Question on my potatoes

chickencoupeMay 19, 2014

I planted the first week of April. They're strong and tall. The soil has compacted and seems thin, now. but, then, I don't really know how to raise potatoes. I planted them about 6-8" below grade and hilled them up with surrounding dirt. I don't think I've watered quite enough. They are in dappled shade in the late afternoons. Since the plants vary in size, I think they're getting enough sun. Will they grow taller if the soil is compacted.

As you can see,I planted the rows too close together. Something is telling me I should hill them up some more. or find a way to loosen the soil. I check and only see roots. I think some are about to set tubers.

Another option is to throw tires over some and put in soil. Don't know if it's too late for that. I'm thinking I can easily get another month's growth since they receive that dappled shade.

I don't know. Thoughts?

Or should I just leave them alone.

bon

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chickencoupe

Some are blooming. They really look great other than some seem very tall.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 8:25PM
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mulberryknob

They look fine other than being a little leggy. That's likely due to being shaded. I wouldn't try to loosen the soil. You might tear off developing potatos. If they were mine I wouldn't do a thing except monitor for potato beetles and water when they get dry. Then when the blooms fall you may want to carefully steal a few potatoes from the biggest plants. After that wait for them to die back and dig. We usually dig around the first of July. If after digging you find that the soil is too compacted, then you can add organic matter to loosen it up. Just don't add woodashes. Potatoes like to grow in acid soil and woodashes are alkaline.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:00PM
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jimmy56_gw

Look good to me also, Sounds like your doing the right thing,I hill mine up twice, Once when there about 6-8 inches tall then again when there about 6-8 inches tall so the hills are about 12 inches high, I also side dress them with 10-10-10 the first time I hill when they are calling for rain, I planted mine about the first week of April and I'm getting ready to hill for the second time tomorrow, Then I will fertilize them again when they flower.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:15PM
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chickencoupe

Thanks everyone. I might throw some more dirt on some. I'll fert with worm tea this week, then.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:42PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Since you didn't plant them until April, I'm not surprised you only see roots/stolons and not tubers yet. They need a little longer to form tubers. I agree with what Dorothy said about them being leggy due to the shade they're in. You really can't do much about that now, but it could affect the yield, so in the future you might try to put them somewhere that has a little less shade, if you have a sunnier spot available.

Maybe you're overthinking this because I think they will be just fine as they are now. Watch for potato bugs because they are easy to control if you catch them early before they can reproduce and create a larger population. Watch for the development of early blight, which will look exactly the same on potato foliage as it does on tomato foliage.

In a normal year, potato plants here will continue to set tubers and size them up until the soil temperatatures hit 85 degrees. So, by keeping the soil cool you will allow your plants to continue as long as possible to set and size tubers. I mulch to keep the soil cool. Some people seem to have the idea that if they hill and hill and hill, endlessly they'll get more tubers. I don't know if that works anywhere, but in our climate it doesn't because it is temperature that controls whether tubers set or not, and each variety has a general DTM date so you cannot keep any variety setting tubers for much longer that what is normal for it.

I'll just add this as food for thought for next year: April is a little late in our climate to plant potatoes. Early thru mid-March is more typical. By planting later, you cut a couple of weeks of production time off the potato plants' available growth period. Here in OK, we're always in an endless race to get the cool season plants to produce as much as they can before it gets too hot for them. I've noticed that in general, the earlier I plant, the bigger the yield, all other things being equal. With our erratic temperature swings in late winter and early spring, it is tempting to plant later than recommended so that the plants won't get hit by a late frost or late freezing temperatures, but planting later tends to lead to decreased yields. There's not a right or wrong solution to this conundrum because earlier plantings can be lost to or at least set back by late cold weather. Just be mindful that planting later is almost always going to cut your yield.

You want to avoid throwing too much dirt on them because, if you end up burying foliage under the dirt you throw on them, you have less foliage to conduct photosynthesis.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 10:20PM
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chickencoupe

Okay. I'll get what I get, then. Always next year... hehe

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 11:49PM
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OklaMoni

just add more mulch?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 8:26AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

More mulch is great, if you have it. One small word of caution on mulch is that if you are hand-picking Colorado Potato Beetles, the smart ones will notice what you're doing and will drop off the leaves into the mulch. They're harder to find in mulch than on bare ground, but I mulch anyway and just scout the plants daily for CPBs. If a few drop into the mulch and disappear while I am hand-picking one day, I figure I'll get them the next day. I haven't seen any CPBs yet, and I hate to say that because it never fails that if I say "I haven't seen any yet" then whatever it is that I haven't seen will show up immediately after I say that.

Bon, Since it is your first year with potatoes, you might not even have any potato bugs. I grew potatoes here for several years before they found my garden.

Also, keep an eye on the soil. As the tubers size up, they can begin to sort of pop up out of the ground. That is why we hill up the soil around the plants---to prevent sunlight from reaching the tubers. If sunlight hits the tubers while they are growing, it triggers the production of more solanine and turns the potatoes green. You don't want to eat green potatoes so you keep the soil hilled up around the plants so the tubers never see the sun, and vice versa. Mulch works the same way. I plant my potatoes so closely together that the sun never will find my tubers. I plant all the potatoes in a raised bed this with 1' spacing in all directions. That might sound like it is too close together and that our yield would suffer, but I've done it that way for several years and we get huge yields with close spacing. Last year we harvested almost 400 pounds of potatoes, which was too many for our small family. I planted fewer this year.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 9:24AM
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jimmy56_gw

Agree, I plant my potatoes about 14 inches apart with great success, The only reason for the hilling is to prevent the sun from getting them and I use the dirt in the garden and cover the plants almost completly, mulch draws too many critters, I use to pick the bugs but not anymore, Use Captain Black's bug spray,

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 9:46AM
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chickencoupe

I'm glad to hear about the spacing. Bill was helping me and set up the rows and, really, has no idea but a recall from memory as a child on his grandfather's farm. I rarely complain about whatever help I get. He's really beginning to show enthusiasm since everything is getting along. Maybe he's just happy because he doesn't need to mow as much, or at all.

And when I started planting seed potatoes, the energy to change things just wasn't happening. It was intuitive. I figured it would be okay. More likely, something I read somewhere is stuck in the back of my mind. They help each other I often think. Just don't walk on them

Today was the first time I saw evidence of arachnids. And the first time to spot holes on the leaves. Thanks to Dawn reverberating time and again that these things happen when plants are stressed, I checked. They were desperate for water. And Moni's right. I need more mulch. The flowering buckwheat is nearby and there are tons of paper wasps. I'm really hoping they'll help.

I just cannot emphasize how wonderfully the local ecology is responding to everything and I've only just begun (if I can get the darned thing moist) A bee atop the clover stung my toe yesterday. I don't appreciate the brief pain, but truly appreciate the importance of the event. We've refused to mow the yard. That clover just wasn't there for them this last spring. They did enjoy the grape hyacinths which I encourage every spring. But the clover is usually right after the hyacinths bloom and that didn't happen this year. Only now are they blooming.

The hay mulch on the taters is thinned because the birds are desperate for materials! Took me a while to figure it out. I can't complain. At least they're not bothering the wreath on my front porch. They are louder than ever in the mornings because of the garden.

And you're right. I'm pushing the envelope with the new garden. I know it'll take a while for all the bad critters to hit! I've seen the CPB here even before the garden. They haven't found them, yet.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 1:30AM
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amunk01

Bon, im glad you posted on this, i planted late and have had a dozen questions about all this since they went in the ground! It's my first year for potatoes so im interested to see what happens! Keep us updated!

Alexis

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 2:13AM
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chickencoupe

ha! I about said the same on your post. lol You must be close by.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 2:20AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

It really isn't a very buggy year at our house, if you don't count the 375 million grasshoppers per acre. That's a slight exaggeration, but not much of one. Of course, the grasshoppers are causing enough trouble to make up for all the other pests that seem to be either nonexistent or late to arrive. Last night I was watching two male cardinals fight over who the garden belonged to. It was a hoot. I tried to tell them that there's enough grasshoppers in there for both of them and all of their friends and family, but they'd rather fight over the territory than share it.

Sharing the ecosystem with all the little creatures is one of my favorite things about the garden, Bon .Today I had the string trimmer out and was using it near the clover that is in bloom and the bees were not happy. I didn't touch their precious clover, but it disturbed them to see me even close to it. I try to avoid picking fights with the bees. Yesterday I raked back some mulch and disturbed a toad. I apologized and quickly raked the mulch back over him before a predator could see him sitting there, blinking in the sunlight and trying to figure out what had just happened. Everyday is an adventure out in the yard and garden, and you never know what sort of wild creature you'll encounter. It keeps you on your toes.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 3:37PM
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chickencoupe

I about jumped out of my skin when I saw the ground move a couple weeks back. Was a toad. lol

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 1:35PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Usually I dig up the toad in the SW corner of the front garden in March or April. This year, he or she wasn't there. So, I guess it had moved to the mulch along the outside of the fence at the NE corner of the garden. I'm just glad it is still around. Of course, it might not be the same toad, but it looks the same. The sudden appearance of a clump of soil moving always makes me jump too and it is always a toad. The other things that move and scare me do not resemble a clump of soil. We have both a dog and a cat who are terrified of water hoses, having survived being bitten by venomous snakes. I have tried to convince them I'm not dragging a 100' long snake around the yard, but to no avail.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 4:01PM
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chickencoupe

LOL

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 5:25PM
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chickencoupe

We were hungry so we stole some from the biggest ones. Thanks mulberry! The plants are now twice as big as this picture. I didn't take a picture of my first harvest. All I could think about was frying them. And they were gooood! They were in very good form as new potatoes. One was 3" but most were pretty small.

