Potato cultivating....
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  1. #1
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    Default Potato cultivating....

    Since I was asked for some tips.

    I have been growing potatoes about 15 years non-stop now (the last run at the potatoes).
    Basically, got tired of store bought "organics" costing $$$.
    Before that, I was born onto a homestead and did not know of store bought potatoes until about 18 years old.
    Potato is the "second bread" for many Europeans, how can you do without.
    So, the potatoes.

    I do lots and lots of mulch; more the merrier (any organic waste over the plants; cardboard between the rows/plants; cardboard pinned down by mulch).
    I don't water.
    I don't hill (thick mulch layer takes care of that).

    I do lots of varieties (some names I don't even remember anymore) - the more varieties you do the merrier.
    same for the apples that I do, btw
    same the bees that I just now learn how to do sustainably (not industrially)
    variety of lines at all times is your insurance - have to have the potatoes no matter how the summer turns out (wet/cold or hot/dry)

    Place some fertilizer along-side the tubers (when planting).
    Collect the potato beetles by hand.
    Keep the potatoes in ground until the hard freeze in forecast (then dig them up and store in cardboard boxes in the garage; mix in some paper shreds for storage).
    Though, I would keep some potatoes directly in ground (they do great in ground); but I rent the land for the potatoes in a community garden - hence don't leave them there for winter.
    About it.

    This is the half-patch, spring 2019, typical for me (other gardeners fill the compost bin on the background with their garden waste for me to use):
    20190618_201422.jpg
    Last edited by GregV; 06-19-2019 at 01:18 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Lilburn, GA, USA
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Thanks Greg!
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  4. #3
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    Feb 2017
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    Byron, Il, USA
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Potatoes are just fun to grow. Most years I grow some, but 3 years ago I went overboard and we had hundreds of pounds on the floor of the basement and my wife said "NO MORE!".
    Great thing about potatoes is they are so easy. I have planted them into hard heavy clay and gotten decent returns. And home grown potatoes taste better.

  5. #4
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Dang it! You guys have got me thinking about the unused garden I have out back and that I easily buy 200-300 pounds of potatoes every year. Would oak leaves work as mulch or are they too acidic? I read once that potatoes love pine straw.

    I bought a bushel of sweet potatoes a few years ago and canned them. Still have a few jars left.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Quote Originally Posted by AR1 View Post
    ....... And home grown potatoes taste better.
    +100.
    Absolutely.
    When they grow the potatoes in industrial ways, they apply too much fertilizer and too much water (obviously).
    The spuds grow big and taste like crap (no taste to speak of), as a result.
    Best to NOT over-fertilize/over-water them and go for average size tubers and on a drier side - the best potato.

    For now we are out of own spuds and have to buy some.
    Really are missing the real stuff.
    I don't even want to eat the store potatoes - taste-less surrogate.

    We basically grow enough for a family of 5.
    Lasts us about 9-10 months in a good year.
    Storage becomes an issue the weather turns warm.
    I also just use my own seeds mostly anymore (just save few boxes aside for planting).
    Minimal expense - does take some sweat equity; a great work-out as for me.
    Last edited by GregV; 06-19-2019 at 10:14 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Dang it! You guys have got me thinking about the unused garden I have out back and that I easily buy 200-300 pounds of potatoes every year. Would oak leaves work as mulch or are they too acidic? I read once that potatoes love pine straw.

    I bought a bushel of sweet potatoes a few years ago and canned them. Still have a few jars left.
    The oak leaves are fine, if acidic not much.
    Pine needles could be acidic BUT potatoes like it slightly acidic (pH about 5-6 is fine)
    Not a worry.

    In all, the store potatoes give you russet, yellow and red potatoes (just like applies - red, yellow, green).
    But if grow your own, choices are hundreds of varieties.
    Easy to exchange the planting material with others too.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #7
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    Dec 2008
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    syracuse n.y.
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    potatoes are my IPM crop, everything likes to munch on the leaves, so I only have to spray them to get the invaders.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Whew, finally finished the potato & pumpkin planting - 3 weeks past normal time.
    Very, very late start this season due to several reasons.
    20190620_173532.jpg
    20190620_162701.jpg
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
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    613

    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Dang it! You guys have got me thinking about the unused garden I have out back and that I easily buy 200-300 pounds of potatoes every year. Would oak leaves work as mulch or are they too acidic? I read once that potatoes love pine straw.

    I bought a bushel of sweet potatoes a few years ago and canned them. Still have a few jars left.
    if too acidic just add some lime.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    I really need to get the soil tested. Been burning a lot of old wood and leaves in the garden and that usually ends up making the soil alkaline. I used to spread pelletized lime on the yard and garden evey two years back when I cared. Trying hard to get rid of a case of dongivahootitis.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  12. #11
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    Byron, Il, USA
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    I use a lot of oak leaves and also fireplace ash. Potatoes seem to do fine.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Normal fireplace ash is good.
    Potassium.
    Potatoes (and most all roots) like and need potassium.
    The potassium (and ash in general) does not add to a the soil acidity.
    Typical wood ash is rather basic.
    Typical soil is rather in the acidic range (hardly ever basic).
    I would not worry about the ashes (nothing but good from the natural ashes - at about 99% chance).

