Thursday, April 14, 2016

sprouting my seed potatoes

I like to sprout my seed potatoes before I plant them. They're all sitting on my kitchen windowsill now. I'm looking at them and wondering: does a watched potato sprout? (silly...)

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Potatoes are hardy enough to be planted outside now. One reason I'm sprouting them inside is I haven't prepared my potato beds yet. It's been chilly and I've been busy. But I have been researching how to prepare the beds. (They're at my community garden.) I looked up whether potatoes like a fertile soil and I found all sorts of different answers: some site say they're light feeders, others say heavy feeders! OK, so a Google advanced search of only .edu sites, voila!, they are heavy feeders. All the extension sites agree.

I didn't realize potatoes are heavy feeders and so I haven't given them much compost in the past. This year I want to put on a good 2 inches of compost. That means I'll need 1 cubic yd (27 cu ft). Compost is so expensive, especially when purchased by the bag. I think I'll bring compost from my home bins to my community garden. I've generated a lot of compost in the past year and I figure the effort to transport it is similar to transporting bags of compost. So that's on my to-do list next week.

At my Master Gardener class today, the speaker talked about SOIL. A great topic! The head of the soil testing lab at the Univ of Conn (Dawn Pettinelli) gave a super 5 hour soil course. She told us that pH is the most important parameter to keep track of in garden soils (drainage too). She mentioned that potato scab is one of the plant diseases affected by soil pH. (I hate digging up potatoes and finding them covered in scab.) She said that at a pH lower than 5.2, the scab pathogen won't grow (the potatoes will), so this is one approach to prevent scab. But if you lower the pH in your potato bed, it makes it hard to rotate plantings. So she said - grow resistant varieties. OK, I did select for scab resistance in the varieties I have this year. Hopefully I'll have scab-free potaotes this year.


Karen Anne said...

I never managed to grow potatoes in the garden. So I tossed them in the compost bin and they grow every year. I just cold compost, with no attention to what goes in there in terms of balance, so I am not sure they get much feeding.

Urban Hidroponik said...

how long u usually just sitting and watch the potatoes sprout? :D Hihihi

Sheridan said...

Potatoes are all up and growing vigorously in my raised beds here on Whidbey Island, WA. Every morning I grab a cup of coffee, slip on some shoes and head to the garden to see what has happened overnight. This is the first year for potatoes. It's fair to say I have no idea what I'm doing! It's experimental.

kathy said...

That's so cool Sheridan! I love it. I hope you have a great potato patch this year!

Steve said...

I've found it very easy to both start and grow large potatoes- even in colder spring temperatures - simply by buying only the largest seed and planting them an inch or two deeper. Last year it took my potatoes 22 days to emerge due to the cold. This year, only 10 days because it was warm for a week after I planted them.
With that being said, those are some interesting tidbits of information you've provided. Thank You! I'm going to file that away in my memory bank for future reference if needed or if I simply want to try a different method. Good luck to you this season. I hope you are able to produce a bumper crop.
If you have any free time, please feel welcome to check out and comment on my blog: I'm only in my third month of existence, but I'm looking to gather new ideas and advise from those who have been at it longer than I have. Also, it doesn't hurt to make new contacts with those who share the same interests.
P.S. Good Luck on your Master Gardener Certification. That sounds like something I may want to try in the future.