I do see some lower leaves that are yellowing and might resemble early blight. I'll look again, tomorrow and try to compare it to pictures on the internet.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 10:18PM
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chickencoupe

I call blight, but what do I know? I don't think there's any coincidence the yellowing was in tandem with the spider mites.

This is a from a different plant. The yellowing begins.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 6:35PM
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chickencoupe

If plants become infected they should be removed and destroyed (not added to the compost heap). However, where potato crops have already developed tubers then these can be saved by cutting away the foliage and stems. Leave the soil undisturbed for 2/3 weeks to kill off any lingering spores so that they don’t infect the crop when it is lifted.

Do I need to remove and destroy the mulch beneath the infected plant?

Should I let the surface soil completely dry before watering again or can I wait until the crop is harvested?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 6:44PM
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amunk01

Well, crum now im worried.. i was tired and pruning on autopilot late this afternoon and cleared out the bottom few branches from a couple tomato plants that were yellowing and somewhat blotchy if i remember correctly.. But looking at your pictures, i wonder if i have a disease? I mindlessly just assumed it was fertilizer burn or the oldest branches dying back, or nothing at all to tell you the truth. I wasn't thinking at all! I also threw it all in the compost bin.. Oops. Ill keep following the thread and see what your potatoes are up to, Bon. I think my toms are up to the same thing!
Alexis

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 2:49AM
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chickencoupe

Yeah. I have a tomato plant with lower leaves looking the same. I didn't really think much of it, either. Hopefully, I'm wrong about what it is.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 3:57AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Bon, When you look at the brown spots on the leaves, do you see concentric circles within them that look sort of like a bull's eye? If so, then it definitely is early blight. In the absence of the concentric circles, it might be something else....but still could be early blight. Sometimes I don't see the concentric circles early in the infestation, but then see them develop a week or two later.

Early blight is the bane of my existence. Some years it is really awful, but other years it is not nearly as bad and occasionally I barely see any it all. There is no real cure for it. The best you can hope for is to take measures that will prevent it from continuing to progress upward on the infected plants or to prevent it from spreading to other plants.

You can spray the plants regularly every 7-10 days with fungicide labeled for use on the types of plants in question, virtually from the first day that plants are transplanted into the ground (with tomatoes) or shortly after potato foliage emerges. You also sometimes see EB on other solanum family plants, like peppers and eggplants. If you start early with the sprays and consistently use them as directed, they can largely prevent EB from becoming established on your plants. The fungicides work by coating the plants and preventing the fungal spores from being able to attach themselves to the plants.

I do not regularly spray anything on any of my plants. I just hate spraying. There's about 5,000 other things I need to do every week that are higher on my priority list. Every year when Early Blight shows up, I say to myself "Next year, I am spraying the plants with fungicide from Day One". Next year rolls around, the Early Blight pops up and I say "hmmm......I hate spraying" and I generally don't do it. This year, I actually sprayed the plants last week with Daconil. It won't help too much with the first 20 plants that I had planted back in late March, which are where the EB largely appeared. It might help keep it from spreading to the other tomato plants that were planted later in other raised beds.

Because EB is airborne, it always will be around, particularly since it infects native nightshade plants that grow all over the place. Can you reduce its impact on your garden? Yes, but primarily by preventing it in the first place. Once it shows up, you're just doing your best to keep it from spreading.

Last week when I decided to try to halt the EB before it could become widespread in the garden, I removed all the infected leaves from the plants and then I carefully sprayed each and every tomato plant in the garden with chlorothalonil (Daconil). The next time I spray, I'll use a different fungicide. You want to alternate the use of two or more fungicides so you don't find yourself with a strain of early blight that develops resistance to chlorothalonil (or any other fungicide labeled for use on the plants you're spraying).

With good garden sanitation practices, you can greatly reduce the incidence of EM in your garden and halt or slow down its spread, but once it has appeared, you cannot totally rid your garden of it in the current growing season.

I just try to nurse along the infected plants until I can harvest all their fruit.

Normally, the EB shows up when my plants have been in the ground a couple of months and are carrying heavy loads of fruit. I feel like they are putting all their energy into forming and ripening fruit at that time, and they don't have much energy to fight the EB. Unfortunately, around the time it pops up, I am putting all my time and energy into a gazillion things that make it hard for me to stop, strip foliage off the plants and spray them. There's only 24 hours in a day, after all.

On some plants, EB rapidly runs wild and moves up the plant with astonishing speed. With other plants, it stays a minor problem, doesn't spread much and doesn't threaten the life of the plants. I've noticed that Early Girl, for example, can bounce back incredibly well from being infected by EB. I'll think the plant is a goner and then it will put out all sorts of new growth and outgrow the EB.

For what it is worth, I've never had Early Blight lesions appear on tomato fruit or potato tubers, even when it has been pretty heavy on a specific plant's foliage. I also rarely see it progress to the stems. In my garden, it largely is a foliar issue only. I think maybe that is because I do remove all the damaged leaves as quickly as I can, and I try to avoid getting moisture on the leaves by largely putting irrigation water on the ground near the plants' roots, and not up in the air with the use of an overhead sprinkler. Unfortunately, with rain, fog, dew, mist, etc., there's always going to be some moisture hitting the leaves. Since we spend a significant portion of almost every year in drought with very low rainfall, it might be the fungal spores don't get to spread as much here as they might spread someplace that rain actually falls from the sky and hits the leaves.

I do not destroy mulch. Maybe I should, but I spend such a huge amount of time gathering mulching materials and spreading them on the ground that I just refuse to drag the mulch out from beneath the EB-infested plants and dispose of it. We need every bit of mulch we have. In unmulched areas right now, there's lots of cracks in the ground ranging from 1/4" wide to 1" wide. In mulched areas, there's no cracking that I have found. (I occasionally rake back the mulch to see if the garden ground is cracking.)

It always is wise to do whatever you can to stop the EB in its tracks, but you also have to figure out if it is the best use of your time. With a huge garden that keeps me busy enough just with harvesting and processing the harvest, and with tomato plants that routinely face assault not just by EB, but also from spider mites, leaf-footed bugs and stink bugs, I just try to keep the plants healthy enough that we can eat tomatoes until we get sick of them, and of course, I want to harvest enough tomatoes that I can make and can a lot of salsa. The same tomato plants that are drop-dead gorgeous in April and May can look horrific by late June or early July, and by then, I just don't care. The spider mites and other pests take such a toll on the plants that by mid-summer I'm just yanking out plants right and left, hanging on to the ones that have proven to be the most resilient. One of the bonuses of planting way too many tomato plants like I do is that you can yank out the sick ones and you still will have plenty of healthy ones left. I might spray from Day One and try harder to prevent EB if I had, you know, 6 or 10 or 15 plants, but with well over 100, a sickly tomato plant is expendable.

I already see the handwriting on the wall. Our rainfall is about 40% of our usual average, the rain keeps missing us, we have spider mites and grasshoppers in huge numbers, and my summer gardening activities will largely come to a sudden stop whenever the fire calls ramp up. Once that happens, I'll be lucky if I even can find time to harvest, much less to scout plants for disease and then treat them. So, I just don't freak out over EB. My plants continue to produce fruit and life goes on. Do they look as good as they once did? No. Will some of them die sooner than they otherwise would? Or course. Will I lose sleep over it? No. I will fight it for as long as I can, but I won't let it make me crazy.

If you can find the concentric circles that confirm it is EB, fight it immediately and fight it hard. That's your best chance of keeping it at bay long enough for the plants to reward you with a nice harvest.

In my garden, EB most often appears on tomato plants, occasionally on potato plants, but rarely on eggplant or pepper plants. There is no way to have a garden that never gets hit by EB---it is a problem worldwide wherever tomato and potato plants are grown. In fact, I just kinda remind myself to count my blessings when I see EB because it is not late blight, which is a much more devastating disease.

Dawn

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 9:14PM
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wulfletons(Zone 7a)

bon,
I know at one point we talked about the fact that you and I both have soil that is a little alkaline. I don't remember if that was a potato thread or not, but I wanted to mention that I harvested some purple potatoes yesterday and they definitely have some scab. I'm not worried about it, but I figured it was worth bringing up.
Krista

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 11:01AM
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chickencoupe

Thanks, Dawn and Krista.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 5:33PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Bon, You're welcome. I hope it isn't Early Blight but suspect it is.

Krista, I have really alkaline soil and very alkaline water, but have only had scab one year in the 16 years we've lived here. I did add a lot of peat moss (which is acidic) to the potato growing area when we first broke the ground as well as lots of other organic matter, and we haven't had scab except for that one time.I also do dust the seed potatoes in powdered sulfur before I plant them.

Do you know your soil pH?

There are very specific conditions that favor the development of scab and you won't always have them occur together (I hope) so shouldn't have a perpetual problem with scab. I think that scab is most common when soil temperatures are between 68 and 72 degrees and when the soil is very dry at the same time. With the same temperatures and evenly moist soil, the scab likely wouldn't occur.

