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From a start on a fertile patch of ground last year that used to be part of the chicken pen the 'no till' potato garden began with the use of grass clippings collected behind a garden tractor is a sweeper attachment as shown.





Then, this past spring (about April 30) the mulch pulled aside to plant certified potato seed at ground level. Then covered over with mulch and we wait to see what pops up.

curing potato sets for a day in the greenhouse before planting:



Planting the potato sets under the mulch that was setting over winter:









First plant early June and after some more came up, further grass clippings mulch was placed around the plants to about a 12 inch deep layer.
 

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This was a picture of the growth and beginning flowering around the first week of July.





Harvesting new potatoes mid July this year:

The mulch is pulled back to reveal small tubers, which a few are picked, and then the mulch pushed back to allow maturing the tubers under the mulch.





The first new potatoes to try and sample. The red ones are 'Superior' and the white ones are 'Norland'. :)

 

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nice work moonwolf.

this was my second year growing potatoes after a long break since childhood. i decided to use dirt hilling this year. last year i began a two 35 ft. row mulched potatoe patch. i ran out of mulch and many of my potatoes got sunburned. those that had adequate mulch were awesome. (shameless picture boasting from last years crop will follow, lol) anyhow, this year things were looking really good. we had near drought conditions and very hot weather in june. having high hills of dirt made irrigation difficult. in general, after a test dig two days ago, i estimate that i will have the same yields on 70 ft. of dirt hilling as i had with a properly mulched 20 feet and 55 feet of paper thin mulch that degraded. my potatoes this year are smaller, but because my dirt hilling didn't degrade like my neglected mulch last year, i have 70 ft. of nice looking potatoes, even if they are small.

so, and forgeting about the less work from no digging aspect, i conclude that that mulching and leaving the garden flat would have retained much more moisture and i would have had a bumper crop compared to hilling and fighting to get things watered. it was good to compare the two methods, but i will try very hard to scrounge mulch materials for next year's crop. i think mulching is an awesome way to go.

last year's mulched potatoe

 

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Nice potato patch moonwolf! Thanks for posting your pictures. :)


MELOC, that's a nice big one!
Looks like a turtle, bet you could have sold it on ebay. :)
 

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My dad was the potato grower.He would be amazed by your patch.Beautiful!!!!!!!! He was always so proud of his garden and so should you be! -Robin
 

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MELOC,

It's not actually that big of a potato patch.....5 rows each being 25 ft.
I don't know yet what the main harvest will be. I used to till and cultivate between rows to hill potatoes with dirt and like anything else about gardening, it depends on what your soil can bring to the plant also. Mulching by the deep clippings I use will still depend on soil fertility, nutrients and such, to determine what the harvest outcome will be. I do find that there is good moisture down at the root level below the mulch, but I also wonder in times of very heavy continual rains whether that could cause some problems. We had heavy downpours, but eventually it soaks down and the plot is on a slight slope that helps. It also takes a LOT of mulch to build up even such a small plot. I've brought many sweeper loads to build it up to what is seen in the pictures, and still piling mulch for both weed suppression and cover tubers. I think when deciding to go 'no till' , the big consideration is 'source' for mulch, because a little won't do it. lol. Mulch might sound like a good idea, but it also can be an intensive undertaking to get that much of it to your garden. Whether you sweep your acres of lawn, or find a large source of leaf litter, or whatever. You still have to manage the mulch in some fashion. That takes some energy, fuel, and time even though mulching sounds like a good idea.
One thing you should try to do for some mulch close by is if you are growing corn. Chop down those corn stalks and run them over with a mower, or shred them for both adding fertility to your potato soil. Pine needles work good too if you have a source close by. Buying straw wasn't an option for me, even as much effort I put into getting tons of grass clippings. So, I wouldn't say mulching or 'no till' is the 'end all' for potato growing.
 

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Beautiful! I have a couple of questions.

1 - When the grass clippings heat up, do you do anything special to prevent damage to your vegetable plants?
2 - We have flea beetles something awful. My potato leaves end up looking like lace. Do you treat for pests and if so, what do you use?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
thanks for the interest and compliments, etc.
I'm no gardening expert, but some things do work well for me, some don't. lol
Having a good camera that can show these makes a big difference, too. Seems I have a 'habit' of showing outdoor photos, so I thought this way of showing the potato growing might be of interest, and glad that some people agree.

WIHH,
Yes, it's nice to get cleaner potatoes from the mulch rather than having them heavily dirt coated at harvest.

susieM,
To tell the truth, I never have read a Ruth Stout book, and only have heard of her well after I got into my gardening 'ways'. lol. However, I have heard of her since. Mulching really has been around in nature if you thing about how anything grows with the seasons dead plant biomass being utilized for the growth in following seasons. Extending that concept to thicker applications for the garden and purposely selecting what we want to grow as garden plants is 'where it's at'. lol

ginsengSally,
yeah, I screwed up with the names. lol. This just proves I'm no potato 'expert'. I planted half a row with the norlands which are RED. Then I planted the rest of the row with Superior, which are WHITE. (hope I got that straight, now. lol) . But I labelled the row backwards. I never grew either variety before. I have grown Yukon Gold which I'm looking forward to harvesting in the other 3 rows.

turtlehead,
I haven't had any issues about using fresh green grass mulch. The growth of the potato plants prove there isn't any 'burning' or heat problems. I think it's not that critical. I've put fresh grass clippings mulch in all areas of the garden without any detrimental effects. Some books say to dry it first, and so forth. :shrug:

flea beeetles? .... knock on wood so far. No problems with ANY pests, including colorado beetles. I did grow potatoes in this patch once before, and was worried about recurring pests. Maybe the mulch actually deters some of that.
There are a few grasshoppers around, though I don't notice them bothering the potato plants.

This week, since the plants keep growing up taller, I'm adding another several inches of clean dry clippings mulch, and if it dries down a bit more with no rain this week, they'll get a dousing of compost tea for a little boost maybe see if that gets some bigger spuds, or 'turtle' spuds. lol.
 
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