    After 15-ish years of running the 'tatoes, I feel it is getting old, and said so to my spouse.
    Been a bad potato year.
    Maybe few in the backyard, in between the bushes and in the compost pile, just for the taste reference.
    Need a break.

    The apple trees should make up the slack heftily (no tilling/no lifting at that).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Good to know about the ashes. Had not considered the K component. Years ago I ran a bunch of potassium that I got from my work on some root crops. Banner year for the beets and the carrots.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Normal fireplace ash is good.
    Potassium.
    Potatoes (and most all roots) like and need potassium.
    The potassium (and ash in general) does not add to a the soil acidity.
    Typical wood ash is rather basic.
    Typical soil is rather in the acidic range (hardly ever basic).
    I would not worry about the ashes (nothing but good from the natural ashes - at about 99% chance).

    After 15-ish years of running the 'tatoes, I feel it is getting old, and said so to my spouse.
    Been a bad potato year.
    Maybe few in the backyard, in between the bushes and in the compost pile, just for the taste reference.
    Need a break.

    The apple trees should make up the slack heftily (no tilling/no lifting at that).
    If you want to try something, Grapes are a trail to ride on.
    Fairly quick to fruit
    fairly easy to propagate
    pruned vines can be used for crafts.
    a couple short work seasons, pruning and harvest.
    can have several "flavors"/ Variation
    Juice , fruit, Jelly, wine, several options for consumption. I guess one could dry up some Raisins, I would do the wine over the Raisins but I digress.
    With the apples, juice and Jelly varieties.

    Carry on
    GG

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    If you want to try something, Grapes are a trail to ride on.
    Fairly quick to fruit
    fairly easy to propagate
    pruned vines can be used for crafts.
    a couple short work seasons, pruning and harvest.
    can have several "flavors"/ Variation
    Juice , fruit, Jelly, wine, several options for consumption. I guess one could dry up some Raisins, I would do the wine over the Raisins but I digress.
    With the apples, juice and Jelly varieties.

    Carry on
    GG
    Well, I am a black currant guy.
    Got a hold of few Old World varieties (as sweet as grapes).
    Need to propagate more of these (should have time now that I decided to drop out of the community garden).
    The bonus - nothing really eats the black currants and they need not spraying (except robins - they will steal the sweat varieties).
    Can do anything with the black currant - eat fresh/freeze/juice/wine/jelly and similar products... endless.
    Cultivation is stupid simple - prune once per year and harvest.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #16
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    Sep 2018
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    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Well, I am a black currant guy.
    Got a hold of few Old World varieties (as sweet as grapes).
    Need to propagate more of these (should have time now that I decided to drop out of the community garden).
    The bonus - nothing really eats the black currants and they need not spraying (except robins - they will steal the sweat varieties).
    Can do anything with the black currant - eat fresh/freeze/juice/wine/jelly and similar products... endless.
    Cultivation is stupid simple - prune once per year and harvest.
    Do you know a good source for the old world varieties? I have ordered goose berries and raspberry's from the standard type Gurney catalog and they more or less croaked.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    Do you know a good source for the old world varieties? I have ordered goose berries and raspberry's from the standard type Gurney catalog and they more or less croaked.
    Forget Gurney.
    Generic junk.
    I have wasted enough time in this department; here are my better choices now days.


    Good source #1.
    Go here:
    https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/search.aspx

    Search "black currant" (or any other plant variety, say apples).
    Select varieties (something originating from the Old World - I recommend former USSR countries - they really had great selection programs going, until the USSR failed apart).
    Add to Cart (it was free the last time I did it - this project is taxpayer funded, so should be free or cheap).
    Order (do it now - the deadlines are approaching).

    Reason to order is required - select something reasonable.
    I have done this to get my materials (which is a true reason; outside of getting the good berry, of course):
    Intended use of material:
    Research: Varietal Development
    Research use notes:
    Planning to investigate sustainable winter hardiness of these varieties on different root stocks in South Central Wisconsin, USDA zone 5a.
    Submit.
    Make sure to get the order confirmation by email (I have asked them related questions by email also; and they responded).
    Wait until later winter/early spring for your materials.
    Be prepared to store them properly until ready to plant/graft.

    Good source #2.
    http://www.whitmanfarms.com/
    I just hope this "crazy" lady keeps doing what she has been doing (special and unique collection).
    Not a generic "Gurney" type.

    Good source #3.
    https://stlawrencenurseries.com/
    I love their paper catalog, I have 2-3 copies in paper (I download the PDF every year too).
    Highly recommend getting it - just for the general information.
    Unfortunately, the original owner has since retired (but new owners persist the same, good ways).

    Now is the time to start lining up 2020 season (I am sure you knew this - this is really a reminder to myself).
    Last edited by GregV; 10-21-2019 at 10:42 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Potato cultivating....

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Good to know about the ashes. Had not considered the K component. Years ago I ran a bunch of potassium that I got from my work on some root crops. Banner year for the beets and the carrots.
    Sure.
    Only makes sense.
    The proportional representation of N in the soil is also important.
    Too much N available (with respect to K) - will hurt the root crops (they just go into the green mass).
    N is generally no needed in root veg projects.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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