Dawn

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 5:49PM
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chickencoupe

I guess it'll be something to watch out for. It's clear that my family wants to try to do hundreds of pounds of potato harvest next year. I wish I could afford drip irrigation for it all. Except when it rains, I bet my soil isn't very consistent.

I may not do that much (about 500 lbs) , though next year because I don't want the bug population to be out of kilter. The buckwheat flowering has drawn in the beneficial, but I'm assuming it takes time for the ecology to adjust. I don't want to breed a bunch of Colorado potato beetles or wire worms before sufficient stores of beneficials arrive. The response has been great, but I don't want to be pushing that envelope too hard.

My son was telling me how excited he will be to see how big the potatoes get. I will, too.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 8:02PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Potato bugs go in cycles. Last year I handpicked them endlessly for about a week---and I mean hundreds of them a day. I don't know where they came from---I watched for them every day and there weren't any. Then, all of a sudden, there were a ton of them. This year we haven't had a single one. I did harvest hundreds of pounds of potatoes last year, and cut back this year, but mostly because I didn't want to have to dig so many. I really dug forever last June and maybe a little into July.

Potatoes here pretty much finish up in June and need to be dug by the end of June, or earlier if it gets very hot all of a sudden. In very hot temperatures, and especially in wet soil, potatoes can just collapse into a rotted mess once the temperatures are very hot.....which likely is a reason that Oklahoma is not a major potato-producing state like Idaho.

Beneficial insects are great but they cannot do it all alone. I don't wait for them to show up. I handpick pests and destroy as needed, but I will stop and leave some pests for the beneficial insects to eat if I see them hanging around on the plants with the problem. You also cannot force beneficial insects to do your bidding. Sometimes I'll see that they are focused on a particular pest when I'd rather they were eating a different pest that I think is more of a problem at that time. You can't make them eat Pest B if they want to eat Pest A.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 10:51PM
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chickencoupe

We decided we needed some fried taters. Funny how the whole family gets in on the action when harvesting potatoes. And we did it in the dark. Kids say it's like a treasure hunt where they get french fries.

So far the most prolific is the Yukon Gold and everyone really loves them. (Obviously, we cannot leave them alone.)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 12:38AM
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johnnycoleman

After looking at your Yukons, I'm gonna dig some and fry them with fresh red onions this evening.

YUM!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 12:04PM
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chickencoupe

The other day we were out in the garden and I was swooning at how good the soil was when she piped up, "That farmer really did a good job, Momma!"

Mucho gratitude to you, dear sir!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 12:36PM
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luvncannin

What a pretty helper you have. And fresh potatoes, beautiful. I cant wait to see if mine have any.
how do you do that without messing up the plant?
kim

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 1:38PM
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wulfletons(Zone 7a)

Bon,
The potatoes and the potato hunter are BEAUTIFUL! I haven't harvested any of my Yukon Gold yet, but I can't wait to try them.
Dawn,
The soil where my potatoes are growing tested 7.8 last year. They are growing in the ground (as opposed to most of my stuff which is growing in raised beds), and the spot where they are growing is definitely not my best soil. This is only my second year in this house. I know the previous owner had some stuff growing in the area where the potatoes are. I grew some Tomatilloes, peppers, and tomatoes there last year, and none of those plants looked as good as plants in the raised beds. I amended the soil with some Black cow, compost from my bin, and mushromm compost and fed the potatoes with some garden tone. I doubt I watered them enough and probably didn't mulch them early enough. So, long story short, they could have scab for any number of reasons. My understanding is that scab doesn't really hurt anything but the looks, so I'm not stressed about it.
Eventually I'll build more raised beds over this spot. I'm not sure that I will grow potatoes again, though. I planted them just to see how it went. Coming from dry New Mexico, I am sure you can imagine how vehemently I hate the humid summers here. I imagined that digging potatoes would be easy, but after digging the few that I have tackled, I see that it is pretty hard, really. The potatoes will have to taste AMAZING for me to sign up for this much work during the heat of summer again!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 2:05PM
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chickencoupe

Kim, we greedily ripped the entire plants up. I think it was yesterday I read that it is possible to dig without destroying the baby tubers. Of course, there was no description "how". pfft figgers

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 3:47PM
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luvncannin

ya I would need specifics so I wouldn't damage the whole plant. I only have 8 plants that made it out of 20 so I don't want to risk it yet.
kim

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:19PM
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chickencoupe

I can understand that!!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:32PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Krista, My soil initially tested just over 8, but with a gazillion tons of organic matter added to it, it now tests just under 7. That might not sound like a big difference, but it is huge. Our water, which comes from wells in the Thackerville area, also tests fairly high.

There is a form of scab that can ruin the potatoes with deep pits, but I've never seen it here. In fact, we had a very light case of scab once, I think, but having never seen it before, I wasn't sure until later that it actually was scab. (And, we ate them all and they were fine.)

I have become spoiled by the oft-amended soil in raised beds in the front garden. I guess it has been improved for so many years that I have forgotten how bad it was when we started. With the new (last year) garden out back, I am astonished how awful the soil is, but it is better than the soil we started with out front. There's no telling how long I'll have to amend it to get it as nice as the soil in front. Still, stuff grows in it well as long as I irrigate often.

I love growing potatoes until the digging part rolls around. Every year when I am out there digging in the June heat, I insist to myself that I will not plant potatoes next year.....but then I always do plant them again.

The humidity is annoying, but it doesn't get nearly as bad here in Love County as it does in eastern and north-central OK, so I usually only have to deal with it fairly briefly. Often in the summer months, particularly in drought years, our relative humidity is so low here that our heat index number will be lower than our actual temperature. This year is so unfair. We have had rain all around us but very little ourselves, and yet we have ridiculous humidity. It seems to me that if we don't get the rain, we shouldn't have to put up with the higher RH values. In 2003, 2005 and 2006 there were times our relative humidity values bottomed out in the single digits, but we aren't having that kind of year here this year, or at least not yet.

Y'all, to rob potatoes from the plants without harming them, just stick your fingers into the soil (check for snakes and scorpions first so you aren't sticking your hand into a dangerous situation) a few inches out from the plant, and feel around in the soil until you find some. When you find some early potatoes, gently pull them from the plants, pat down the soil firmly and then water it for a minute to help the soil settle down around the remaining tubers. You can steal a few early potatoes from each plant this way, but remember it will lower your overall yields. Still, it is fun to harvest and eat new potatoes, especially if you can cook them with a batch of fresh green snap beans.

My potato plants looked really sad yesterday and worse this evening, so I think they are going to finish up early in the heat and drought. I don't blame them one bit. Officially, our mesonet station hit 96 today, which is pretty hot for potatoes to tolerate, but at our house, the outdoor Mid-Max thermometer hit 99. If I was a potato, how would I feel about 99 degrees? Well, I wouldn't like it at all.

Dawn

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:56PM
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luvncannin

thanks Dawn. I will try that and see if theres anything in there. If not I need to get to the store and buy some in case I have to bury them for my neighbor to dig up, LOL. I don't want him to be disappointed again with no potatoes to dig.
kim

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 9:00AM
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chickencoupe

Okay, now. I'm starting to worry. When is wet too wet?

I worked this soil and it has a lot of natural organic matter, but at about 6" it starts to get muddy as I noticed when we pulled before several days following the heavy rains. Those deeper potatoes were bigger, btw, but it took great effort to scrub them clean. We got some rain this morning and we'll get some tonight and, well, it's looking very wet for us this week.

Bill says the ground is too wet when "it pulls your boot off". LOL Some of these are Yukon and the other batch is from Minnesota. Oh, of course, I didn't plant them orderly nor did I mark them.

I removed most of the existing mulch to help them dry. I could put some fresh clean mulch down, if that will help.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 7:01PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I"d leave them unmulched until this rainy spell ends. The QPF shows you getting pretty substantial rainfall. If it is correct, your potatoes might get almost more water than they can handle so you wouldn't want any mulch on top of the ground around them retaining moisture. I don't necessarily think your potatoes will rot since they still are actively growing, but you still would want the soil to dry out as much as it can in between rounds of storms.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 7:21PM
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johnnycoleman

This is the way I harvest potatoes and the way I make the ditch to plant them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmYjwnucd4g

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 7:57PM
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chickencoupe

Okay. The soil is perfect right now, so they should be okay from drying out.

Thanks, Mr. Coleman! Looks like I need a better method next year. Bill's mind is constantly on building something attached to the riding lawnmower. hehe

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 8:02PM
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chickencoupe

We dug them all, today. They all doubled in size and we had some new potatoes growing. They are all beautifully shaped and the Yukons are especially pristine. The Minnesota potatoes show signs of scab developing. But because they are relatively young it's not real bad. I don't know why one variety has it and not the other. Only some of the original potato seed show signs of rotting. So far, I have only seen one with nibbling on it.

The Yukons are real winners in that soil. We did not get very much because I planted so late. Maybe 30-35 lbs?

I can see three times the productivity next year in a different location, planted deeper and planted on time.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 6:55PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Congrats on the successful harvest.

Some varieties are more tolerant of scab than others, but all have some degree of susceptibility to it. Several of the varieties recommeded by OSU, like Norland and Norkotah, have moderate resistance to or tolerance of scab.

