do potatoes like?

I've been watering most of my boxes 2x per day, since you cannot over water Mel's Mix. All of my seeds sprouted in 2 weeks and none of my starters had any transplant shock. For no reason that I know of, I've been watering the potatoes less.

Dan

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  Odd Duck on 5/3/2010, 5:08 pm

I didn't have to water much at all since we had a wet early spring. I've been watering twice weekly and they seem to be doing great.

I think one of the big dangers is staying too wet before the sprouts start - the seed potatoes will rot.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the sulfer powder that I coated the seed potatoes in before planting. And if you cut your own from larger potatoes, let them dry on the counter for a few days, then roll in sulfer, then plant.

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Re-using raised bed box

Post  Dietryin on 5/3/2010, 5:26 pm

belfrybat wrote:You shouldn't grow potatoes in the same space each year,

I am planting a 4x8 bed of potatoes. My plan is to empty the box after the harvest and add the Mel mix soil to a new flower bed area. Then reuse my box for next years planting.

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  northerngardens on 5/3/2010, 7:34 pm

wow! Thanks for all of the great tips! I feel much more confident as I prepare to plant my seed potatoes Smile

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  Idahospud on 5/4/2010, 12:22 am

Don't let the the name fool you. I do live in Idaho but last year was my first year growing potatoes or any veggie other then a couple tomatoes every summer.

I removed the soil from a couple squares and planted 4 Russets per square. I continued to bury the plants as they popped out of the soil and used another 1'x2'x6" box on top of the squares. A large portion of the potatoes I harvested were around the size of a lime or smaller. My thought was maybe I over planted the squares. Is four per square too many?

It's also news to me to not plant spuds in the same spot which is what I did but before planting I completely turned my boxes after adding more compost. Is that good enough to plant in those same squares again?

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  jerzyjen on 5/4/2010, 7:34 am

This year I'm doing trash can potatos (you can google that exact phrase and get a ton of helpful results). Last year I had a few squares where I put in fingerlings. I harvested them all (or at least I thought) and this year when i started my beds and added in some fresh compost, and mixed up the bed. Now you guys got me paranoid about the disease issue. The other thing, I noticed a few little green sprouts coming out of the boxes in the area i had these last year that look like potato sprouts and not just a random weed. I'm growing broccoli in those squares now, should I be worried?

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  boffer on 5/4/2010, 10:30 am

I grow a couple hundred pounds of potatoes every year for winter storage. I'm not conscientious about rotation. Some years I do; some I don't. I haven't had any problems.

I have a few areas where the potatoes have been growing for 5 years. I can't get rid of them! Invariably, at harvest time, I leave a few orphans behind. They over-winter and peek out early. I could pull them then, but they're survivors so I let them be. I have spuds in with flowers, compost, other veggies, and the edge of the woods where I've thrown spuds that I nicked while harvesting that wouldn't store well. For me, they grow like weeds. If only I were so lucky with getting red tomatoes!

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like to know odd ducks yield from her post

Post  thecanuck22 on 5/22/2011, 10:40 pm

@Odd Duck wrote:I'm growing potatoes for the first time myself, but I did consult my favorite garden advisors for help and specific recommendations for my area (Zone 7b/8a). I will pass on all my second hand wisdom, now.

A rule of thumb I was told was "Grow 6, cover 3, grow 6 cover 3". In other words, every time the potato stem gets to 6 inches tall, cover 3 inches of stem. You keep doing this until the potatoes start to bloom. The deeper the potato stems are, the more potatoes they should produce along that stem.

Once the plants are blooming, you can dig some new potatoes within about 2 weeks, then whenever you like until the plants start to yellow. How big they get would depend on how patient you are. I doubt any of mine will get to the mature, full-size potato stage. I like new potatoes too much.

It is definitely recommended that you rotate crops, ideally not growing another nightshade family member in the same spot for 3-4 years. Potatoes and tomatoes can give each other early blight and late blight and these are organisms that tend to build up in the soil.

I'm growing mine in big, plastic pots (only $14 for pots about 24" across) and I planted 6 or 7 seed potatoes in each, but not all grew since we had an exceptionally cool and wet early spring. I plan on rotating into the big pots just like it is a section of square foot garden, so the "potato spot" will rotate around and eventually back into pots in about 4 years. I planted the seed potatoes on top of about 4 inches of soil and covered with pinestraw and Mix, then waited, seemingly forever.

Once the sprouts got to 6" tall, I added more pinestraw and Mix to cover 3" of stem, then repeat, repeat, repeat as needed. My plants are so tall now, that the Mix is going to leak off the edges if I mound it anymore and the plants are at least 15" taller than that. If I had been on regular ground, I would have mounded higher, but I couldn't (and the pots are tall, I've got at least 18" of stem covered).

The plants finally have buds and will probably bloom sometime this week. I planted them January 23rd (perhaps jumped the gun a little, but that's what the local folks recommended). Next year I will likely wait at least a week longer.

So, that's my full experience with Irish potatoes and the sum total of my expertise of a whole 5 months of growing potatoes. But the "Grow 6, cover 3" rule I think was very helpful for me.

Sharon

Just a bump. I would love to know your what your results were like Sharon? And what are you doing this year, Great post btw.

Boffer what method of planting are you primarily using?

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

Post  FamilyGardening on 5/23/2011, 8:53 pm

Im also curious how the harvest was Very Happy

Im growing mine in garbage cans and wine barrels...... so far i have been using MM mix...but have run out.....i was wondering how they did using the straw?...i have a bunch of left over straw and would love to try it.....

hugs
rose

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Re: First post, first time SFG, potato question

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