Vegetables and Fruit forum: Potato growing

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Name: Jared Nicholes
Post Falls, Idaho
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jnicholes
Feb 16, 2016 2:02 PM CST
Hello!

I'm from Idaho, the potato state, and I don't know how to grow them! Funny!

Anyway, I was on the Ask a question forum on a big discussion about potato growing, and one guy said this might be of interest to people on this section of ATP. So I ask the same question, how do you grow potatoes?

Thanks!

Jared

Name: Sally
Nichols, iowa (Zone 5a)
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billyporter
Feb 19, 2016 2:22 PM CST
Hi Jarad,
First you want to plant potatoes the size of a hens egg with one or two eyes. Some small potatoes can be planted whole, if not cut them up. Let them dry a few days before planting. Some dust with a fungicide. Potatoes like a slightly acid soil.
I'm zone 5a so I plant towards the end of April when the last freeze is over. If the ground can be worked it's ready.

I plant 4'' deep and 3' apart. As the potato grows, pull the dirt up around it to keep any potatoes that might try to grow thru the dirt, covered. If they do they will turn green and it can make you sick. We water in dry weather by making shallow trenches around the plants and flooding the trenches.

When they die back they are ready to dig

When you dig, stay a good foot away from the plant, use a fork and go deep. Lift it up and start looking for potatoes that might have fallen off the plant. Gently wash them and dry them in the dark. I put ours in the garage on newspaper with newspaper covering them. We turn them every few days.

For two people a good 2# is enough for us to eat and try to keep over the winter. I don't have a basement or root cellar.
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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
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Shadegardener
Feb 20, 2016 8:26 AM CST
I don't have a "basement" or root cellar - no where below 60 F, especially in summer. Any ideas for places to store them?
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Feb 20, 2016 7:50 PM CST
I store mine in the garage... pretty much not storing them in the summer at all, we dig them near the end of the summer, then let them dry, spread out on screens, for several weeks, and then store in paper grocery bags on shelves in the garage.

Or, if you have an extra refrigerator (like out in the garage or something), you could always set the temp a little higher than normal and store them in there until the weather gets cooler.
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Name: Sally
Nichols, iowa (Zone 5a)
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billyporter
Feb 21, 2016 7:49 AM CST
Cindy,
We have a small coat closet that gets pretty chilly, especially when the wind is in the north and west as it's on those walls. We even tape the bi-fold louvered door with painters tape along the opening and already had the inside bottom half taped up with plaxstic. It kept the potatoes and onions cool most of the winter.

For both, I store in plastic crates with air holes and put a newspaper between each layer. I push the onions back on a shelf so they don't sit right beside the potatoes.
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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
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Shadegardener
Feb 21, 2016 9:00 AM CST
Thanks for the great tips. I'll have to do some exploring for the coolest place around here.
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Feb 23, 2016 8:17 PM CST
Hi, Jared:

I garden in a relatively small suburban yard (with a very picky homeowners association). However, I've been growing potatoes for several years in 15 gallon smart pots. Potatoes can do well in large containers with a loose potting mix. I don't even have enough real-estate to let my vines sprawl, so I use double-ringed plant supports on the outside of my smart pots, and run a length of cheap plastic net-type fencing around the supports. My vines all grow up and stay contained, and I plant flowers outside so no one can complain. I use straw or mulched leaves to keep mulching up as the vines grow--you don't want your potatoes exposed to the light.

Potatoes are fairly heavy feeders, so keep that in mind, and need a consistant water source. There is a good guide to see how big of a seed potato to plant at http://www.potatogarden.com/

When the vines start to flower, you are starting to get baby potatoes, and can dig down to harvest some if you wish. Otherwise, wait until the vines start to dry back to harvest. Dig carefully so you don't damage the potatoes and they will store well. I keep mine in our basement, which is not terribly cool.

