Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Planting Potatoes

Beautiful weekend in New Harmony!  I love it when the wind decides to rest.  My husband, son, and father-in-law worked on the new fence going up around the garden and pumpkin field.  The deer and rabbits enjoyed more of my garden last fall than we did.  My husband is always so wonderful at making my dreams come true, fixing, building, and repairing all kinds of projects for me.  I worked at planting corn and potatoes- two of my families favorite crops.

Potatoes come in a favorite of colors inside and out. Each variety is suited for a specific use  And the a potato has endless uses:  boiled, steamed, fried, mashed, roasted, baked, and even smashed potatoes. They have varying storage and maturity dates.  Homegrown potatoes taste soooo much better than store bought and they can easily be grown without pesticides. If harvest small and early they are called new potatoes or harvest at maturity for full sized potatoes.

Trench for potatoes. Plant 8-12" apart.

Potato Plantin' Pointers:
Potatoes are planted from whole or partial seed tubers
Use only  certified seed potatoes because they are disease free
Cut potatoes so there is an eye or two in each piece or plant whole seed potatoes
Allow to sit overnight if cut
Dig a trench, put potato seed in and cover with 2’ of soil
As plant comes up hill more soil around until trench is filled
Plant around April 15th- May 15th    
Potatoes require good soil moisture levels.  Irregular watering results in knobs and cracks.
Near end of summer plants begin to yellow and leaves start dying
 Harvest storage potatoes when vines die or new potatoes whenever tubers form
Avoid heavy fertilizers
Plant in wide rows

Potatoes can be categorized by maturity (early, mid-season or late) or skin types
Russets:  Russet Burbank
Smooth: *Katahdin,* Kennebec, *Carola, Yukon Gold
Colored: All Blue, *Red Norland, Dark Red Norland, *Viking Purple

I plant early, mid-season, and late varieties.  Mountain Rose and Purple Viking are one of my favorites. Baked they are so moist and sweet.  They aren't a great long term storage potato but they usually don't last that long.  Red potatoes are usually early maturing and a must for my garden.  Kennebec, Katahdin, and Carola are my late season and storage potatoes.

Potatoes can also be white, yellow, purple or ping fleshed.  Try a variety.  One of my favorite sources is Irish Eyes but seed potatoes can be found at any garden center.

Blights:  spray regularly with neem, serenade, and sea kelp.  Prune off diseased leaves

Crop rotation a must.  Remember potatoes are in the same family as tomatoes.  Use 3 year rotation

Tuber greening:  cause bitter taste after cooking.  To prevent keep covered with soil.

Rough skins, cracks and irregular shapes:  moisture fluctuations even moisture is the key

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