Potential Potato Problem

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by menollyrj, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. menollyrj

    menollyrj Joy Supporter

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    This is my first garden, ever, and one of the problems I think I have is that our seed potatoes are planted too shallowly. We planted them at about 4 inches, and then the day after they were planted, it rained 3 1/2 inches in one night. My beds didn't totally disappear, but it did expose some of the potatoes, which we re-covered. However, I am certain that they are not at 4 inches. (Lesson learned #1: Plant potatoes at six inches...)

    In any case, I don't think we have enough dirt to hill 2 raised beds of potatoes, and was wondering what other things we could use. We have (black) wood mulch (purchased from Co-op) in abundance, but I'm worried about using it as it holds a lot of moisture, which could (?) cause rotting. Other things I've seen recommended here are straw or grass clippings or compost (which we don't have a ready supply of) or leaves (which we have A LOT of). I was thinking of layering leaves & straw or black mulch & straw. Any recommendations? We would really like to save our harvest... :help:

    -Joy
     
  2. 3ravens

    3ravens on furlough-downsized Supporter

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    About 8 inches total of straw/leaves should do it. If it's windy, spray it just a bit with the hose to dampen it. After it rains on it a time or two, it will compact some and not blow away. After your tater plants get 6-8 inches above the straw, put down another 6-8 inches.Do this several times until the straw is at least a foot thick. The idea is to keep sun off the forming taters. In the fall or after the plants die back, just rake off the straw and pick up your taters! You may have to pick some of them out of the straw. No digging!
    In fact, some folks don't cover the planting taters at all..... they just dig a 3inch deep trench, put the tater pieces every 4 inches or so, and cover with straw 8 inches deep.
     

  3. Abe R Crombie

    Abe R Crombie Well-Known Member

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    Joy,you can use most any kind of mulch.Your grass and leaves would work best,wood mulch will take Nitrogen from the soil as it breaks down.Wait until the plants are up enough so you can get about 6 inches of mulch around them.You can keep banking them every couple weeks or so.I use eel grass (seaweed)leaves,straw,grass clippings,things that will break down over the year and leave better soil for the next crop.
    I won't be planting potatoes here until the last week of May,still pretty cool and wet....Hope this helps,
    Abe
     
  4. menollyrj

    menollyrj Joy Supporter

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    If I add fertilizer, could I use wood mulch? I'm not "gung-ho organic" and would be willing to add nitrogen fertilizer... We plan to fertilize the potatoes anyway as that's the way my husband "has always done it." Thoughts?

    Thanks for the input on the straw/leaves...

    -Joy
     
  5. circlevranch

    circlevranch Well-Known Member

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    Hi there, maybe go to Wal-Mart and pick up some top soil in bags along with some peat moss and mix the two together and put over your hills of potatoes. If by chance someone is building a house near by you could ask them for a little of there black dirt they might just give you enough to do the job or you could offe to give them a couple dollars for it? I wouldn't use straw since that has weed seeds in it and the last thing you need is weeds in your garden. Good Luck
     
  6. Abe R Crombie

    Abe R Crombie Well-Known Member

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    If you are going to be adding fertilizer,I wouldn' worry too much about the bark(use as a last option) for potatoes I have grown them in only EEL grass and they do very well.They come out white skins when grown like this...Good luck,
    Abe
     
  7. menollyrj

    menollyrj Joy Supporter

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    I s'pose I could go to the co-op and buy compost/soil for $2 a bag, but I'm too cheap... If the purpose of the garden is to save $$, it pains me to spend more to grow 'em than I could buy the potatoes for at the store. (Did I mention that I'm cheap?) I can get straw (mostly weedless) for $2 a bale, and one bale will go a lot further than 1 bag of soil/mulch, and I have LOTS of leaves and bark mulch... We'll see. I'll keep you updated. Thanks again for all your input.

    -Joy
     
  8. menollyrj

    menollyrj Joy Supporter

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    Here's an update...FWIW...

    Remember that whole "cheap" thing... Well, I started looking around for something to use to hill the potatoes, and noticed that my neighbor up the road had a VERY large pile of horse manure in his pasture. I also remembered that the pile had been there for some time. So Monday, I went to his house and asked if I might have a truckload or two of it. And, after spending some time exchanging pleasantries, he said to come back Wednesday and get all I wanted. And then he apologized for the manure having some soil mixed in with it...

    Anyway, we got a load yesterday and it is beautiful. It is black and crumbly and has very little odor. DH was a little weirded out by the fact that he would be EATING potatoes grown in horse poo, but after considering that it would be at least 3 months before he'd eat any, he figured it wouldn't really be manure any more anyway. So we put almost the full load on one bed of potatoes last night, and the remainder of the load went on compost pile #2. Today we're going for another load (in DH's little 4x4 Nissan) to mulch the second bed of 'taters and to put on compost pile #1... I'll likely mulch over the manure/dirt with black wood mulch to keep weeds down, but I'm so tickled to have the potatoes hilled...

    Thanks for the advice!

    -Joy
     
  9. Ann Mary

    Ann Mary Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That great! Just for future reference though....never use fresh horse or cow manure around potatoes-it can give them scab. Makes them all rough and ugly and stays in the soil for a while. Yours sounds like it it very well composted. Good luck!
     
  10. greywolf

    greywolf Member

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    I have a problem with my potatoe's always getting those ugly scabs. I live on a large acreage so I have moved my patch to various locations. I have a six foot rotavator for the back of the tractor and work a garden all summer then plant the following season. All producing those ugly scabs, I have purchased new seed, tried seed from neighbours that all end up with scabs.

    Something in my soil that maybe causing this? (most likely) Havent planted yet this season but plan to in the last week of May. Is there something I could do in this short of time to try and produce some smooth skinned potatoes?
     
  11. rocket

    rocket Well-Known Member

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    There have been several posts around here about fighting potato scab with soil pH. If I remember right, you can add pine needles or peat moss to the planting bed to make the soil more acidic so that the scab can't affect your potatoes. But I don't remember just how acidic it needs to be.
     
  12. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Common scab may survive in any soil having a a pH of 5.5 or higher. At 5.2, one is assured of smooth clean tubers. Where the roots are growing doesn't matter. It's the tuber-producing zone that counts. One can mix a lot of peat moss or pine needles into that area to create a highly acidic buffer zone. Then you can grow scab-free potatoes even in alkaline soil.

    Martin
     
  13. wvpeach1963

    wvpeach1963 WVPEACH (Paula)

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    Never seen a garden you couldn't get some dirt from the row edges to make hills over potato's .

    Am I missing how this could be so?
     
  14. greywolf

    greywolf Member

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    thanks rocket Paquebot will add some pine needles into the soil and see what happens.

    thanks
     
  15. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wait! Is greywolf Paquetbot's wifey?
     
  16. ceresone

    ceresone Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'll still quote Ruth Stout--if youre getting weeds from hay or straw--pile more on it--it all rots down.
    been there--done that--
     
  17. menollyrj

    menollyrj Joy Supporter

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    Paula, we made our entire garden into 3' beds, so all the dirt from the walkways was already put up to make the bed. (We didn't use an edging of any sort.) The dirt left IN the walkways was hardpacked clayish soil, and has since been covered with newspaper and straw so I don't have to worry about grass in the path. (It also makes it nice because my shoes don't get all mucky when I walk in the garden after a good rain.) So, alas, no dirt to hill the 'taters with...until I visited my neighbor!

    -Joy
     
  18. city_grown

    city_grown Active Member

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    I planted some pototoes and now I have the root coming up with a green leaf like flower on the end should I keep covering it up? Very new gardener here.