Vegetables and Fruit forum: How do you fertilize your potatoes?

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Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Jun 14, 2015 5:46 AM CST
This is only my 3rd year growing potatoes. I am looking for tips on fertilizing them. I put in about 25 yukon golds, each year, and the plants have always looked very healthy, but they don't always make a lot of potatoes. Usually anywhere between 3 and 5. I have them in a deep raised bed with good soil, and have usually only fertilized a few times with Drammatic - K, a fish kelp fert. Should I be bumping up the potassium even more?

I dig them in really deep, about 12", then fill in behind them as they grow, and hill up the soil a bit when they get above ground.

I may be planting them to close together, but they never seem to be crowding each other out (about a foot apart, which is what I saw recommended for Y.G.'s))
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Jun 15, 2015 3:03 AM CST
Geof, Other then some good old compost and a small amount of bone meal, I don't use anything else, and have had good results. Hilling them seems to help increase the amount of production too, and I see your doing that. Now if it just holds off raining again, I need to get mine hilled.
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Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Jun 15, 2015 3:50 AM CST
Thanks Tom - I should have thrown some bone meal in when I planted - but I have also heard that bone meal actually takes a year or two to break down enough for plants to use it. I'll give them some low nitrogen fert, and just hope I get a better crop this year.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Jun 15, 2015 6:07 AM CST
Yukon Golds aren't as prolific as some other varieties here. Last year I had some hills of them that had only a few as well, and others had a quite a few, but most other varieties out produce them here. I'm trying German Butterballs this year. I also have a few Yukon Golds and some Red Pontiacs.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Jun 15, 2015 6:16 AM CST
I found some pictures of last years harvest.


Yukon Gold best hill
Thumb of 2015-06-15/tveguy3/2bb5a9
Yukon Gold Smallest hill

Red Pontiac best hill
Thumb of 2015-06-15/tveguy3/6598b6
Red Pontiac smallest hill
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Jun 15, 2015 8:19 AM CST
I was planning on trying something new, but I already had these. There was a last small harvest that I was storing, and the mice got to them, so we really didn't want to eat them. I just left them and they started sprouting this spring, so it made sense to just go with them. Thanks for the pics - the red pontiac look good.
Name: Gina Young
White Hills, AZ (Zone 9a)
"Man does not live by bread alone..
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GinaY86441
Jun 20, 2015 1:05 PM CST
Hello Experienced potato farmers!

I'm getting ready to try my luck with potatoes this year. I prepared my bed with potting soil, sand, straw and rabbit manure in March, but have yet to plant. Because I'm in AZ, it looks like I will be able to get them in the ground in just another couple of weeks. I'm wondering if you have any advise for me? I have the Pontiac Red seeds and plan on sectioning them out before planting. Is bone meal that important? Does it provide calcium to the soil? I have chickens and wonder whether it'd be wise to plant the seeds with eggshell?

Thank you for any tips you can give me. I would greatly appreciate it! Thank You!
Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Jun 20, 2015 2:18 PM CST
Gina - I am not the expert with potatoes, but I do know that Bone meal supplies P (phosphorous) which helps in root development. A high nitrogen fertilizer is good for lots of green leafy growth, which is not what you need with potatoes. So look for something that is low in N, higher in P & K.

Egg shells take a year or two to break down and make their calcium available to the plants, so adding them when planting doesn't make much sense to me. Toss them in your compost pile. I don't know that extra calcium is a must for potatoes anyway.

I know nothing about gardening in AZ, but in WI potatoes are planted as early as possible (when the ground thaws) I'm not sure how they will fare in AZ summers. Sweet potatoes like the heat.
Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Cookies4kids
Jun 20, 2015 3:12 PM CST
We have good luck with potatoes here as we have what is called black sand for soil. The Red Pontiac are our best potatoes by far. They have been good for fried, mashed and roasted and keep well all winter. Tom, my hubby would love to hear how you like those German Butterballs.
Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
Name: Gina Young
White Hills, AZ (Zone 9a)
"Man does not live by bread alone..
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GinaY86441
Jun 20, 2015 4:12 PM CST
Thank you for your response, Mandolls. I appreciate it. Yes, I will pick up some potato fertilizer next week. I am concerned about the time of year also, but I understand July is the time for this area... Although ATP suggests Sept/Oct. I don't know... Maybe I'll do half in July and half in September... A little experiment? LOL. Thanks, again!!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Jun 20, 2015 6:39 PM CST
Gina, do you know anyone locally that grows potatoes, or maybe you could contact your county extension service, for recommendations about when to plant? Although I'm also in a much different climate, somehow planting in July in zone 9 doesn't sound right to me...

Karen -- I grew the German Butterballs last year for the first time and loved them; they have a somewhat golden flesh (like Yukon Gold), and even the largest ones that I got (which were pretty darn big) were perfectly solid throughout, without any hollow brown centers. The skins are slightly rough ("russeted"), and this variety seems particularly excellent for mashed potatoes and was great for using in any way. They are my new absolute favorite variety!
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Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Cookies4kids
Jun 20, 2015 7:30 PM CST
Thanks, Sandy. I will pass that on to the potatoe guy in the family!!
Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
Name: Gina Young
White Hills, AZ (Zone 9a)
"Man does not live by bread alone..
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GinaY86441
Jun 20, 2015 7:48 PM CST
Hi Sandy,

Thanks for your input. You know, I've been utilizing and following ATP's gardening guide for all my planting season and they haven't let me down yet! Hurray! I looked at the guide again today and it does state a Sept/Oct planting. I can't specifically recall where I read July for potatoes, but I put it on my calendar.... Now I'm second-guessing if I just mis-read the guide? LOL... Well, this I do know... I certainly won't mind NOT PLANTING in the brutal heat! I haven't done potatoes before, so I wasn't sure if the potato was just a slow grower? We dedicated a raised bed for potatoes and now I'm learning that potatoes need to be rotated and not planted in the same bed each year. Do you find this to be true with your potatoes, Sandy?

Thanks again!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Jun 20, 2015 8:15 PM CST
Gina, to start with your last question first, I do rotate my potatoes and other stuff around, although pretty haphazardly, I'm afraid... Whether it's absolutely necessary, I can't say; but I figure it can't hurt, and different plants use different nutrients and different zone levels in the soil, as well as rotation can help suppress various disease.

As far as potatoes being a slow grower ... where I am I probably should have planted in mid April to early May, but actually planted June 5th this year; although I'll start harvesting small potatoes sometime in July, most will be dug in September.

Keep in mind that the temperatures here are still barely going above 70F (on a good day), and normally might hit the low 90s less than half a dozen times in the summer; the last two years, though, I don't think we've hit 90 at all, and have had very, very few nights over 70F (and this year seems to be shaping up to be more of the same). So I honestly just don't know how it works where you are -- learning to garden there would definitely be a whole new process for me!!

Also, going back to your original post, I don't know about the calcium, either; I pretty much only fertilize my potatoes with a layer of compost added as the plants start growing.

I hope you have great success with the potatoes, and experimenting with starting some sooner and some later can't hurt, in my opinion! Thumbs up
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Gina Young
White Hills, AZ (Zone 9a)
"Man does not live by bread alone..
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GinaY86441
Jun 20, 2015 8:26 PM CST
Sandy,

I'm going to give it a go... July and September. I rotate my crops in the main garden bed, but thought having a potato patch was the way to handle it. Guess I'll need another bed to at least alternate! Darn... Whistling Who knows, maybe my July potatoes will be good and large! I'll report back here when the time comes.

Thanks again for your input!

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