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growing potatoes as perennials

Chris Holcombe


Joined: Feb 22, 2011
Posts: 70
Location: Zone 7a Philadelphia
In the spirit of fukuoka I'm trying to eliminate unnecessary steps. They say to leave your white potatoes out in the sun to develop eyes before planting them. I've done this the last 2 years but also noticed something. The potatoes that I missed when digging show up in the spring anyways. So the question becomes, is this step needed at all? I'd imagine fukuoka saying no . Making things easy is important because I'm always busy with work
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
Chris,
I am going to say this is also based on your climate and gardening zone.In my area potatoes left to over winter turn into stinking mush...I never put my taters outside in the sun to develop eyes ,usually by the time we hit planting season here in Mt, our seed taters in the root cellar or in the garage are starting to sprout.Planting potato here is done in April...But hey in your climate it may make the potato planting time simpler..
I do however like to cut my taters and let them dry to keep them from rotting before they make it through the straw.This year we are trying something new in the battle of slug land by planting in containers.Normally we just lay down cardboard, toss a bit of compost on it throw the taters down and bury them in straw in the chicken wire baskets.But last year the slugs enjoyed a large part of the seed taters and the crop..which was a bummer.We never have to really dig them either that way since they are accessible for baby taters and fresh peas in cream sauce,,
Mary
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2401
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  73
Two weeks ago, I dug in the garden to make a hugelkutur bed where potatoes were planted last year and found one perfect looking one I forgot in the ground last year. I am not sure if it would have resprouted and produced more potatoes this year though.

One of my gardening books recommend bringing the potatoes to room temperature and exposed to light to coax them to sprout about 3 weeks before planting and to plant when the sprouts are about 3/4" long (2 cm).

Anybody has experience with leaving potatoes in the ground for them to re-seed themselves as for Jerusalem Artichokes?


Permaculture Kingston
Leila Rich
steward

Joined: May 24, 2010
Posts: 3680
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
    
  75
In my climate, if potatoes are left in the ground, they will come up again.
The argument against leaving them in is mainly about viruses. From what I know, most viruses don't have dramatic effects: production, tuber size etc just gradually decrease. I asked lots of questions about it here: http://www.permies.com/t/7700/organic-sustainable-practices/potato-virus#70275
Late blight's something to keep an eye out for, but I don't think leaving spuds in is an issue with that, it's more a combination of luck and maintaining air circulation. My potatoes are everywhere and I'd contain them in one area if I had another chance, so I could at least get at them if I needed to.
Here's my late blight thread http://www.permies.com/t/12124/organic-sustainable-practices/Late-blight#111417
Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
Chris Holcombe wrote:In the spirit of fukuoka I'm trying to eliminate unnecessary steps. They say to leave your white potatoes out in the sun to develop eyes before planting them. I've done this the last 2 years but also noticed something. The potatoes that I missed when digging show up in the spring anyways. So the question becomes, is this step needed at all? I'd imagine fukuoka saying no . Making things easy is important because I'm always busy with work


Chris, you arent too far from me and I think I would like to try what you did. Care to share how you got them to come back? What kind of soil, depth, did you mulch over winter, variety of potato etc. Thanks!


permaculture wiki: www.permies.com/permaculture
Varina Lakewood


Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
    
    1
Leila Rich wrote:In my climate, if potatoes are left in the ground, they will come up again.


In mine, too. That's about 5,000ft, alkaline clay-loam, windy, hot, mostly dry. Avg. temps in a year: -13F to 95+F.
Chance grown peas and beans are always very happy near my perennial (as in it comes back every year) patch of potatoes, which came from household compost, buried fresh. <laugh> I should dig them up this year and see if I get any potatoes. I know they do produce lushly around here, but so far, nothing but a few itty bitty ones of the ones we've tried. Haven't dug up my perennial patch in about three years.
L. Jones


Joined: Apr 29, 2012
Posts: 80
Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
Haven't grown them in years. This year I happened to have some majorly sprouted (in a dark cupboard, no sun required) eating potatoes, so I cut them up for seed. It was a totally absurd business - some of the sprouts were 6" long, some of the chunks were tiny sections of fingerling potatoes, and a long time passed between cutting them up and getting them in the ground. They were stored at room temperature. A few days of that for callusing are good, but this was weeks. Pretty shriveled, to say the least, though I had given them a light plastic-wrapping to slow drying a bit.

I rejected a couple of chunks as hopeless and tossed them over the fence. The rest I soaked for a little while and planted (preserving the sprouts, as the poor things had put considerable effort into them - a garden, rather than farm, process for sure.) So far 17 of 18 unlikely-looking chunks are growing well, and there's signs of life on number 18. For all I know I'll find the ones I tossed over the fence growing too (not that I have looked.) They'll be a bit crowded, as I didn't really expect them all to live. Volunteer nasturtiums are being left in the bed. Volunteer tomatoes and squash are being transplanted elsewhere as they come up.

I do not know if they would overwinter, and I'm still slightly dubious if this is a good use for a bed here (non-infinite garden space, potatoes are absurdly cheap to buy) but they are one of the happiest plants in the garden right now. Vibrant.

Possible downsides to depending on them overwintering in ground I can think of:

Happy moles (or whatever) find your seed potatoes over the winter and eat them.

More efficient harvest than anticipated means not so many left behind. But you could deliberately replant a few at harvest time, taking any you truly missed as extras.

Not as many plants per amount of seed as when you cut seed, but if you have plenty this is not that big of a deal.

...and the aforementioned possible disease issue.

<slaps head> But you may just be asking if you need to put them in the sun for a few days before planting, or not. To that, I'd say NOT. Storing them warm for a week or two will help (if they haven't already sprouted in storage), but is also not really needed. Could be easy, though - just move your seed from cold storage into the house. In my case here, lacking cold storage "not eaten fast enough" became "seriously sprouted seed." If you are cutting, as far as I know you do want to give them a couple of days at ~70F after cutting to callus before you plant. Or you cut seed in winter, give them a few days warm to callus, and them put them back in cold storage (the farm method, to save time when spring planting time rolls around.)


Muddling towards a more permanent agriculture. Not after a guru or a religion, just a functional garden.
 
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