Do a little research to see which varieties are known to keep longer. Give it a try--you'll be hooked!
Name: Sally
Nichols, iowa (Zone 5a)
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billyporter
Feb 24, 2016 6:34 AM CST
Linda,
That is awesome!!
Yes, dry, then too much water will give you a hollow spot in the middle of your potato.
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Name: Gene Smith
Greenville, SC (Zone 7b)
Mauldintiger
Mar 19, 2016 8:04 AM CST
Here's how I grow mine, lay them on the ground, eyes up and cover with straw, add straw again when the plant pops out. Check out my soil color after 2 yrs. of sheet mulching over red clay. I even gave my composter away and just pull back the mulch and put veggie scraps right on the ground.
Thumb of 2016-03-19/Mauldintiger/da6219

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 19, 2016 11:31 AM CST
That would definitely be an easy way to plant and grow them -- much better than digging trenches! How many straw bales do you end up using for a spot the size shown in your photo? (I already kind of feel like I'm crazy to grow them, because a lot of them are grown commercially locally and are really cheap to buy, so I'm not sure I could justify adding the cost of buying straw for the plants.)
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Name: Sally
Nichols, iowa (Zone 5a)
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billyporter
Mar 19, 2016 2:01 PM CST
Gene,
We get too much wind to use straw. It would all be over at the neighbors, but I sure like your method.

Sandy,
I have about 6 potatoes left from last year. I fried some the other day. We grow them because they taste good and we can, lol!
A small town has no secrets except itself
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
Mar 19, 2016 5:52 PM CST
That's why I grow them too, Sally -- I like growing varieties that aren't available in the grocery, and I like "going shopping" out in the garden! I still have some of my smaller German Butterball potatoes left to use up Smiling
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Mar 19, 2016 6:02 PM CST
Mauldintiger said:Here's how I grow mine, lay them on the ground, eyes up and cover with straw, add straw again when the plant pops out. Check out my soil color after 2 yrs. of sheet mulching over red clay. I even gave my composter away and just pull back the mulch and put veggie scraps right on the ground.
Thumb of 2016-03-19/Mauldintiger/da6219



I'm curious what kind of crop you get planting your potatoes this way. Both quantity and size? I'd guess you could just lift the straw and pick a few potatoes when you need some without having to dig up the plant. Smiling
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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
Mar 19, 2016 6:23 PM CST
Good question, Tom -- I'm curious about that as well.
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member Region: Indiana Dog Lover Container Gardener
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mom2goldens
Mar 19, 2016 6:28 PM CST
Also intrigued by this.....
Name: Dillard Haley
Augusta Georgia (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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farmerdill
Mar 19, 2016 6:39 PM CST
It works well. In my youth, when we had threshing machines and resulting big ricks of straw. It was common practice among farmers. It takes a very thick layer of straw (8-12 inches) and the potatoes grow in the straw. Old folks called it lazy bedding. They were only small patches for home use.
Name: Gene Smith
Greenville, SC (Zone 7b)
Mauldintiger
Mar 19, 2016 7:31 PM CST
Last year was a decent harvest, probably 4-5 lbs return or more per pound planted. Only problem I had with was a vole did some damage to some of the potatoes, eating a v shaped groove in the potato. I'm using straw again, and expect a good harvest. Going to plant some catnip to attract neighborhood cats to deal with the voles!
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Mar 20, 2016 4:18 AM CST
Catnip grows wild here and is kind of invasive, at least here it is. Maybe that's the reason so many feral cats hang out around here! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
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: Sally
Nichols, iowa (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Vegetable Grower Peonies Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Lilies Irises
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billyporter
Mar 20, 2016 5:32 AM CST
I harvest and hang catnip. Nothing like the fresh stuff to wow the cats :o)
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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Mar 20, 2016 10:06 AM CST
tveguy3 said:Catnip grows wild here and is kind of invasive, at least here it is. Maybe that's the reason so many feral cats hang out around here! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing


Now you have figured out the reason that you see so many cats at your place!! Hilarious! Hilarious!

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