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How to plant taters

Discussion in 'Fruits & Vegetables' started by sonjab314, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Jan 6, 2011
    sonjab314

    sonjab314 Chillin' with the herd

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    I am seriously considering planting potatoes this year. I have never done it and I could use any advice that I get. I need help in choosing what kind. We use a lot of russett but red skins are good for roasting. I live in zone 5. I'd like to plant enough for my family of 5 (three kids 6 and 9 and two adults) and be able to store them. I also need info on how to properly store them. Any information will be greatly appreciated.
  2. Jan 6, 2011
    chris09

    chris09 Garden Ornament

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    The Information below is from OSU (Ohio State University) Extension fact sheet.
    http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1619.html

    Growing Potatoes in the Home Garden
    HYG-1619-92

    E.C. Wittmeyer
    Marianne Riofrio
    Mark Bennett


    Potatoes can be grown successfully in Ohio gardens, but they require more care and attention than most other vegetables. The potato has specific soil requirements, and thorough insect and disease control is necessary. A good yield would be 150 to 175 pounds of usable potatoes from 100 feet of row. Practices are suggested here to aid in obtaining a high yield of quality potatoes.

    Soil Requirements

    A well-drained, fine sandy loam soil, high in organic matter is preferred. If heavy clay or clay loam soils are used, drainage problems should be corrected and organic matter content improved by growing cover crops or adding aged manure or compost. Be cautioned, however, that manure may increase the incidence of potato scab (see below).

    Seedbed Preparation

    If a cover crop (rye or wheat are excellent choices) was planted the previous fall, it should be turned under before it exceeds 12 inches in height by tilling 8 to 10 inches deep, depending on the depth of the topsoil. After tilling, level the surface slightly so that furrows can be made. It is best to wait at least a week after tilling in the cover crop before planting the seed pieces.

    Soil pH and Fertilizer Practices

    Because scab disease (brown corky tissue on surface of tubers) may be a problem in alkaline or "sweet" soils, the pH should be 5.0 to 5.5. Liberal amounts of fertilizer are required for large yields of potatoes. Ideally, the fertilizer should be placed in continuous bands two to three inches to each side and slightly below the seed piece. However, many gardeners will broadcast the fertilizer before tilling or spading. Fertilizer rates should be based on results of a soil test; a typical rate would be two and a half to three pounds of 8-16-16, 10-20-20, or equivalent per 100 square feet. When plants are four to six inches tall, band two to three pounds of fertilizer per 100 feet of row about 6 to 10 inches from the row, if growth is not satisfactory and if foliage is yellowish-green.

    Variety Selection

    Irish Cobbler is an excellent early maturing variety for the home garden, but seed is scarce. It should be planted early, from late March to mid-May, depending on the section of the state. Norland is an early, red-skinned variety, various strains of which are readily available. Another red-skinned variety is Pontiac, a late-maturing, high-yielding potato of fair cooking quality, but often misshapen. Superior is a white-skinned variety, maturing later than Irish Cobbler, but earlier than two other recommended varieties, Katahdin and Kennebec. These two are desirable when gardeners want to store potatoes.

    Whichever variety is selected, use certified disease-free seed. Such seed is grown under rigid rules and carefully inspected by state authorities. The potato seed is not a true seed, but modified stem tissue known as a tuber. The true seed of the potato occurs in the small, inedible orange fruit the plant produces during mid-season.

    Some feed and garden stores sell B-size seed-small tubers weighing 1-1/2 to 2 ounces. These tubers should not be cut before planting. If 4 to 6 ounce or larger tubers are used, cut them so that each piece is block shaped, contains at least one good eye or bud, and weighs about 1-1/2 ounces. Plant immediately after cutting.

    Planting

    Plant the seed in shallow trenches 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 inches deep and cover with an inch or two of soil. The seed pieces should be spaced 9 to 12 inches apart in rows 28 to 34 inches apart. Nine to 12 pounds of seed will be needed for each 100 feet of row when 1-1/2 to 2 ounce seed pieces are planted 12 inches apart.

    Cultivation and Weed Control

    Due to the small area involved and the variety of potentially sensitive crops grown in the garden, chemical weed control is not recommended. Control weeds by shallow and frequent cultivation. Deep cultivation may cut potato roots and slow growth. When plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, begin to mound soil around the bases of the plants to start forming a ridge or hill. By the time the plants are 15 to 18 inches tall (at last cultivation), the ridge or hill should be 4 to 5 inches high. "Hilling up" is necessary to prevent greening of shallow tubers.