Rotating the plantings to new areas each year help prevent scab from building up in the soil if you have soil that is in the pH range in which scab is a problem. In general, I don't worry and fret too much about crop rotation, but with potatoes I do try to grow them on a 3-4 year crop rotation because I have highly alkaline soil, and it is a struggle to keep the pH down low enough to prevent scab from becoming established. Moving them each year also keeps the voles busy searching for them instead of the voles just returning to the same place every year because they've learned they are there.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 7:37PM
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chickencoupe

Thanks. Yeah, neutral or slightly alkaline. Add to this my inexperience like not watering enough. I need to rotate, for sure. This was in summer shade. I think I'll plant strips of chard, cabbage, broccoli and, then chard in this spot running in the opposite direction because of rain run off. Learned a lot! Potatoes are great ground-breakers.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:05PM
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chickencoupe

I meant "..and, then alfalfa in this spot.."

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:06PM
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luvncannin

Congrats on the harvest. I am still patiently waiting. I looked in my calendar and I actually didn't get my purple potatoes in until April. So no wonder they aren't ready yet.
kim ...waiting waiting waiting

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:32PM
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chickencoupe

Waiting is aweful, innit? Bill was worse than me sneaking in over the last few weeks. I think mine could have gone longer if I had watered them a bit after the rains. We just devoured baked potatoes. It was different and so unusually tender. Bill wants 12 times as much next year. ha!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 10:24PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

The very first time we ate home-grown potatoes, Tim exclaimed "they taste just like dirt" after his first bite, a comment that didn't sound like a compliment to me. What he was trying to convey to me was that they had "an earthy flavor" he adored.

Waiting pays off, though it feels like torture. I always grow either blue or purple potatoes, and some years I grow both. They're my son's favorite potatoes of any of the varieties I've ever grown.

Kim, Have you grown potatoes there before? With the heat we have here, any potatoes I haven't dug before the end of June usually deteriorate in the early July heat (and sometimes in the late June heat) and are soft, watery and rotted when I finally get around to trying to dig them. That experience has caused me to try to finish the harvest by mid-June in a typical year. Last year, I grew too many and couldn't get all of them dug early enough, and in the last row or two that I dug, that rot thing was already occurring with random plants here or there.

Dawn

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 6:12AM
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luvncannin

Dawn I have not grown potatoes in this particular spot. last year they did not make at all but I believe that was due to lack of sun. Year before I did okay, different garden.
I keep saying I am going to keep better notes but I have not yet. And my memory is so busy with other stuff.
This year they are in a spot that gets full sun from 9 - 3 or 4
Hopefully thats enough. My sons are doing well but I didn't have him plant any purples for me and the whites aren't too good for my blood sugar.
I will eventually get some just have to find the right spot or new land!
kim

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 9:42AM
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MiaOKC

Since this is a good thread about this year's potatoes, I'm piling on - anyone NOT dug their potatoes yet? Mine are flowering and still totally green foliage. I thought I was waiting for the foliage to die down, but I got mine in the ground late, too, so maybe need to dig anyway. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 3:29PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

Yeah, my husband keeps asking me if we can harvest potatoes yet. Yhis is my first try. My plants are pretty shabby looking, but they have not died down. Should I quit watering?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 3:58PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Mia, If they are just now flowering, you likely have only small, new potatoes right now, so I wouldn't attempt to harvest them yet. You can "steal" a few young new potatoes at this point if you want (we like them with fresh green beans from the garden) or you can just patiently wait for them to grow some more.

Normally, potato plants set and size up the tubers when soil temperatures are below 85 degrees. Since June and early July have been fairly rainy and fairly mild in many parts of the state (until this week, at least), soil temperatures are pretty decent right now and likely are below 85 degrees several inches below your soil surface where the plants are setting and sizing tubers. You can check your county's soil temperatures on the OK Mesonet soil temperature map pages. So, as long as the temperatures are staying in the right range, your potato tubers should continue to form and to enlarge. That's a good thing, because often, by early July, the soil is getting really hot and the tubers have stopped enlarging.

As long as the foliage is green and healthy, the tubers should be in good shape underground as long as your soil is well-drained and isn't staying too wet. Even from a late planting, the potato tubers themselves will continue enlarging until the soil temperatures get hot enough and then your foliage will begin to die back. That is when I would stop watering. Once the foliage dies back, then you decide about when to harvest them.

If you want them for longer-term storage, clip off the dying foliage at the ground level and leave the tubers in the ground for 10-14 days so the skin can thicken up and protect the tubers better in a more long-term storage situation.

If you planted a small amount and intend to eat them up fairly quickly, you don't have to leave them in the ground long enough to develop thicker skin since it won't matter.

One problem with harvesting potatoes late is that sometimes they get so hot in the ground they just start rotting. Of course you want to avoid that. I've never seen that sort of rot occurring when the plants are green and gorgeous, partly because the dense plant foliage shades the ground and keeps it cooler. It can happen after the foliage gets crappy-looking and is starting to die back.

Amy, I don't know when you planted, but think that if they are getting shabby looking (and if the reason is not disease), then they probably are starting to die back. So, yes, I'd stop watering. That will allow the tubers to stop enlarging if they haven't already and to develop a thicker skin.

If either of y'all feel uncomfortable waiting longer because you're afraid the combination of heat and wet soil may cause your potatoes to rot, you can harvest them anytime you want. Potatoes are usable at any size. Remember you can gently probe the soil directly beneath/around the potato plants and see what you find. You should find potato tubers in there, though they may be small if your potatoes went into the ground late. Late-planted potatoes still produce a harvest, but it is a smaller harvest.

I like to get my potatoes dug fairly early, mostly because digging potatoes in 100-degree weather is not very pleasant. The thermometer on our shady, east-facing porch currently shows 103 and our current soil temp is around 100 degrees (that is actual soil temperature a couple of inches below ground right now, not the 1-day or 3-day average), but my potatoes all are dug and in storage inside the house in a cool, dark room.

Next year, if you can get the potatoes in the ground on time (Feb 15 to Mar 10), you can dig them around mid-May to mid-June depending on what varieties you choose and their DTMs. Digging in mid-May to mid-June always gives us plenty of potatoes, and it allows us to get all the digging done before insanely hot weather arrives. One year I waited too late to dig, had to dig in ridiculously hot weather and had some potatoes that dissolved into a gooey mess when I touched them. It is not a mistake I'll make again. Normally, if you get all the potatoes dug here in OK before the end of July, they'll be alright, assuming you aren't having a monstrously wet year and that you don't have very heavy, very slow-draining soil.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Mesonet Soil Temperature Maps

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 6:04PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

Thanks, Dawn. Mine are growing in bags on the east side of the house. We harvested one bag about 2 weeks ago, I was not impressed with what we got, so we left the rest till the foliage died back. I don't think we will have enough to worry about long term storage, :)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 6:49PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

We harvested the rest of the potatoes today. I meant to do it sooner, but you know, stuff happens. I would say, had I gone to the store and bought two 5 pound bags I would have had more potatoes for less cost than what I got. This is something DH wanted to grow, so will keep trying. Some of them were trying to sprout, so I guess I should have harvested sooner. I found some completely rotted, maybe the original seed potato? Considering they were grown in bags, wasn't a bad harvest. Going to transplant my sad sweet potatoes into the bags tomorrow, though they may be beyond stressed.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 6:21PM
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chickencoupe

So sorry to hear that! We had enough to call it "good" but the entire harvest wasn't superb, for sure. I'm noticing some have turned green. I know they weren't green when I stored them. It's not bad, though. I just whittle away at it with the potato peeler. After washing a few, I definitely see some scab.

It's still been so much fun. We have this goofy trial going. Bill decided to plant a budding potato into some tires. LOL

I am totally spoiled with these Yukon Golds. I never bought them in the store because they were so pricey. It's so strange to have these some-what "free" potatoes sitting in a bucket.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 1:53AM
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chickencoupe

I sure hope we get a decent harvest this year. The kids are psyched to be eating more Yukon Gold. If the soil is okay, we're going to triple the plantings.

I came here because I saw Atwoods has seed potatoes out, but not the Yukons. Seems early, but I've no clue. I needed to check when to plant.

Seems like early March, maybe.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2015 at 11:42PM
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chickencoupe
    Bookmark   January 26, 2015 at 11:48PM
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Auther

The middle to last half of March or first of April is plenty early for Irish Potatoes. If planted to early they will rot in cold wet soil. Last year I planted on St. Patrick's Day and they came up fine and were about 8-10 inches tall when a freeze came and killed them. But they came back and I still made a lot of spuds.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 3:44PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

OSU's recommendations are valid and based on research, but each individual has to keep an eye on their own soil temperatures, air temperatures and general weather conditions and plant when the conditions are best in any given year. Sometimes, it still is too cold and too wet to plant at the OSU-recommended time. Sometimes, we have a relatively warm winter and you can plant a little earlier than they recommend.

You also have to take your soil and growing method into consideration. If it is a wet, cold year and you grow in clay soil, it sometimes is wiser to plant later than OSU recommends because, as Auther noted, seed potatoes can and will rot in cold, wet soil. It is less of a risk if you are growing in well-draining sandy loam or if you're growing in containers or raised beds, which keep the soil from staying so wet the seed potatoes rot. You also can dust your potatoes in sulfur before you plant them and it helps lessen the chance of the seed potatoes rotting, although nothing will prevent them from rotting if you get a lot of rain and the soil stays perpetually wet.

