potato experiment

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by moopups, Mar 16, 2004.

  1. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    After seeing potatos grow under a bed of straw without being planted I am trying to duplicate that method as an experiment. So I placed about 30 eyes right side up and covered them with straw, will add mulch as needed, anyone else had any luck with this method?
     
  2. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I tried something similar, but I did something wrong. I planned to keep adding mulch and soil on top as the potatoes grew. Unfortunately, no matter how careful, I ended up breaking the tender shoots when I added stuff on top. My long narrow rectangle box was not the best container. I had difficulty containing the pile. It was also a pain keeping a big bale of straw in my tiny garden.

    Please report your results. I know its a good way to get more potatoes in a small space. I would love to learn what I did wrong.
     

  3. stonerebel

    stonerebel Well-Known Member

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    The biggest problem you will have is that potatoes are suppose to grow under the dirt. When you place just straw on top they are not going to take root and will not get the benefit of the soil and it nutrients to grow a healthy potato. Yes they will take off rather quickly but will eventually die. The same goes for an onion it will do the same thing but they both need dirt on top of them to continue to grow.
     
  4. Steve L.

    Steve L. Well-Known Member

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    moopups wrote-
    "anyone else had any luck with this method?"​
    I tried it once about 25 years ago, and it worked ok. If I remember right, I tilled, then pressed the seeds into the tilled soil eyes down (so the roots would contact the soil sooner), and then covered with about 12" of straw that I'd salvaged from a strawberry planting at work.

    I didn't add any straw after that, and didn't have many weeds emerge. I had a few green potatoes, but the biggest problem was mice eating the tubers prior to harvest.

    I never did it again, mostly because because I never had a good (cheap) source of straw again.
     
  5. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Eyes down? The eyes become leaves, not roots. And I did say I would be adding mulch as needed so the potatoes will be underground as they grow. Will leave only 2 leaves showing at any time. Also have found that if you let them become very dry and shrivled before planting, they seem to take root quicker withj adequate watewr after planting.
     
  6. Steve L.

    Steve L. Well-Known Member

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    "The eyes become leaves, not roots."​
    Must be you've never been curious enough to dig up a potato after it's been in the ground for a week or two. The eyes grow into shoots, and roots form along those shoots where they have contact with the soil, particularly right around the base of the shoot (right at the eye). If you've ever looked at chitted potato seed, you'll see stubby green shoots and short pointed roots forming right at the eyes. My shoots had to grow through a foot of straw anyway, I figured it wouldn't hurt them to grow another inch or two to get around the seed mass.
    "the potatoes willbe underground as they grow"​
    :confused:

    Posted by moopups - Yesterday at 06:41 AM -

    "I placed about 30 eyes right side up and covered them with straw"​

    Won't that place them at the soil/straw interface, not 'underground'?
     
  7. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    I've grown potatos under straw, but I covered the plantings with dirt and let them grow until they had nice big plants, then mounded hay up around them and wet it down well. I kept piling on hay as the plants grew and they made nice potatos.

    However, rats invaded my garden and ate as many potatos as I did. Had to go to war with rat poison. They tunnelled into a terrace at one end of the garden and made themselves at home, eating anything they wanted until I killed them all. From now on my potatos grow underground. Once you let them get started rats can tunnel underground too.
    Ox
     
  8. Mitch,

    You are the ultimate of OY VEY.

    Y'know... there's stupid and there's STUPID!!!
     
  9. Ox..;

    Did you ever think of growing them in the traditional way? It's muich easier!!!!!!!

    How stupid can people be, to succub to these dingalng systematic morphs
     
  10. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Unregistered, you are so brave behind your mask!! Maybe you are not aware that I have degerating knees and am looking for a less labor intensive method to garden; or do you just have to strike out at superiour people?

    Vescere bracis meis!
     
  11. The Funny Farm

    The Funny Farm Active Member

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    Hi Moopups,
    You posted some info for me on my thread about grapevines a few weeks ago. I just wanted to say my right knee is pretty well gone and so we are trying potatoes under straw this yr too. It seems better than trying to dig them out of the clay soil we have here. Potato eyes don't cost a lot so if they fail what have we really lost except time? Anyway, my mother(shes trying it too) read somewhere to go to Lowes and buy that black temporary retaining mesh- it comes with the posts already attached. Its the stuff they use when they want to hold back a hillside thats slipping. (Now I'm confusing myself :haha: ) Its about 18-24 inches high with pickets every few feet. Loosen the soil in your "row" about 2ft wide by however long, run the retainer down both sides, plant and cover eyes with hay or straw. Supposably when you harvest you just drop the sides and pick up the taters. (Sorry for getting so long-winded!!) Let me know if you think it might work!! Kathy
     
  12. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    We planted our potatoes with straw and soil. Either we left the plants too long or added too much straw and soil because the grubs ate the potatoes. Also the ones we did eat were very small and badly misshapen. This year we will plant the whole potato and won't add anything but the soil.
     