    Insect and Disease Control

    Most feed and garden stores sell approved insecticides and fungicides for use on potatoes. The spraying or dusting program should start as soon as the plants emerge and continue according to the product label until late summer or a few weeks before harvest. Flea beetles, leafhoppers, aphids and Colorado potato beetles are the major insects affecting leaves and stems. Early Blight and Late Blight are the major foliar diseases.

    Garden area previously in sod may harbor wireworms, white grubs and other soil insects. These insects should be controlled before planting. Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for current control recommendations.

    Harvesting and Storage

    For highest yields and best storage, potatoes should not be dug until two weeks after vines have naturally died down. This allows the skins to set and reduces skin peeling, bruising and rot in storage.

    When harvesting at temperatures above 80 degrees F, potatoes should be picked up immediately and put in a dark place. Potatoes exposed to sun and high temperatures will turn green and may rot.

    Most homes do not have a suitable place to store potatoes for more than four to six weeks. To store potatoes for several months, the tubers should be cured in a dark place at 60 to 65 degrees F and a humidity of 85 percent or higher for 10 days. After the tubers are cured, keep them in a cool (40 to 45 degrees F), dark place with high humidity. Under these conditions most varieties will not sprout for two to three months.

    Here are some pictures I took in the fall as I was putting in a fall crop of potatoes.

    Getting started with a light dusting of "natures compost" on top of the row.
    [​IMG]

    Row tilled to the depth of 9 or so inches.
    [​IMG]

    Potatoes in a 6 inch trench.
    [​IMG]

    Potatoes covered about 3 inches
    [​IMG]

    Here are the potatoes after a couple weeks and some hulling of the row. (picture from another crop I had in the spring)
    [​IMG]


    Chris
  3. Jan 6, 2011
    Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Garden Addicted

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    I plant potatoes as early as I can work the ground, about mid-March here. You are a little further north so you may be a bit later. It is not frost that is so much of a problem as the ground being too wet to work. Potatoes are a cool weather crop but can get frost-bit but they will just send out new sprouts if they get bit. I usually cover them with a sheet if they are up and a heavy frost is forecast.

    I suggest for your first year try both a red and a white, just to see how you like them. I get my seed potatoes from a local gardening store. They are a whole lot cheaper than the ones you get by mail and grow just as well. Seed potatoes are often treated with some pretty nasty chemicals to break dormancy so do not eat seed potatoes.

    Storing is a problem for me. Potatoes need to be stored in a fairly humid area around 50 to 60 degrees F. They also need to be kept in the dark otherwise they can sprout. If they are exposed to light, they can also turn green which is highly frowned upon. If they turn green, they have developed a chemical (solaline, solimine, I can't remember the spelling) that is poisonous to humans and some other animals. It is just the green part that is poisonous so you can just peel it away. If you keep dirt over them while the tubers are growing and store them in the dark, this is not a problem.

    How much to plant is a good question. I usually plant about 45 to 50 feet and they go bad before we can use them all. All I can suggest is to experiment.

    Good luck!
  4. Jan 6, 2011
    digitS'

    digitS' Garden Master

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    I hope this can help but put it under "Any information," SonjaB, because it is based on little more than personal experience.

    For many years, I didn't grow potatoes. They just seemed too inexpensive in the stores. Then, these interesting varieties began showing up and I felt left out ;). I'm glad I went back to growing spuds!

    One of the most important things that I gained from a potato patch was new potatoes!! Growing early varieties meant that I could get some of them out of the ground to enjoy with the peas - Creamed Peas & New Potatoes! Early varieties have a lower storage life, I suppose, but they work real well with my gardening schedule. I may plant a late variety in 2011 so that I can get those thru until spring, next year.

    We have probably eaten 80% of our spuds as of right now but it hasn't been much of a bother keeping up with them. They are still very tasty!

    Yukon Gold is just a real good variety and I can understand why it is so popular. The tubers are large, texture is great, flavor is tops, IMO! I also grew Red Norland last year but really would like to get back to Sangre. I think that is a real nice red potato for me. I have grown a few different russets but had Russet Norkotah last year. They are an early russet but I think that may be where I'd choose a later variety in this year. Storage quality should improve.

    My storage should be real good. But . . . 5 months is close to the limit. The spuds have been in my basement since early August and I'm going to get maybe 1 more month but that is only with selecting out the sprouting ones for earliest use - something I've been doing for about 6 weeks now.