I've planted at many different times, ranging from mid February to mid-April and, in my location, I usually get a great harvest from an early March planting. If the soil is too wet and too cold in early March, though, I'll wait for warmer and drier weather to arrive. It kind of depends on what the weather for the next month looks like too. If a huge cold spell with bitterly cold weather and precip is forecast for the next couple of weeks, I will not put seed potatoes in the ground until that weather has passed even if my perfect planting date is right then. Better to plant late and miss that cold,yucky weather.

Some years, the weather is so erratic that no matter what you do, your potato plants are going to have to endure some close calls with very cold weather. If they freeze back once, they generally regrow and your yield might not be affected much if at all. If the plants freeze back repeatedly, you're likely to get a lower yield because the plants had to divert energy into regrowing over and over again instead of focusing the energy on making tubers.

Four years out of five it doesn't seem to pay off to get in any big hurry to plant early. You have to be a good guesser to figure out which 1 year is going to be the year we warm up early and stay warm and early plantings thrive. The last year we had here where it paid off to plant early was in 2012 when our last freezing temperature occurred around March 9th. That was a good year to plant potatoes on time or even early, but years like that are few and far between.

Dawn

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 5:08PM
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chickencoupe

Okay. Will perform due diligence.

Will those potato seeds at Atwoods be good, still, around that time? I'm certain they'll have more, but it made me realize I don't know their pre-to-plant shelf life.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 11:30PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Yes, they should be. You can buy them now if you want and store them in a cool, dry place. I often store my seed potatoes at the back of the walk-in pantry, as far from the light and doorway as possible so they won't get a sudden urge to wake up too early. Some years I have kept them in the tornado shelter. They did fine in there too. Usually the stores get them in about this time of the year and still have them in April (not the same ones). Seed potatoes are held in cold storage a long time and have a pretty long shelf life. If they start sprouting before it is time to plant them, I don't worry and fret about it. They'll still perform just fine when planted.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 11:37PM
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soonergrandmom

Bon, I always buy Yukon Gold at Atwoods, so I will be disappointed if I don't find them there.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 9:25PM
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chickencoupe

Our local Atwoods services a big area and I must get there early before they're depleted and they had fewer Yukons relative to all the other kinds. Last year wasn't an issue because I started small. This year? MORE. Lots MORE. hahaha

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 11:38AM
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chickencoupe

This prompted me to call. The local isn't carrying Yukon this year, but the one in Stilly does. I'm considering:

White Kennebec
Yukon Gold
Norkotah Russet

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 12:16PM
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klem1

Howdy do Coop. I'm impressed you didn't burn yourself out with all you had going last year. I didn't notice you posting in Soil,Mulch and Compost for quit a while and worried somthing was wrong. For those with heavy soil desiring to steal early taters I'd suggest planting a few in raised beds comprised of 50% or more compost and partly composted material. Much easier to push a hand and fingers into while "grabling". Regular additions of small amounts of nitrogen helps since little is available in what is basicaly a compost heap. I only noticed one person in this thread who didn't fry new potatoes. I was born on a farm where gardens were a nessary part of life and can't recall mom frying new potatoes. Potato soup,boiled and topped with butter,salt and pepper and with green beans and peas was the only way new potatoes were used. Remember to only take what you need of rain and send the rest on to Texas. You can keep all the twisters you like and send the rest back to Kansas. At any rate here's wishing you Okies fantastic gardens and a mediocre football season.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 1:13PM
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chickencoupe

Hiya Klem! How thoughtful of you! This year I'll be shaping some primary rows. Now, it's a jumbled mess but awesome soil with exception to density.

I did not meet my goals last year, but I did well, because the soil is exceptionally nice considering Oklahoma clay.

This year is going to be da bomb. (isn't it always?) I'm using a little of everything I learned on the soil forum. Every one of the suggestions were helpful since I have such a large area.

So far I have 300 onion bulbs coming in. I'm figuring now, but probably - at least - 3lbs of potato seed. More if I can fit into good soil. At least 40 broccoli plants and trying to fit everything else.

I had great yields last year when one realizes I did not amend the soil !

I'm moving the compost(s) atop the garden to begin a rotation. It just does wonders to the soil beneath and I'm tired of hauling it around. lol

*hugs* You're awesome.

bon

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 1:54PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

My Atwoods had kenebec and red pontiac out today, they were in bags, last year I bought some sitting out bulk style. I did not see any Yukon Gold. The onions are there, too. Seed racks are out, seeds are 25% off!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 2:13PM
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chickencoupe

The manager at the Stillwater Atwoods said the bulk sales produced a lot of waste so they decided to sell them in 5lb bags ($3.99 per).

I'm no till. I'm thinking of planting extra in the areas I have overgrowth. Potatoes do a swell job of starting beds. Last year's plot is nearly weed-free. And we will certainly eat them all.

Heck, I had potatoes growing under my compost pile that I turned yesterday.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 2:34PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

Hmmm, I was thinking of daikon radishes to open up a new bed. Something like radishes first then maybe buckwheat and then cowpeas and something through the winter so I can put asparagus in next year. If you do potatoes without tilling, how do you plant them? Dig a spot and hill? I will have to deal with grass first.

We grew potatoes in bags last year. DH still wants his hundred pounds out of a box that he has seen on line. We may also try a method where you use a roll of fencing lined with straw or burlap and dirt in the center. Then you plant through the sides. An experiment. I just don't have enough beds.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 3:26PM
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chickencoupe

Amy, that's my compost. The fencing wire in a circle? And the potatoes I put in there last fall seemed to enjoy it. Seems it would work if it had enough time to grow to height of the planter and, then, sprout roots.

Sorry to confuse you. Indeed, this potato patch was plowed and, then, weeded. But afterward, not much is trying to take over. All my other veggie beds are pretty much covered in henbit. Once is nice!

bon

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 3:44PM
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soonergrandmom

Bon, I hope you meant to say onion plants and not "bulbs". Those little dried bulbs are OK for green onions, but not much else.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 4:38PM
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chickencoupe

Oops. I think you're right. Order is from dixondale this year.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 5:08PM
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soonergrandmom

Aww, Dixondale, good choice.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 6:19PM
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chickencoupe

shh.. I've connections to some master gardeners (and cooks) who give out tips to me. Don't tell anyone..

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 8:14PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I wouldn't worry about not seeing Yukon Gold seed potatoes. Sometimes they just show up later than the others. I watch the selections in the stores where I shop very carefully and there is not necessarily any rhyme or reason to it. One week they'll have certain varieties in stock, sometimes for 3 or 4 or 5 weeks straight, and then all of a sudden, there will be a much better selection. I usually see seed potatoes in stores here from roughly the week after Christmas until at least April, but it isn't always the same varieties for that whole time frame.

Amy, I wish him luck with that. It seems like maybe it happens for some people in some climates, but here in OK, the onset of heat and high soil temperatures (85 degrees) shut down the formation of new potatoes on the existing stolons. If he could keep the box cool and shaded so the soil temperature doesn't hit 85 degrees, he would get more tubers setting and sizing up, but not endlessly over the course of the whole summer.

Bon, lol lol lol. Our lips are sealed.

Dawn

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 8:33PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

I know what you mean, Dawn, I didn't have high hopes for potatoes at all, and I probably wouldn't grow them, except my husband wants them. He has been so good about building beds and doing the heavy work, I've tried to grow anything he requests.

Bon, the concept is for the plants to grow out the sides of the fence, not up through rhe top. I will see if I can link the instructions, it is hard to describe. It's another way to grow vertically. Maybe I will put the strawberries in one.

Here is a link that might be useful: Potato tower

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 10:41PM
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chickencoupe

That's pretty cool.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 10:46PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Amy, I've grown potatoes that way. It was okay but only okay. The potato plants grow fast, likely because their growing medium warms up more since it is elevated up above grade level. In a dry winter and spring, it is incredibly hard to keep them moist enough to produce well, and that can result in smaller potatoes and fewer of them. I tried to solve that problem before I ever planted the seed potatoes by putting a 4" wide perforated black plastic pipe in the center of the wire cage before I filled it up with the growing medium. To water, I stuck the water hose into the perforated pipe at the top and filled it with water, which ran out through all the perforations which ran along the sides of the pipe. I still have that black perforated pipe and have used it in compost piles and Japanese tomato rings many times to serve the same purpose. In our case, the yield in the wire cage was nowhere near as good as the yield from potatoes planted in the ground, and I suspected at that time that our heat and drought were to blame. In a wet year when it rained constantly, that problem should go away, but I haven't tried it in a wet year, mostly because we so seldom have them here.

If you have field mice, voles or rats, there's a good chance they'll get into the growing medium and nibble on your potato tubers so watch for signs of them. If I were doing this nowadays, based on how much trouble I've had with pine voles since 2011, I'd wrap the lower two feet of the cage (and line the bottom that sits on the ground as well) with quarter-inch hardware cloth to keep them out. When you're in a rural or semi-rural location, there's always a lot of varmints hanging around looking for a free meal and wanting to eat whatever you're growing. I find it easier to deny them access in the first place than to try to eradicate them after they've already gained access and begun nibbling on the tubers. Often, you don't even know they are there until you steal a few new potatoes and find that something's been nibbling on them.

