We want to do a fat crop of potatoes and yams this year and we are totally confused by the info we have been able to glean online.  Some people say just throw them in a stack of hay and others say be sure they have shade..yada yada yada..

 

Any root crop folks in this group?

 

Thank you!

Daniel & Darlene

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Potatoes are simple. You need to start with good soil, which has been amended with compost that is forked in 8-10" into the soil and fertilized as you would any other veggie crop. Plant untreated seed potatoes in the loosened soil 12" apart and lightly cover with a 1" layer of soil. Once the green shoots poke out of the soil several inches, add a thick but loose layer of straw and water it all. Keep adding layers of straw as the leaf shoots continue to grow, keeping the stems covered from light. When the tops begin to brown and shrivel you'll know that the potatoes are ready and you can knock the whole stack over and pull the spuds from the straw. Some folks often grow their spuds in stacks of old tires, adding extra tires and straw as the foliage gradually gets taller. You can also use a trash can with the bottom cut out if it, or do what I do: score free wooden "mini" pallets from the fire log store and screw them together to make stackable wooden bins. The key to remember is that the seed potato needs to root into the soil -- that's where the plant will get its nutrients from during the growth cycle. Planting them in a stack of hay doesn't make sense as there isn't much nutritive value in a bale of straw. The shade part is important: keep he sun off the stems from which the potatos grow. If you don't, you'll wind up with green potatoes which are toxic. In abundance! Paul

Thank you Paul!  This is the clearest directions we have seen.  Looking forward to seeing you soon!  Would love your help at the GreenLife EcoFestival - call us okay :-)

Cheers

D&D

I Agree with Paul - great post!  Problem I've always had is with critters eating and nibbling at potatoes.  .. just saw someone growing about 10 plants with vertical fence stock inside a car tire as a base...  works pretty easy... keeps critters from gnawing and digging them up..keeps em warm... and you just tilt the fence to harvest.  I've grown them in part  shade.  I've found  potatoes are pretty 'bullet-proof' ... I usually just buy good quality organic supermarket potatoes and cut off the 'eyes' on all corners and plant them.. way cheaper than buying 'plantable' potatoes.

 

http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Potatoes-in-a-Wire-Cage

Yes, Plant untreated potatoes.  It is common to treat potatoes so that they don't sprout so use organic potatoes.  Here in Sonoma County I plant in mid-March or later.  I cut the potatoes in half or thirds if they are large and wait a day or few hours so the cut can dry.  That helps prevent rotting.

I plant about six inches deep.  I mulch with finished compost as I have it available.  This is what I do to any uncovered soil in my growing beds.  Straw can be used as a mulch, but straws is consumed by bacteria that take nutrients from the soil while they work on rotting the straw. Finished compost protects the soil while giving nutrients.  This mimics what nature does with layers of old leaves and grasses from last year on the soil surface with the new plants above.  Sustainable gardening is based on simple principles that copy nature.

I keep the plants watered and harvest when the plants turn yellow and dry up. 

I left some in ground all winter and some of them were not good for eating.  They were watery and didn't taste right.  Perhaps they came from a part of the garden that got too cold for proper storage.  I will definitely harvest sooner next year as we did have tasty purple and brown potatoes.  I have some red potatoes in the ground this year.  I think they will be easier to see and harvest than the purple and brown ones that blend with the soil.

 

As with all root crops potatoes like loose soil. They grow upwards producing up to 20 new potatoes above the seed potato. Potatoes are typically grown in windrows but i think potato towers are cool. check out this video. this woman does a phenomenal job presenting this concept.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-0naLDO5yc&feature=related

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