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I Planted My First Potatoes!

 
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I planted potatoes yesterday.  I know I did it all wrong.

First,it would have been best to plant them months ago.

This is the first time I have ever planted them.  I looked on the internet for a "how to".  Dig two trenched with the center of the bed 1 1/2 foot from each.  Put in the potatoes and covered with about 3" of soil.

I had potatoes left over so I looked at the other bed.  They are all a total disaster!  Too many weeds.  I weeded the walking onion bed and then decided not to put them there.

So I put them in the bed where I planted the others, right down the center.

I know, too many potatoes in one bed.

Then I could not get the water to turn on.  So I got some containers filled with water.

I can't wait for the potatoes to left out so I can feed the deer.  That is not what I want to happen, though!  I will wait and see.

Here is a neat chart I found in this thread:

https://permies.com/t/137578/Potatoes-raised-beds-companions#1080275




 
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There has to be as many different ways to plant potatoes as there are people. Yes, you seem to be a tad late for zone 8, but why not try? I am most successful when I plant on a bed of straw compost here in southern Il with a lot of clay in the soil, but when I lived in MN with sandy soil, the trench method worked well.
 
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Congratulations on planting your first potatoes!  Gardening is a learning experience.  Never be afraid to push the boundaries as that’s how we learn.  I have grown potatoes the traditional way, in raised beds and in containers.  For me, raised beds have had the highest yield and container potatoes have had the lowest.  This year I’m doing all three as I have more potatoes left than I have bed space or containers.  

One thing I would recommend, if you don’t do so already, is keeping a notebook and recording planting dates, problems and yields for each crop.  That way in a year or so, you can look back and compare your late potato crop with a crop planted earlier. I never used to do this as I always thought it would be easy to remember the following year, yet I always seem to forget something.  I use the “notes” app on my iPad to record stuff daily and transfer it to a notebook once or twice a month.  
 
John F Dean
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Hi Michelle,  I have had zero luck with potatoes in containers as well.  There must be some kind of secret to it that I have not learned.
 
Michelle Heath
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John, I never can seem to get it right either.  One year it seems the soil stays too wet, while in others it seems to stay too dry.  This year I’m using containers with large drainage holes and adding mulch and compost throughout the season.  Hopefully one day I’ll figure out the secret.
 
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Good luck.  Planting late may mean a smaller yield, but way more then if you didn't plant them at all.  This is my first year of planting potatoes, so I think this post is helpful, thank you.  I planted some in my soil, some in compost on the soil, and some in the wood chips, and I had a old plastic bin that had some cracks in it so I put some holes in the bottom and planted potatoes in there.  I wanted to see what did best, but didn't write it down and now I don't know what is what, except the bin.  I didn't know potatoes grew so fast. I hope yours do well, you know what they say nothing ventured nothing gained.
 
Anne Miller
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Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement!

Now all I know to do is to keep them watered. I watered twice yesterday and going for three times from now on.
 
Anne Miller
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Just to document my progress ... I have eight plants coming up.  They are all at the same end of the bed so I assume that it stayed the wettest. And the other end is slightly higher so all the water runs to the other end.

We had a really good rain last night so I don't have to water today.
 
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I think I have planted potatoes every way possible and I always got potatoes.  Some ways may work better than other but potatoes are pretty forgiving.  Last year I opened up a trench in some wood chips, threw the potatoes on the ground and pulled the wood chips back over them.  I didn't even look at them again until time to dig them.  They were excellent.
 
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That West Coast Seeds image is definitely wrong.  Potatoes do not grow like that. You can stop at about step 2, because after that you only get imaginary potatoes.  
 
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So glad William posted about the mounding issue. This is something I've seen a lot [and for most of my life, I believed it worked this way], but I've been told time and again by several experts I trust that it just isn't so, and I've come around to the sad truth that my potato tower dreams may just be ridiculous.

I did an experiment last year and saw no noticeable benefit in yield with my tower vs. unmounded potatoes, and that was what sealed it for me.
 
Anne Miller
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Thanks for the comments everyone.

I have already had a discussion with my dear hubby about my planting the potatoes. At least I got them in the ground which is more than he did!  Plus I weeded two beds and the pathway to the potato bed!

The weeds (I don't like that word) were mostly sticky willy, verbena and croton.  I love verbena and really hate sticky willy and croton, though croton is easy to pull up when young. Our croton is not the pretty plant that most people think about when they hear croton.
 
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We start with a small hill and hill them twice after that.  This seems to give us the most potatoes here.  Hilling them will help keep them cooler as summer arrives.  If we put them below ground level they will mold.  We planted ours 2 weeks ago and last Saturday it got down to 26 deg and they all turned black.  This happens here quite often and they usually grow back for us.  I hope they do well for you.
 
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Hey Ann,
Here are the basics I've learned about growing potatoes.
1. They are great because they can go into the soil while it's still chilly OR not.