I also have grown Irish potatoes in a 4'-diameter galvanized metal stock tank whose bottom had rusted out. Again, the potatoes did all right, but I think the growing mix was too good and we got a lot more foliage than tubers.

I have grown sweet potatoes in the stock tank as well and they did well, but the soil mix still was too rich (I had added a lot of sand to it, but that didn't kill the fertility enough) and I had longer, stringier sweet potatoes than usual.

There's lots of stuff on the internet that looks very appealing but that proves to be very difficult to achieve success with in our hot, dry climate.

Dawn

    Bookmark   January 31, 2015 at 8:08AM
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luvncannin

I am going to put in potatoes this year but I am waiting till middle of March. Last year I planted a few early and they rotted or so I thought. At the end of summer pulling up marigolds and zinnias I found 1 plant with 3 tiny potatoes. Somehow it got just enough sun to grow. This year I am not cutting mine either. Seems I do better when I just throw the whole thing in there.We will see. Since I cant eat them its for my baby, We actually prefer sweet potatoes.
kim

    Bookmark   January 31, 2015 at 8:22AM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

Lots of good points Dawn. Potatoes are DH's thing. I will suggest the watering pipe to him. I never thought about soil being TOO good for potatoes. (I remember we talked about it with sweets.) We are in a suburban neighborhood, but next to a drainage ditch that has been a highway for wilder critters on occasion. Mostly the dogs take care of that. My lot is criss crossed with easments (2 years ago DH pounded in a fence post and cut our phone line.) I am going to have to keep trying space saving techniques, because I want to grow it ALL. LOL. I have been resisting drying type beans for that reason, but some are just so darned cool looking.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2015 at 11:51AM
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soonergrandmom

I hope that someone gets a good crop from a potato tower so they can take a picture and post it. Over and over I see all of these clever little planted towers, but not the production. I tried it once, years ago, and was very disappointed, so never tried it again. I hope you have better luck than I did.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2015 at 12:07PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I agree with you Carol. Everyone on various forums and blogs always shows the beginning of the potato tower process, and the middle of it, but they never come back and show the incredible harvest. Never. I think we know the reason why. I do think it would be possible to do them in areas with cooler, wetter summers, but since we don't live there, I'll never get to see it happen firsthand.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2015 at 12:36PM
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chickencoupe

I'm going to post a link for reference on this topic. I was looking up information on questions over potatoes I've already asked.

Potato Varieties for Oklahoma (and planting/spacing information)

I'm going to to with the 9" all-around spacing. I hate how rows take up so much space. I haven't anything to place down on my walkways to keep the bermuda from growing. if i'm weeding, I'd rather do so for edibles. I tried similar on my corn last year and it worked well (in good soil). I also planted some potatoes closely in rows (about 8-10) and some far apart (as much as 3'). The ones planted closer had better yields. these were Yukons and white kennebec.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2015 at 5:55PM
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soonergrandmom

I am glad you started this thread because it reminded me of how I planted potatoes in 2013. I have cattle panels that are 4 feet apart and I use them for cucumbers, beans, and peas. Because I have limited space, I planted my potatoes down the center between the cattle panels since I knew they would be coming out of the ground before the beans and cucumbers would shade them and be in the way.

It got cold after the potatoes and peas were in the ground. I put up arches and covered the conduit arches with Agribon 19. The edges were on top of the peas so I thought I would probably have to replant them, but they seemed to enjoy the protection also and produced just fine.

The pole beans always grow tall and hang over the top of the panels, but by that time the potatoes are gone and I stand where the potatoes were to pick the beans. It just gave me better use of my space. I had 2 16 foot rows and one a little shorter. We liked Yukon Gold the best.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2013 Potato Planting

    Bookmark   January 31, 2015 at 8:20PM
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chickencoupe

Look at that! So neat and orderly. Agribon ... one day ... one day ....

I keep reminding myself I cannot think myself into experience. Bill and i were just discussing the tomato trellises. So far, I've about 43 tomato plants I want in and absolutely no trellis system. At first, I complicated it. Then, I decided simple is better and if it doesn't work I can make changes. I brought up cattle paneling because you mentioned their economic feasibility back at a time when the thought of purchasing them was absolutely impossible. :D We figured it out- about 24 cattle panels. These will run overhead, btw.

Nifty plant timing matters is something I will gain over time. I'm just lucky to understand the tree lines and sun directions. for example, I just started my sweet potatoes. Way early! I suppose I could think more clearly and further if it were not required of me to squeak together balloon animals every ten minutes. heh kids

    Bookmark   January 31, 2015 at 8:36PM
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chickencoupe

I really love that arched trellis, btw. I dream of having a couple in the future.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2015 at 8:44PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Carol, Your garden looked so good in 2013!

Your beds covered with low tunnel arches and Agribon reminds me of mine. Because of the slope of our land, people driving by can't see the young, short plants in the garden in spring, but my friends tell me that they can tell when I've got the front garden planted because the tunnels covered with Agri-bon magically appear. Those are tall enough that they are visible from the roadway. They say the appearance of the tunnels also tells them to check the weather as near-freezing temperatures must be on the way.

Bon, Your garden will come together in the way you want, all in good time. Neither Carol nor I, nor any other gardener I know, had all the nifty cages, trellises, arbors and fencing in the early years. It takes years of growing to reach the point where you have everything worked out in some systematic sort of way.

Most of our friends and neighbors here who tractor-garden don't even want trellises, arches, cages and such because they want the land wide-open for easy plowing and cultivating of the soil. I'd rather have the structures so I can grow more things vertically, for example, and so I can grow indeterminate tomatoes instead of only determinate ones.

You know, you could do the Florida Weave for your tomato plants. All you need are fence posts (some folks use wooden stakes but I'd worry that the weight of the plants would make them snap in thunderstorms with high wind) and some sort of strong twine. The Florida Weave is the easiest tomato support system to start out with because it is easy to put up and take down and relatively inexpensive compared to the costs of making cages or trellises. You also could start with a few cattle panels, use the Florida Weave for the rest, and.....if you like cages or trellises more, just gradually convert over from the Florida Weave to cages and trellises over time by adding more cages/trellises each year until there's nothing left to grow with the Florida Weave.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 12:15AM
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chickencoupe

i've changed my mind on trellising so many times lol last year, I let them sprawl and I didn't have very many. Because it's so windy I thought sprawling might be okay, but they still got "dirty" and bug bitten. I considered a raised trellis for sprawling - about 2foot up, but I want to plant too many vegetables. Not enough room. Back to vertical.

I have an enormous amount of wind across my garden. It would tear up a florida weave that acts like a wall. I've planned it extensively and the needed support would be so vast we might as well do a heftier system. I do wish I could do those. Much simpler.

However, I'm going to use the wind. I'll let the wind pollinate my maters.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 1:15AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I never have been fond of letting tomatoes sprawl as they seemed to produce less and also to have more disease issues, especially in wet years.

Tomatoes pollenize themselves internally within the flowers, generally before the flowers actually open up for insect access,and they really do not need any help from wind or insects in normal conditions, although I guess they won't refuse it. (As if they could.) This is why it is possible for so many gardeners to save seeds from their own OP tomatoes without having an excessive amount of crossing. Insects can come along and visit the flowers after they open and transfer enough pollen to sometimes give you crossed seed via that insect-related pollination. Some varieties of tomatoes (the currant types) have exerted stigmas and that makes them even more likely to cross-pollinate via insects.

I try to plant my tomato plants where they will have the least wind activity possible. Excessive wind will break heavily loaded limbs right off the plants which is why we have to give them great support of one type or another. The type of strong winds we get in March can windburn the plants and strong thunderstorm winds occasionally bring down caged tomatoes, even when the cages are supported with two 6 or 8' tall green t-posts. Sometimes the Oklahoma winds are just cruel.

The pollenizing of tomato blossoms can be adversely affected when high humidity/heat make the pollen 'sticky' or causes it to clump so that it does not move around well within the flower. That's when some gardeners do a little intervention, thumping blossoms, buzzing them with electric toothbrushes, walking down a row of cages and whacking each cage with a tennis racket as they walk by, etc. If you get strong winds (as do all our gardens here at times), the wind might shake up the flowers enough to move sticky pollen around. I don't usually see that type of tomato pollen issue until the real heat arrives, usually in June, but sometimes as early as May in a really hot year.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 6:55AM
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soonergrandmom

Thanks Dawn, that was a good year for the Spring garden.

Bon, I have used various things as a trellis and I like CRW cages best for tomatoes. I also love them for pole beans. I grow my main crop of beans on a cattle panel (horizontal), but I usually grow several types of pole beans and they are easy to pick when planted on my largest CRW cages. One year I put a CRW cage in a large tree pot and grew pole beans outside my garden area in my side yard. I got an amazing amount of beans from that container. My yard has a lot of shade, but in the side yard they got sun from every direction. The bean pods had purple markings making them easy to see, and easy to pick because I could reach inside the CRW cage and was always standing.

Picking bush beans is not an easy task for me because my back doesn't bend. I normally plant one row of bush beans down the walkway as my first Spring crop because they will be ready earlier than the pole beans. By the time they finish, the pole beans are ready and will produce until frost and I can stand up to pick them.

