Ask a Question forum: Update on tall potatoes

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Name: Britnay
Detroit Mi (Zone 6a)
Oh! What's that?! ....oops...
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1hugaholic
Sep 10, 2016 9:01 AM CST
Hi everyone.
So I posted a few weeks back about a super tall potato plant in the trash can. I harvested one of my containers today. However I was surprised to only have 6 potatoes from the entire plant.
I'm trying to figure out how and why such a tall plant only produced so little amount.
I have made notes on the progress from day one and everything I added to the soil. So if anybody needs info, I can provide it.
Any suggestions? Maybe the potatoes on the bottom rotted out before harvest? The potatoes I have were on the top layer.
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Sep 10, 2016 10:31 AM CST
That was why I suggested a container 18 inches deep. My potatoes have always grown in the top foot of soil but I was curious to know what would happen with your tall plant and tall pot.

I think your harvest was about right for one plant.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Sep 10, 2016 2:42 PM CST
Someone had asked you how much sun your plant had because it looked a little light starved. I have to agree.
Your answer was: "They normally get a lot of sun here. Not too much though." Potatoes want full sun. If there is a "not too much though", then there could have been more? More sun would produce more potatoes, as long as the potato is still happy. If you water every day, as you say, it wouldn't have a chance to wilt for dehydration.
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 8b)
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kittriana
Sep 10, 2016 8:05 PM CST
Tall plant, sun starved or too much nitrogen producing top growth and not fruits. Potatoes don't always have a set amount of taters they produce. We used to dig for the larger ones and not disturb the smaller ones so they could continue to grow. They look pretty what you do have.
kitt
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Sep 10, 2016 8:38 PM CST
I agree that it may not have had enough sunlight; but container-grown potatoes, for the most part, don't seem to produce very well. And, if the plant was still growing it may have produced more if left until it died back.
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Sep 10, 2016 9:04 PM CST
Britnay, how many pounds of potatoes did your extra tall potato produce?

Average is up to 10 lbs per plant. If you got 5 lbs. you should be happy. How did you do?
Name: Robyn
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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robynanne
Sep 11, 2016 5:13 AM CST
Yeah, my test this year to see if all the buzz on the Internet about growing potatoes up and harvesting the full length of the container was true had similar results. The plants clearly didn't grow roots along the whole stem even after having dirt built up. Yes, the plant grows up and it is fine, but it still grows the normal amount of potatoes. A normal harvest is 5 to 10 potatoes per plant.
My plan for next year is to use rich composted dirt, no hay or layers at all, and only add dirt once to build them up a little, but then let grow.
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 8b)
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kittriana
Sep 11, 2016 2:10 PM CST
A potato is a node on a root, the more roots, the more chance of taters. They dont grow down so much as they grow away from the parent and each other. For viability and survival of new plants
kitt
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 11, 2016 3:31 PM CST
kittriana said:A potato is a node on a root, the more roots, the more chance of taters. They dont grow down so much as they grow away from the parent and each other. For viability and survival of new plants


Not to be picky but, potatoes are grow on the ends of stolons, or stems, not roots.

Potatoes always form above the roots, never below
.
When you leave potatoes in the ground too long or just have a tuber that starts sending out roots, that is a separate plant from the original, not an extension of the original.

I have seen the ads proclaiming the wondrous benefits of container planting but have always been wary of them as potatoes like to spread out and no matter how much soil you put around the stem, only a small part of that plant will produce stems, or stolons that produce tubers.
Stolons like to go sideways not vertical.
I have planted 12 inches deep often and while I get a nice set of four to eight large potatoes I do not suddenly get , a dozen tubers rather than a normal amount.
Some years when I plant very wide, 18 inches between plants in a few rows, I still manage to spike one, no matter how far outside the plant I start to dig, as I said they like to go sideway not vertical.
At the same time professionals say if you want small tubers plant close together as potatoes do not like to be crowed and a container artificially crowds them.