    Steve :tools

    Here is a thread on my potato gardening this past year.
  5. Jan 6, 2011
    thistlebloom

    thistlebloom Garden Addicted

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    I also plant potatoes and since I'm in Idaho I just throw em out there and turn my back! Ha! Just kidding! I have less than ideal soil, no deep loamy stuff here and the ph tends toward neutral. I have 4" x 20" beds that I plant spacing the potatoes about a foot apart. I dig just a shallow trench to put the spuds in, backfill over them, then lay about a foot of straw on top of it all. As the vines grow up through the straw I add more to make sure that they don't get sun on the tubers ( very important, as Ridgerunner pointed out) Last year I ran a soaker hose under the straw(before piling it on) and that was a much better way to water them for me.
    With the straw you don't have much of a weed problem to deal with and harvesting is considerably cleaner. I have been amending the beds every fall with shredded leaves which adds the humus my soil needs desperately and I'm hoping it will lower the ph, but I haven't tested for that yet.
    Our favorite variety is hands down, Yukon Gold, it has a moister flesh than russet, and I prefer the taste. Fingerlings are also fun and I have found them to be productive. Last year I tried Purple Viking which out performed the Yukons, but the skins on some of them were rough and ugly. That was probably a cultural thing with my soil.
    I have bought seed spuds from garden centers, but my best success has always been from Ronniger's potato farm.
    (Shameless plug!) You can order a catalog or order online and they have such an enormous variety it's hard to choose just one.
    Go to ronnigers.com . They have a good growers guide in the catalog.
    As far as how much to plant, I just know that I never seem to plant enough. There's 3 adults, and we eat potatoes in some form nearly every day. I usually run out in January.( I think I plant about 15 - 20 lbs. of seed)
    I don't have a root cellar, so I store them in big Rubbermaid bins that I have insulated with that styrofoam sheet insulation, and these are in an uninsulated garage. So far it seems to work. I do go through them and check for rot frequently
    I hope some of this is useful. I love growing spuds, they are my favorite crop. Kids like to help with the harvest, at least mine did, it's like a treasure hunt!
    Well, have fun and good gardening! :coolsun
  6. Jan 6, 2011
    lesa

    lesa Garden Addicted

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    Last year was my first try at potatoes! I loved growing them and loved eating them. As Steve said, the ability to dig a few new potatoes during the summer, was a real treat! I did not try to store any- I canned all mine with my super duper new pressure canner!!! This works great! Dh was sure he hated canned potatoes- let me tell you, he doesn't think that anymore! It is so handy to have these in the pantry. I am really looking forward to spring, so I can plant more. Particularly enjoyed the fingerlings, but the red potatoes were delicious too. I ordered from the Maine Potato Lady- she has organics...
  7. Jan 6, 2011
    sonjab314

    sonjab314 Chillin' with the herd

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    Well thats it. I've decided I'm gonna have to make my garden bigger lol. Thanks for all the info. It gives me a lot to "chew" on and some ideas to research. After reading all the comments on Yukon Gold, that is one variety I will definately keep in mind.
  8. Jan 7, 2011
    Bubblingbrooks

    Bubblingbrooks Leafing Out

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    We grow ours in piled up leaf mulch, old hay and straw.
  9. Jan 7, 2011
    LVVCHAP

    LVVCHAP Attractive To Bees

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    sonjab314,
    I read an article quite a few years ago about raising potatoes and until I find a way that I feel is better I am going to stick with it. It may or may not work for you.

    All my garden beds are 4 ft. wide. I take an area 8 ft long and place the seed potatoes on top of the ground in that area. They get covered with about 6 in. of compost.

    I then place wire fence around the outer edge - 18 in high. When the potatoes begin to grow I cover lightly with leaves several times until it is too thick to get around the plants.

    When the plants die off I fill the area with leaves and leave them until I am ready to harvest some. I only harvest what I need. All you do is pull the leaves and compost back and lift them out.

    The leaves keep them from freezing so you can leave them in the ground all winter. I am going to get more over the weekend.

    The first pic is the first covering with leaves and the second is in July. It is the bed on the left of the white bucket, you can see how thick the area is covered with plants.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
  10. Jan 7, 2011
    cwhit590

    cwhit590 Garden Ornament

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    Best of luck with your spuds, sonjab!

    I've grown red potatoes (not sure what variety) for the last two years and I've had great luck with them so far....very easy crop for me....and delicious too! All I do is plant, keep them watered and hilled up, and watch out for potato beetles till the plants die back.

    I do have a question for you experienced spud growers...when you are planting the seed potatoes, if they have multiple eyes or sprouts coming out of them, are you supposed to thin the sprouts or let them all grow? does it affect how the potatoes turn out? like will you get bigger potatoes if you thin out the sprouts?
    I just plopped the potatoes in the ground this year and let them grow, but it seems like some plants were very bushy, and others just had a few stalks...and when I harvested it seemed like certain clumps had large quantities of small/avg sized potatoes, while others had bigger potatoes in smaller quantities...any correlation?

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