I have grown lots of different pole beans and have had success with all except Kentucky Wonder. In eastern Oklahoma some years we have a lot of Japanese Beetles (some years none), but KW seems to be a magnet for them. They strip the grapevines then start on the KW. I have not had a problem with other beans so far.

Some of my CRW cages are pretty lame looking, but I use them anyway. One day a man that picks up junk and sells it was next door, loading some stuff on his truck. He already had most of his load and I think he must have cleaned up a construction site for someone. He had a roll of CRW on his truck and I said, "That will make someone some good tomato cages." He said, "Do you want it?" He was known for making a buck anyway he could, but I said, "How much?" He said, "Would you give $15?" I about broke my neck getting inside to get the money for him. LOL I think Al made 20 cages from that roll. He made the first ones a little larger than I like for tomatoes, but they are fantastic for beans.

Dawn, you probably remember when we had that little F1 tornado and it took down huge trees in our neighborhood, a roof, and quite a lot of other damage including a tree at the edge of my garden. I had row cover over some crops and it didn't even blow it off. It turned over a large CRW tomato cage and dropped it onto the row cover making a small hole, but it didn't remove the cover at all.

I love cattle panels and have also grown tomatoes on them, but they are too valuable for other crops, so I don't put tomatoes on them anymore. I grow cucumbers, peas, pole beans, asparagus beans, and other vine type crops on them and use CRW cages for tomatoes. I have one panel that is cut in half (8 feet tall) and I use them side by side. It is not in a great place, but serves as a trellis and as afternoon shade for my air-conditioning unit.

As you can see, I love growing vertical.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 1:10PM
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chickencoupe

hehe In making the best of it, I'll let the wind whack 'em.

I plan to string them... er "cable" them and trim the suckers back as I see fit. And that part is only because of the wind. I'll post a pick in the summer especially if it fails. haha

I look forward to becoming more intimate with their various growing patterns.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 1:16PM
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soonergrandmom

Bon, just a thought, but the Oklahoma sun on pruned plants might be a bigger hazard than the wind. I prune nothing.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 2:44PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Carol, I do remember that little F-1 tornado, although my mind is terrified of all tornadoes and doesn't want for us to disrespect your F-1. Even small, relatively weak tornadoes can be dangerous.

I love growing vertically as much as you do merely because it is so efficient space-wise. My back is not in the shape yours is in, but it is getting older and stiffer, so my extreme love of bush beans and bush cowpeas likely will fade as the years go by.

Bon, I don't prune off a single limb. When someone suggests doing such a thing when Tim (who grew up in PA) is around, I sarcastically say "That's a Yankee tactic we don't use here." We need every leaf a tomato plant produces in order to shade our tomatoes from sunscald. Also, your leaves are your plant's energy factory. You must have the leaves in order for the plants to conduct photosynthesis. If you want good yields, don't touch those limbs! I'd cut off my own arm before I'd cut a perfectly good sucker off a tomato plant. There may be a benefit to some commercial growers to manage their plants that way, or for Giant Tomato Contest growers to reduce their plant size (though I think normally they remove excess fruit, not limbs/foliage) but for us average Joes here in OK, it's all about getting good production and the plants need their suckers to do that.

I once had a neighbor (in Texas, not here) who read a tomato-growing book written by a Yankee. She carefully trained her plants to single stakes, removed every single limb from her tomato plants and pinched off every bloom, and had these tall pathetic things that looked like palm trees and produced absolutely no tomatoes whatsoever. I have no idea what the book advised or if she followed all the advice properly or took it too far, but she was not a person who wanted for anyone in the neighborhood to tell her what to do, so I didn't try. I harvested fruit all summer from my big, thick, dense caged, unpruned plants that sat just a few feet from her palm tree-like tomato plants. If ever there was a great side-by-side illustration of how-to versus how-not-to, that summer was it. When her husband asked me why they weren't getting tomatoes, I tried to keep it brief and told him that she was pinching off all the flowers that eventually would form fruit, so how could they expect tomatoes? He was kinda speechless and decided not to mention to her that he had spoken with me. He feared her wrath.

Dawn

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 9:31PM
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chickencoupe

Thank you, ladies. I'll leave them be.

I have some Kentucky Wonder seeds. Now, I'm wondering. Probably would be okay. Haven't had any of those around here *crosses fingers.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 10:26PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Bon, I know Carol and Dorothy have had huge issues with Japanese Beetles, and the JBs do seem to love the KW beans. However, I'm further west (as are you) and I rarely see more than a couple of JBs per year. Some years I don't see any. So, why not try the KW's? If worst comes to worst and they do attract JBs, then at least you'll know that.

I usually plant small sections of many kinds of beans---up to 15 or 20 varieties. If any given one of them is more prone to have disease or pest issues that year, then I have all the others left to produce. Planted that way, it takes me a few years to use up each packet, but I also like having the diversity of having beans in all shapes and sizes, colors and flavors, and with varying maturity dates.

Dawn

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 10:49PM
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chickencoupe

This year my goal is a successful harvest. I am hopeful. Next, we need to determine which ones we like. We really like those sold at Wal-mart. The Market Fresh in the packages. I've done a search to find which they are to no avail. I hope to have sufficient harvest to try all these under various cooking methods.

Bush ----------

Bush Bean "Slenderette" (French Stringless)
Blue Lake Stringless
Anasazi
Cowpeas,Southern Peas, Black eyed Peas

Pole Beans ________
Woods Mountain Crazy Bean
Kentucky Wonder (Rust Resistant)
Rattlesnake Beans
Asparagus
Frank Barnette Cutshort Pole Beans

Note: Anasazi are GREAT in place of pinto. Tender and sweet.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2015 at 10:45AM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

I grew KY Wonder last year without pest issues (although I always found the grasshoppers there...) I am further east. Maybe they just haven't found me yet. I am growing four o'clocks this year (just because I want to) which are supposed to be a toxic trap crop for japanese beetles, so maybe I will get any that come calling.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2015 at 12:07PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I like beans so it doesn't matter which ones we plant and grow---we eat them all and like them all.

One year, just for fun, I bought one of those dried bean soup mixes that have a couple dozen kinds of beans in the bag....and planted them. You get an amazingly diverse bunch of plants. It isn't the method I'd always choose to grow beans, but I was in the mood to experiment, and I had fun with it.

I think that my big patch of 4 o'clocks are one reason I rarely see Japanese Beetles here. Regardless, they are very fragrant and perfume the entire area at night. Their fragrance literally stops people in their tracks when they catch a whiff of it. Also, deer rarely eat them so they are one of the few things I can grow outside the fenced garden that will survive. I assume rabbits don't eat them either because I don't think we'd have all those plants there every year if rabbits were eating them.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2015 at 5:13PM
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soonergrandmom

I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but I have four-o'clocks in my yard and have never seen a Japanese Beetle on them, but they can sure destroy other plants.

We also have flea beetles really bad some years. Sometimes the hollyhock leaves have nothing left except the veins and I always have to keep eggplant covered.

It seems each year I have at least one troublesome pest. I'm almost afraid to say this, but I think I have found only 7 horn worms on my tomatoes in all the 14 years I have lived here, and they were all in the same summer. One year Harlequin bugs destroyed my Chinese cabbage and that was the only year I have had them. One year something hit my tomato plants that I never did identify. They were tiny and came in by the thousands. They first hit the container plants in the yard, then about 2 weeks later I had another batch that hit the plants in the garden. I knocked off as many as I could with a spray of water. That was the only year I had those. One year I had aphids and the ladybugs came in to clean them up, but the plants had already been damaged. Other years I see very few ladybugs. The year that I used hay for mulch, I had SVB but that was the only year, but I do try to plant the squash types they don't like. I've killed very few potato bugs. Squash bugs hold a convention here every year.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2015 at 7:52PM
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chickencoupe

Wish we could charge parking fees for the events.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2015 at 12:11AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

lol

My pest experiences are a lot like Carol's except that grasshoppers migrate in from the surrounding rangeland almost every year, so with them it is just whether it is a year with a light, medium or heavy infestation. Last year was truly horrible. I hope this year will be better. Otherwise, I've only had a bad blister beetle year one year and a bad harlequin bug year one year. I get a bad Colorado Potato Beetle year about every 4th or 5th year.

Squash bugs and squash vine borers were not a problem pest for a long time, until suddenly they found us. Now they are a problem about 3 years out of 4 or maybe 4 out of 5. I doubt it ever will get any better. Cut worms and army worms were awful a few years back....maybe in 2010? Otherwise, they're only a minor problem most years and not a problem at all some years. I wish we could know in advance which pest was going to be the big problem in any given year so we could prepare for it.

Corn earworms are a perennial problem, but some years only minor and other years more major. I generally don't have flea beetles here, and cucumber beetles are a problem most years but haven't been the last couple of years.

In our early years here, we never had snails. However, as the soil improved over the years and became more humusy, the snail population grew. I just hand-pick them and destroy them. It is hard to be unhappy about the snails because their presence in the garden highlights how very far the formerly rock hard red clay has come, but I look at them, smirk to myself that if you improve the soil, they eventually will come, and then I kill them.

Dawn

    Bookmark   February 4, 2015 at 1:45PM
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chickencoupe

Okay, Atwoods in Cushing is fully stocked including Yukon Golds

I gotta ask: What's up with the red potatoes (Pontiac Red)

They have one entire table dedicated to the red potatoes. And only one table to include Yukon Gold, White Kennebec and Norkoda Russet.

