It’s time to plant potatoes again.
Our previous potato patches were less than satisfactory. Though we reaped more than we sowed, it wasn’t a lot more. The “soil” at our previous location was truly terrible, and many of our potatoes were attacked by boring insects, got weird rot and scab issues, or simply failed to produce much of anything. Sometimes we’d plant a piece of potato and only reap one tuber from the effort. This in spite of fertilizing, mounding the soil and planting nice, big, widely spaced rows. We even staggered plantings through the end of January into March, hoping to hit the perfect sweet spot of timing in at least one of our attempts.
The soil is much better here, so we’re hoping for some decent yields. Our best performer at the previous property was Yukon Gold, but we’re not sure if that was a fluke, so we’re testing the four most commonly sold varieties in our area yet again.
They are: Yukon Gold, Kennebec, Red Pontiac and Red La Soda.
The ground has been fed with aged cow manure from our cows, as well as a sprinkling of wood ashes. I hope to mix up some Solomon’s Gold again – we just need to inventory what we have left and what we’re missing. It worked remarkably well on our previous test plot of vegetables, though it’s truly high effort to find all the ingredients and get them mixed.
We now have a secret weapon on the mixing, however. With our new property we ended up inheriting a small electric cement mixer. Instead of paying a child to pour buckets of amendments back and forth to mix them, we can now dump a large quantity of everything into the barrel of the mixer and let it spin for a few minutes, then dump everything out into a convenient sealed trashcan we can keep near the garden. The kids really didn’t like mixing all the dusty stuff, even with pay, so they won’t mind. In fact, they’ll probably love using the cement mixer once we show them how to use it.
We did find that our earliest potato planting last year did the best, so we went ahead and planted most of our potatoes over the last couple of days. We still have a box of live seed potatoes I saved from last year, so those will probably get stuck here and there through the Grocery Row Gardens as we find space.
Potatoes are one of of very favorite things to grow. They’re (usually) easy to grow, fun to dig, and of much better flavor than store-bought tubers.
Wish us luck.
Have you thought about trying to develop your own adapted variety with potato seed? I’m sure it would take a few years, and some space you probably want for other things, but it seems like it would be a worthwhile project!
I have, though the potatoes I’ve bought for seed have rarely ever seed true seed.
Last year was first time I ever lost a potato crop. We are in Foley on the Alabama coast. I planted in January, not too early for down here. We had one late chill scare. I followed Dick Raymond’s way of planting in a trench and mounding as the crop grows on. If you get a frost coming up to cover all the foliage by hilling them up. I barely covered all the foliage and never had any more. The temp did not even get under freezing. Been doing potatoes this way for around 20 years. Some years better than others, but that was the first year of losing the whole stinking crop. Never assume you have something mastered when it comes to gardening. The failures seem to vary from one crop to another as the years pass. Artichokes on the other hand are one I have yet to pull off in 8B. Decided this year would be my last attempt. Temps got down to 16 in December. Got some more started. If they do not make it, I am done with them. At least until another couple of years pass and I think up a different way to try them. Hate it. They are one plant I would love to try fresh from the garden.
what about the boring insects. I think I had tuber worms last year . ruined everything. have not found way to control them yet.
David, what do you think of this as an all-purpose soil conditioner? It’s a livestock supplement, but can also be spread at 50 lbs per acre. https://www.azurestandard.com/shop/product/outdoor-garden/animal-supplements/mineral-conditioner/mineral-conditioner/9208?package=GP200
Harbor Freight sells a light-duty mixer. Don’t own one. Just saying.