2. They want lots and lots and lots of organic matter mixed in the dirt. Last Falls leaves from under shrubs, compost, bunny poop and bunny poop tea. The bits of straw and hay from the barn floor or when the baby goats nap in the hay feeder and the does won't eat it.

3. They want heat in the summer.

4. They want water.

What is best for your growing zone, you will learn by trial and error. I've grown them in the ground and in containers. My home is for sale so this year mine are in huge and not so huge containers so I can take them with me. The advantage to containers (if you're not moving) is when it comes time to hell them ( helling is an old southern term. Digging them out of the NC clay was often like digging to Hell. Clearly they didn't have enough organic matter.) there is less damage to the potatoes from scaring them with you digging tool. I put a tarp down and dump the container on it. Once the potatoes are gathered I add more compost to the pile and return the soil to the containers. They are ready for a second crop.

I am a proponent of rotating crops. You might want to put some late beans in the containers. Here in NC we put beans in, in August to be harvested hours before the first frost in October. Bush bean will do well. I also plant sugar snaps and snow peas in the containers. Take a tomato cage turn it upside down and wire or zip tie the legs together. Now you have a tepee the sugar snaps and snow peas can climb up. If your growing season is not as long as ours, you can drag the pots into a greenhouse, hoop house or just cover them on frosty nights. What I know for sure is this, no matter how large or small your harvest is, your home grown potatoes will be the best tasting you've ever eaten.
 
Anne Miller
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I thought I would post an update on my potato plants.  They are doing great!  They are about 6-7 inches tall.

I had one plant that wash having a really hard time coming up.  I poke around it slightly and there were leaves so I figure it would eventually come up.

It rained for several days so all I did was look out the door to be sure the plants were okay.  The next time I watered the soil sunk in where the potato was and there were no green leaves. There was a hole about a inch big near the wood on the raised bed.  This reminded me of the thread on the disappearing tomatoes. So maybe that was a vole.  I kind of think one other plant is missing.  I have plenty if they don't get more.
 
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A potato thief!  Varmint!

I am waiting to see if my wood chips produce potatoes as fine as Trace's.  I've been watering them a lot in our recent weather, because the wood chips aren't as deep there and seem to get a bit dry.  We had a rain storm and I've had 2 days off from watering!

I planted purple potatoes.  Anthocyanins, you know.
 
Anne Miller
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Another quick update, the potatoes are doing great.  

The vole/voles have not been back since I flooded the bed. Great!

I so far have not been bothered by bugs as I pick off any that I see. Great!

Now for ants.  They seem to think I made this garden for them to make a home.

I flooded the bed again and found no ants though a rabbit looked like it started to make a nest.  I filled in the hole and it has not been back.

The ants are back.  

I went back to the house and got my bucket of coffee grounds.  

I sprinkle the ground where ever I saw an ant.  

It appears that ants do not like coffee ground.

They were running up the garden hose and abruptly turned and ran away.

I put a trail of coffee grounds all around the sides of the bed and all along the garden hose and sprinkler. And on the ground where it looked like they were climbing into the bed.

I hope this does the trick!




 
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Anne,

I had not heard about coffee grounds repelling ants.  Glad to know that it works for you and I will keep that in mind myself.

Eric
 
Michelle Heath
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Anne, so glad to hear your potatoes are doing great.  

I'll have to try the coffee grounds around my strawberries as the ants love them.
 
Anne Miller
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While I was battling ants with vinegar and coffee ground, the potato plants bloomed.

I feel I got the best of the ants, though I am using up my vinegar even if I mixed it 50/50 with water. The coffee ground blows away so I have to add more.

 
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There is nothing greater than growing spuds!  Good for you!
 
Eric Hanson
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I love to hear stories about people growing potatoes.  They are a really satisfying crop.

Now I need to dig mine up as the deer ate every last leaf of every single plant!

Oh well,

Eric
 
Anne Miller
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Eric. thankfully so far the deer have not found mine.

Now after writing this ...?
 
Eric Hanson
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Anne,

I love my Deere.  I have a nice population that lives in my roughly 5 acre field of tall grass.  I have mowed pathways through that meadow and it is plainly obvious where the deer bed down for the night.  You would think that all that grass would be enough, but no, the deer want my veggies which is why I am building a fence system around my garden beds.  

Critters would eat me out of house and home if they had the chance!

Eric
 
Anne Miller
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I knew when I wrote that ... it was an omen.

Yup, deer found my potatoes. Tonight, the sheets will come out to put an end to that.

And to the stupid grasshoppers!

Got rid of ants so the others thought it was their turn.
 
Eric Hanson
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Sorry to hear about that Anne!

Potatoes are one of my favorite crops because they are so easy to grow.

Fun fact:  a lot of German food is based on potatoes due to the 30 years war, the deadliest conflict in the world until WWI.  Prior to the 30 years war, most Germans grew grains.  But rampaging armies frequently burned down grain fields and ruined harvests, contributing to the death toll.  But the small plots of potatoes grew underground and simply didn’t care if a fire burned on top.  The upper growth could be destroyed but the potatoes themselves were safely tucked underground and could be harvested anyways.  By the end of the 30 years war, potatoes had become an indispensable food source.  And much of those traditions then migrated to the United States with waves of German immigrants.