I read red potatoes are more resistant (to something) than others? Is that why the market demands more of those?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2015 at 5:24PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

My Atwoods red potatoes did better than my more expensive seed stock Yukon golds lasr year. Also, my guess is your typical Atwoods customer is old school enough that they wouldn't grow yellow potatoes.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2015 at 5:42PM
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chickencoupe

Yeah, I was guessing it's custom and reliability over what some might consider 'gourmet'. I may, yet, discover why. lol

    Bookmark   February 7, 2015 at 5:45PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Red-skinned potatoes (Pontiac, LaSoda, Norland, etc.) store better/longer so maybe that means they are more popular with folks who want to raise their own food so maybe that's why your particular store is stocked up with more of them. Also, many long-time gardeners like to feast upon freshly-picked snap green beans with new red potatoes cooked with them. It is one of the true pleasures of late spring/early summer.

We like all potatoes---regardless of the color of their skin and/or flesh and I prepare each different type using whatever method suits that particular kind of potato. Different ones have different cooking qualities, so I bet some people who've grown potatoes more than a couple of years focus on the ones that fit best with the methods they usually use when preparing potatoes for meals. A person wouldn't want to grow a lot of the waxy types of potatoes if they prefer to eat the fluffier ones, and vice versa.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2015 at 6:34PM
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chickencoupe

Nice. Thank you. Storage, huh? I'll give a few a try and see if we can work with them, too. And compare.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2015 at 6:46PM
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chickencoupe

I'm very sorry. I have another question. Because of space limitations I have decided to replant potatoes in the same area this year. I did not have my soil tested. I should have. I hope to remember to do so this fall.

Nonetheless, I was considering applications of organic material that would be helpful to replenish the soil after potato harvests. I don't even know since I've only grown taters once. I think I understand that root crops prefer phosphorous. I have some compost, but like everyone else, there's not enough. Is there anything else I should consider applying? And will home made bonemeal work okay for phosphorous?

Should I put it down now or can I wait until just before planting? Wow. It'll be nice when I don't feel like such a bother on this forum.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2015 at 3:47AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Bon, Why are you sorry about asking a question? It isn't a bother to answer your questions either. This forum exists precisely so those of us who garden in OK can ask questions, seek advice, share experiences, etc.

As long as you add organic matter to the soil to keep it loose and fluffy, there shouldn't be a problem with planting your potatoes in the same spot as long as you did not have any sort of disease or potato pest infesting that potato-growing area last year. You may or may not need to add a fertilizer. It just depends on the fertility levels in your soil, which you cannot really know since you didn't get the soil tested. If you want to add fertilizer before planting, you could add the fertilizer of your choice, whether it is organic or synthetic in nature, but if you do that you should add a complete and balanced fertilizer instead of trying to cherry-pick and add only phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen etc. There is a very specific reason for that.

Clay soils of the type we have here tend to be extremely fertile so I think there's a good chance you don't need to add anything this year anyway. Often the kinds of clay we have here already have plentiful P and K and all you ever will have to add is N and then also the various micronutrients by adding compost or a balanced fertilizer that contains micronutrients. When you cherry-pick and add P or K or magnesium or whatever without actually knowing whether the soil needs those added or not, you run the risk of creating a surplus of a specific nutrient. The problem with that is that a nutrient surplus can interfere with the absorption/usage of other nutrients. That's why it is best to avoid adding a single nutrient just because you think or are guessing that the plants might need it.

You shouldn't add a single nutrient that way unless you observed symptoms last year that the soil was deficient in that nutrient or have a soil test telling you to add it. When a gardener does that sort of scatter-shot adding of this or that without knowing if it is needed, it often creates a situation where there is an excess of something that is interfering in the uptake of other nutrients, so the gardener then tries to fix it by adding something else and then ends up on a hopeless merry-go-round of randomly adding this or that. in a frantic effort to fix things now.

If you are going to add any sort of slow-release soil amendment or organic fertilizer to the potato-growing area, you can add it now as it will release slowly, if at all, in dry, cold weather, which seems to be the pattern we're swinging back towards after already having had spring in February. If you were going to add a quick-release synthetic fertilizer to the soil, it wouldn't hurt that much to put it in the soil now since potato-planting time is almost here, but I'd probably wait and add it maybe a week before planting.

Instead of focusing on adding random nutrients in specific areas to make up for a perceived nutrient-shortage or a perceived need that the plant might have, just focus on building the soil and improving it in a deliberate, steady manner, at least until you get a soil test done and have some guidance from it that tells you what your soil needs (if it needs anything at all). Potatoes are pretty good at finding the nutrients they need in the soil in which they are growing. I've had them perform equally well in barely-amended clay or barely-amended sandy-silty soil, although every year, as the soil got better through the continual addition of compost and organic matter, the potato harvests got better. If you were growing them in the kind of very fast-draining sandy soils (not the richer sandy loams) that do not hold nutrients or water well, then you might have to add fertilizer this year to get great yields, but if that were the case, I'd still add a balanced fertilizer if I didn't have a soil test to tell me specifically what was lacking.

    Bookmark   Thanked by chickencoupe    February 11, 2015 at 9:03AM
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chickencoupe

I cut my seed potatoes, yesterday. Thinking that might have been a bad idea, I did some reading on the internet. A more pressing concern is that I discovered some of them probably had blight. (They were rotting and reddish on the inside. Of course, I tossed those and any that had blemishes on the skin.

I failed to clean my knife, tho. Should I chunk them all and start over?

1 Like    Bookmark   Yesterday at 4:58PM
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johnnycoleman

Bon,

I would encourage you to look up "Potato Hollow Heart" on the web. Just to address any identification issues. Some of our seed potatoes had "Hollow Heart" and we just planted them.

Let me know.

Johnny

    Bookmark   Thanked by chickencoupe    Yesterday at 5:03PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I agree with Johnny.

If they were carrying Early Blight, it wouldn't matter as it is wind-borne and soil-borne and exists virtually everywhere anyhow---flaring up when the temperatures, relative humidity values and moisture combine to favor its growth and spread.

I find it hard to imagine purchased certified seed potatoes would have Late Blight, as they have been treated preventatively.....that's why they are certified. Also, if your seed potatoes have late blight, and I am certain they don't, they won't last long enough for you to get them in the ground. Late Blight has to have very specific conditions (temperature and humidity is very specific ranges) in order to survive and, while it will survive on dormant plant matter, you'll unlikely to find it on purchased, certified seed potatoes.

As for disfigured spots on the seed potatoes, that's life in the real world. They have been in storage, shipping and the retail distribution chain for months so I wouldn't expect them to look absolutely picture perfect. I plant any seed potatoes that happen to have blemishes on the skin as they generally are superficial marks that don't really affect anything. The potatoes still sprout and still grow.

If the prospect of possible disease spread bothers you, buy sulfur dust and dust your seed potatoes in it before planting. It is a fungicide. While people with well-drained soil might never have to worry about seed potatoes getting diseased, folks who have clay often have more of a problem with fungal diseases because their soil drains more slowly, leaving the seed potato pieces more moist and more prone to fungal diseases. I don't use sulfur if we are pretty dry when I'm planting, but I will use it if the weather is rainy and the soil is staying wet.

I think you're probably worrying about nothing.

    Bookmark   Thanked by chickencoupe    Yesterday at 6:05PM
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chickencoupe

Okay. I believe that was it. I suppose I should have been disappointed, but I know not enough of dirty seed potatoes to tell much. Many of them were in such bad shape that I knew they weren't good. Must have tossed 3/4 lb. I'll go buy some more and pick through them.

1 Like    Bookmark   Yesterday at 6:33PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Just for future reference, even seed potatoes that look pretty crappy will sprout and grow and produce healthy plants with healthy tubers most of the time. Now that you are a gardener, it is time to erase the grocery store image of perfect potatoes out of your mind. Gardening isn't always pretty or perfect, but we aren't trying to grow things that look perfect---we are trying to grow healthy food to eat. I don't throw any seed potatoes away unless they are mushy and rotting and stinky. If I am doubtful about the health of any of the remaining ones, I save them for the last and plant all the sorry-looking ones together in a separate row at the end of my potato planting area. After everything sprouts and grows, you cannot tell the row planted with ugly seed potatoes apart from the rows planted with fine-looking seed potatoes, except for this: since I usually plant 8-10 varieties, the "bad" row will be a mixture of many different varieties which is most apparent when they bloom as different ones can have blooms with different colors. My original intent in putting the sorry ones together in one row was that I'd know it was the bad row and, when they didn't sprout and grow, I'd know I could replant something else in that row, instead of having gaps in all the other rows. Well, I've never had to worry about replanting the row because they pretty much all tend to grow.

Sometimes gardeners, particularly less-experienced ones, get hung up on everything being "just so" and looking perfect and all that, which is not at all necessary. Ugly tubers, corms, rhizomes and seeds still sprout and still grow and still produce great plants with great edible parts or pretty flowers or useful foliage. You have to give them a chance to show you that appearance doesn't matter---it is what's inside that counts. It is as true with plants as with people.

    Bookmark   Thanked by chickencoupe    Yesterday at 6:51PM
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