  13. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    Mitch, I think the problems with rodents or insect pests having too ready access to the potatoes is real. May I suggest instead that you get yourself a labour-saving device - perhaps a small tractor. :)

    Dig a trench with your new workmate (just to get soil). Pile the soil in a row beside the trench, then plant the potatoes underground on the far edge of the pile from the trench. As the potatoes grow, hill them up, using the soil from the pile. When they've finished, harvest by knocking the pile (now moved over the potatoes) over towards and then into the trench, picking out potatoes as you go.

    Note that you don't have to harvest all at once. Potatoes keep well in the ground. You can burrow into the side of a pile like this while the potatoes are still growing, worm out a few potatoes, then fill the hole again. You can keep this up for months, then when you do a final harvest just do a few feet of row each day.

    While the trench is open, add fertiliser to it. Cow manure, maybe compost those water hyacynths. Next season it will make a good place to grow something else.
     
  14. [/FONT]


    I too am trying this method for the first time. Let me share what I have found:
    Lazy Bed Potatoes - place seed potatoes, cut side down, twelve inches from the sides and ends, 12 inches apart in each direction. Press down firmly in the soil - do not bury - and spread a layer of straw. Loose straw should be spread at 12-18 inches thick. I personally felt like that was way too much, so I'm trying about 8-10 inches. However, the reason for so much mulch is because it is too difficult to add additional mulch once the plants have come up and spread. Supposedly you only need to sprinkle some soil on top, to keep the straw from blowing away - or you could wet it down real good. It's suppose to take about 20 days to sprout. Mine have been in the ground about 11 days. I'm not expecting to see them above the straw for another 3-4 weeks. Please post how yours do. It's fun trying something new! With my garden space, about 15x15, I usually can only fit about 10-12 potato plants, among everything else. This method allowed me to have 24 plants! Hope it works!
     
  15. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I have done it with good results, but I found out that I did not have enough mulch to top the spuds off with so I ended up with some green ones. The straw DOES pack down as the season goes on.

    I planted mine in earth this year, because I do not expect to have enough mulch this year, either.
     
  16. revontulet

    revontulet Well-Known Member

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    This may be easier. I plan on trying this way myself.
    THE CAGE METHOD

    Grow a few potato plants, each or in their own woodn box, crib, barrel or wire cage. The container should be about 18x18 inches at the base, about 24-30 inches tall, and able to be gradually filled with soft soil or mulch as the vines grow. Set each container atop a well-prepared fertile soil. Plant one strong seed piece and cover lightly with 4 inches of soil. As the vines grow, gradually fill the container with mellow compost, mulch or soil, but always make sure you don't cover more than one-third of the vine's new growth. With some varieties, the underground stolons which produce potato tubers keep on forming new ones for some time. In containers the yield may be increased 200-3000 percent compared with open-field culture. This is a great way to grow a lot of potatoes in a very limited space. We recommend doing this with Yellow Finn, Indian Pit, Red Pontiac, or the fingerling types. Watering requirements will be greater however, so check the cages or containers frequently in warm weather
     
  17. mtfarmchick

    mtfarmchick Well-Known Member

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    I tried using composted straw in tires. It worked pretty well. Just put the tire on the ground, fill with straw and bury the potatoes. Then as the potatoes grow, add another tire and more straw. Then when it's time to harvest just tip the tires over. You can avoid having tunneling animals get at your potatoes by putting somthing under the first tire.
     
  18. sugarspinner

    sugarspinner Well-Known Member

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    We have done this off and on over the years with varying results. Usually, we dig a trench just 3 or 4 inches deep, place the potatoes in the trench and cover with straw. It works. The potatoes are, mostly, under the straw but not very deep in the dirt if at all. After harvest, we till all the straw into the plot. One year I had access to bags and bags of shredded paper from my workplace. I used it with great success but the paper, when tilled in that fall seemed to dry the soil and made for a poor crop of anything there for a couple of years. NOrmally, I like to do the straw potatoes thing in an area where I've sprinkled wood ashes during the winter. Hope it works for you. Digging the spuds certainly is easier.