The relevance is that while critters got your top growth, I bet you still have a decent harvest.

Eric  
 
Anne Miller
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Thanks for the nice story.  I can see you like history.

My husband and I both like history.  I like family history and he likes war history.
 
Eric Hanson
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Anne,

Well, I am a History teacher.  I have taught US History for 22 years.  I finished my masters degree and most teachers get masters degrees in either administration or in curriculum and instruction (C&I).  I have no interest in administration and C&I is soul sucking and since History is my passion, I did my degree in history (meaning no offense to teachers who do admin or C&I degrees—just not my thing).

Much of my background was in environmental history.  Another fun fact:  potatoes are often associated with either German or Irish History and are therefore assumed to have been a European crop from time immemorial.  In fact, potatoes came from the Americas, specifically from up in the Andes and it was the introduction of potatoes (among a few other crops, but potatoes were a big one) is what helped the population of Europe dramatically grow from roughly 1500-1900.

Just another tidbit,

Eric
 
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The potatoes I put in the ground about 6 weeks ago are already gigantic! I've mounded them once, now I'm trying to score some moldy hay to mound one more time. Any concerns about using moldy hay with potatoes?

I also planted a few from a bag that got stuck too deep on the pantry and sprouted. Stuck them in large fabric pots with the sides rolled down so I can fill and roll up as they grow, I'm hoping it will make mounding and harvesting a breeze.

Also continue to get volunteer potatoes from the landlord in the big garden bed, the latest sprouts are in bloom right now! I'm hoping to be able to eat home grown spuds all through the winter this year
 
Christopher Shepherd
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We had about 50 lbs of potatoes given to us this year and we planted them.  We usually get potato beetles here so I was reading all over here about different techniques to keep their numbers down.  Joseph had mentioned he won't grow any types that the beetles eat.  I noticed that they most certainly like some types over others.  I have been killing them with de.  Here is a couple pictures of shriveled up potato beetles.  This only took 2 days.
IMG_20200703_122944259.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200703_122944259.jpg]
IMG_20200703_123756491.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200703_123756491.jpg]
 
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Christopher Shepherd wrote:Joseph had mentioned he won't grow any types that the beetles eat.



And, I grow plenty of the weed Solanum physalifolium, which is the beetles preferred food.
 
Christopher Shepherd
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Hi Joseph.  What does your Solanum physalifolium look like?  I did a search and there seems to be many types.
 
s. lowe
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Well I was able to mound the potatoes in a field once with soil. But they went buck wild after that and I never got around to mounding them again until they were all nearly 3 ft growth out of the soil. Yesterday I heaped up lots of free straw that I got all around them.

Here's them before

https://i.postimg.cc/ht2YGC8J/IMG-20200711-172137-0.jpg

And after

https://i.postimg.cc/2StxJgFx/IMG-20200711-174154-6.jpg

I'm not positive it was enough and might go add more in a few days after it settles a bit
 
s. lowe
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Also I thought I posted this but I filled in my potato sacks as well.

Before
https://i.postimg.cc/Z5fThxCH/IMG-20200710-171021-1.jpg

And after
https://i.postimg.cc/MKFP2czR/IMG-20200710-172257-0.jpg

Seemed to work really well and I'm excited to see how the experiment turns out.

I added some hay the next day as well
 
Anne Miller
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I totally failed at mounding!

1) I could only mound the plants at the end of the rows.

2) I didn't have any straw so I had to use dirt.

3) When I watered, I use a sprinkler on low, and usually water until the bed is flooded about 10 - 15 minutes.  

4) The sprinkler washed way my mounds.

5) I feel I will still get potatoes just not as many and maybe small.  I will find out someday!  
 
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We're waiting to hear and cheering you on!
 
Phil Gardener
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Be watchful that when you lost your mounding that new potatoes weren't exposed to the sunlight (because they will green and turn toxic)!  

I've had more than a few do that before I realized the problem (often due to heavy rains); If you see any sticking out of the ground, add a little mulch in spots to cover them.
 
Anne Miller
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Thanks for the tip, Phil.  Great to know!

I didn't see any potatoes though I will check the next time I water.
 
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Christopher Shepherd wrote:
<snip>  I have been killing them with de.  Here is a couple pictures of shriveled up potato beetles.  This only took 2 days.



How are you applying the DE?  I;d like to do this on my plants - all planted in pots on may patio, couple plastic ones and the rest are all in fabric pots.

Sandy
 
Christopher Shepherd
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I just sprinkle them with a home made dry sprinkler.  A large mouth jar with five 1/4" holes drilled in the lid works good.  I only target the beetles, because there are lady bugs and lighting bugs all over the place that do no harm.  I saw a hand sprinkler at tsc.  It was like $17, to much for me.  
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