Now there are exceptions to every rule but when I do get an extra large amount one or two are normal to large and the rest are from ping-pong ball to marble size and on occasion several very large ones and that is it.
I have found deep planting works better than hilling except that even with deep planting you will seem to get on occasion a floater that insisted on being at ground level and it is only one, rarely two, not a bunch of them.
As I plant in deep leaf mulch, up to sixteen inches deep, were it going to set potatoes higher up on the stem there would me more floaters than the ones exposed when the mulch finally goes away in late August to Sept.

I do not get potatoes all along the main stem, as if there is a floater, the next potatoes are several inches down but if you plant twelve inches deep you better make sure you dig twelve inches deep as sometimes the big ones, I want large potatoes are way down there and if yo do not want to cut them in half with your shovel you have to get below them.



[Last edited by RpR - Sep 11, 2016 7:16 PM (+)]
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Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 8b)
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kittriana
Sep 11, 2016 10:28 PM CST
RPR- you have the proper terms, but the soil they are grown in matters too. We dug ours with the tractor and a moldboard when the time was right, still found the upper ones by cracks in that black gumbo clay
kitt
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Sep 12, 2016 6:56 AM CST
good discussion and info.
I agree that for the conditions, that's a decent harvest. About what I've gotten several years of growing them in ground, less than ideal sun.
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Name: Britnay
Detroit Mi (Zone 6a)
Oh! What's that?! ....oops...
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1hugaholic
Sep 19, 2016 5:49 AM CST
Thanks for all the responses. This is all helpful. The plants itself would get approximately 8hours of sun a day. My extra tall one is still living so I haven't harvested it yet. Which is another thing I found interesting. I planted all the seeds the same day, and one container died already. So I harvested it, and this is the outcome. However, the second one is still very much alive. So odd! (same seeds too)
When I planted, I used Scott's organic top soil with manure and some regular top soil from the yard. As it grew, I added more organic top soil to it and any food scrapes like banana peels and such.
oh, and a random side note: I used the dirt as an extra layer around some old trees showing roots, and planted grass seed. It's already producing grass within it's first three days. lol. Must be super rich. I plan to use the other container's soil to fill in pot holes around the yard. lol!
Lord please let this seed not be a weed!
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 8b)
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kittriana
Sep 19, 2016 12:58 PM CST
Grass- throw seed, sprinkle in, run for the mower. Especially if it is in seasonal cycles.
kitt
Name: kathy
Michigan
Zone 4b, near St. Clair MI
katesflowers
Sep 19, 2016 6:06 PM CST
Hi Britney, I notice you are in Detroit ! Howdy neighbor. I love my Pontiac Reds, plant at least [2] 100' rows; wait to plant until the last full moon of June to avoid Colorado potato beetles, along with crop rotation. I notice the wetter the season the more/bigger the potato. Variety matters, too. Try different varieties, you may find very interesting results.
Katesgarden, zone 4b farm, st clair michigan.
"Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing." Shakespeare
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
Sep 19, 2016 6:43 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @Katesflowers !

The last full moon of June seems quite late for planting potatoes... even where I am we normally plant in April or May. But, I assume that's kind of the point of planting late in order to avoid the beetles? (I've never seen them in my garden, must keep that in the back of my mind in case I do!) Smiling
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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 19, 2016 7:25 PM CST
Weedwhacker said:Welcome to NGA, @Katesflowers !

The last full moon of June seems quite late for planting potatoes... even where I am we normally plant in April or May. But, I assume that's kind of the point of planting late in order to avoid the beetles? (I've never seen them in my garden, must keep that in the back of my mind in case I do!) Smiling

I agree.
If you wait that late here the ground will be too warm most years for a good yield.

I put in some extra potatoes in, in mid-june two years ago and they put out mostly two to three small potatoes per plant which is not a good yield.
Potatoes like cold ground for planting but once roots are set like warmer weather for the foliage.
If it works for you though Kate, well done.

Here is a page on the CPB that is good reading for anyone fighting the little suckers.
http://www.potatobeetle.org/overview.html



Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Sep 21, 2016 8:58 AM CST
Great crop for one plant !
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