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Potato fail.

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Potato fail.

Post  The Cat's Other Mother on 7/17/2010, 12:15 pm

I planted two potatoes in a 12" deep box, and they grew nice plants, one of which died over the last week, so I dug it up. No potatoes, not even a tiny nubbin of one. Is a 1x1' space too confined? Should I have planted potatoes seperately so I could 'hill' them? Should I dig up and toss the other one too, and plant something else in my boxes?

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Re: Potato fail.

Post  Retired Member 1 on 7/17/2010, 12:33 pm

What zone are you in? It may have been too warm for potatoes -- here we plant them in very early spring. 12" deep box is a bit shallow, but as long as you planted the seed potato at the bottom of the box you should have gotten some harvest if not planted too late.

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Potatoes

Post  ander217 on 7/17/2010, 8:16 pm

We have planted potatoes in our row garden for years. We plant them about six inches deep, and we only hill them as necessary to keep the developing tubers from getting sun and turning green, - usually once a season is enough. I never understood why people keep adding more and more soil around them. It seems to me it would force the plant to grow more leaves instead of putting that energy into making tubers, but others seem to have success with it, so go with what works for you. We have always gotten a nice harvest from our method.

Potatoes stop producing tubers when the soil temperature goes too high. We aim for planting ours on Mar. 17th so we can harvest before really hot weather.

I planted my 12" deep SFG box with seed potatoes a few weeks ago and the tops are now up and growing in most of the grids. I hope the soil temps will moderate by the time the plants are ready to produce tubers, but we'll see what happens.

Sorry you didn't get any potatoes. I hope your other plant produces for you but if not, try again next year.
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Re: Potato fail.

Post  Chopper on 7/17/2010, 8:26 pm

All the instruction I have read say that when the plant grows to hill it up so you have about 6" of plant above the soil. I understand that potatoes are not roots. They grow off of the vine itself. So I figured that the more you hill, the more vine to produce potatoes. But, I only know what I read.

That said. I have 8" of soil I planted in - deep - and then added an 8" riser and most of the potatoes were in the bottom 8 inches when harvested. I may do two boxes next year. One with a riser and one without. Very interesting.

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potatoes

Post  ander217 on 7/18/2010, 8:51 am

I know Chopper, I've read the same thing myself for years and years.

From what I've seen, the potatoes aren't produced on the stem but on runners coming from the stem. We used to plant our potatoes in our row garden and make a mound or hill over them at planting time, and every time we hoed the weeds we'd pull up more soil around them, just like Grandma did. In later years we planted them deeper, and then just hilled the soil over them as potatoes showed at the top of the ground. We only had to hill them once when tubers showed on top, and our harvest was as good as ever.

Would they have produced more runners higher up the stem if we had hilled them more? I can't say. It's possible. But I believe the more potatoes produced by the plant, the smaller each tuber will be. Our method produced one or two large tubers, a few medium, and a few very small tubers per plant. (I believe those would have grown larger had the hot weather not hit unusually early this year.) I think if we had forced our plant to keep putting out runners we would have had very small tubers when the heat wave hit, but that's only supposition.

My recent planting is my first time to plant potatoes in a SFG box. Do those of you who have grown potatoes in SFG find that they produce runners all the way up to the top of the vines when you continue to cover them with more Mel's Mix or mulch? Do the tubers grow to a large size even if the plant produces more tubers?

My big worry now is keeping my new plants alive through the summer heat until they can produce in the cooler fall temps.
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Potato failure

Post  ander217 on 7/18/2010, 8:59 am

Cat's Other Mother, did you add extra nitrogen to your potato box? Too much nitrogen will cause the plant to grow leaves rather than tubers.
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Re: Potato fail.

Post  Megan on 7/18/2010, 10:14 am

Hmm. We grew tons (literally) of potatoes each year when I was a child, but I really don't remember how we planted them.... just the back-breaking work of harvesting them all by hand!

I have a 1x4 highrise of potatoes this year. Total soil depth varies but in some places it approaches 28" deep. I have not gone digging yet, but having read what you've all said I'm now very curious as to what might, or might not, be under there!
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Potato Failure

Post  Mom2Four on 7/18/2010, 10:35 am

I'm trying my hand (or thumb!) at potatoes too and I found this quote while researching it.

"Greg from Irish-Eyes Garden City Seeds let me know that Yukon Golds, and all early varieties set fruit once and do not do well in towers. You only get potatoes in the bottom 6 inches, which is what I got. Late season alternatives to yukon gold are Yellow Fin and Binjte."

Here's the link http://tipnut.com/grow-potatoes/

I had never heard that some varieties fruit once. Thought it might be helpful to someone else too.

Ellen
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Re: Potato fail.

Post  Megan on 7/18/2010, 10:37 am

That gives me some hope, thanks. I planted Kennebecs which are late season. (Pure chance; that was what was left at the feed store when I was there.)
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Thanks, Ellen

Post  ander217 on 7/18/2010, 1:58 pm

Thanks for the info, Ellen. It seems I learn something new every day from this group.

I just looked up the varieties we grow - Red Pontiac, White Cobbler (Irish Cobbler), and Yukon Gold. All are early-season varieties. That might explain why we don't have to hill them up repeatedly. They only produce at the bottom six inches of the plant.

I just planted White Cobbler in my 12" box, so that should be adequate for their growth. I'll let you know this fall.
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Re: Potato fail.

Post  The Cat's Other Mother on 7/18/2010, 3:00 pm

Best guess based on the replies here and other reading is that I planted too late(may & June) and too shallow, and didn't 'hill' at all. I guess I thought that big green plant was a sign of success. Oh well, learning experience.

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