Potato questions!

Skybird - z5, Denver, ColoradoJuly 6, 2009

Hi all,

Neophyte potato gardener back with more questions!

How do you know when itÂs time to dig up potatoes??? Mine were growing tall and green until a couple weeks ago, and now theyÂve all flopped over and some are starting to look pretty peaked! Will the potatoes keep getting bigger if I leave them a while longer, or should I dig up whatever IÂve gotten now? If theyÂre "done growing" and I leave them in the soil, will something bad happen to themÂlike theyÂll start growing a second time and wonÂt be edible anymore?

HereÂs the progression of my compost pile potato garden!







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Azura(z5 CO)

I am definitely not a potato expert but my plants always get hit with a virus/bacteria of some sort that curls up their leaves about this time of year. At some point of boredom in the winter months I attempted an identification and bookmarked some websites. I'll try to look that up if you think you might have a similar problem. I do rotate the planting area every year and I dont use pesticides.
I still leave them in the ground for a while longer because it seems the leaves may still be doing something and the potatoes are fresh and normal (altho small), even up to three months later. The potato plants seem to maintain a level of... degradation (for lack of a better word) after looking a bit worse than yours do now, if that makes sense. If yours have a similar disease as mine, they may yet live although they will be darn ugly. Let me know if that doesnt make sense, someone served me a glass of red wine with dinner and its gone straight to my head. Also, if someone has expert advice, Id love to hear it.
Skybird, I have compost potatoes this year too! Its the first year I havent planted my own because of my back and the first year Ive had compost taters. Just another little thing I am learning to appreciate.
Are your leaves curled? Do you have any sign of disease?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 10:51PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Azura,

Thanks for the response. ItÂs really great to see you posting around here again. I was planning to post on your thread, but havenÂt gotten over there yet, so IÂll reply to you here! Sorry to hear about your back problems. With all the bodily damage IÂve had in the last few years, I know what itÂs like to hurt all the time! At least my back isnÂt giving me any problemsÂyet!

But IÂm glad youÂve found the joy in "just looking!" When I get home from a trip, almost alwaysÂand no matter how tired I am, I come in the front door and go straight out the back door for a slow walk around the yard. I do that several other times during the day when IÂm home, but when IÂm still in uniform I donÂt want to get it dirty, so I donÂt even pull out "a few small weeds!" ItÂs strictly a "IÂm back home in my wonderful garden" walk. ItÂs so relaxing, and so gets me "over" whatever happened on my flites! I love to do that when IÂm out in the hills or on vacation too. Just take my time when IÂm hikingÂwhich is usually really more like plain old walkingÂand look at the trees and other plants and rocks and sky and.......... In spite of all the problems, it really is a wonderful world we live in!

I donÂt think the potatoes have a disease. The foliage looks to me kind of like itÂs "at the end of its useful life," but thereÂs no curling or spots or bugs or anything like that. IÂve kind of wondered a little bit if they might be too dryÂthatÂs sorta what it looks likeÂbut the "original" potatoes are at the very bottom of the 2 X 12, and then I filled it up with half digested compost, so it seems to me it should be staying pretty wet all the way down on the bottom. And the same thing happened last year when they were actually growing right in the compost pile, and they were way plenty wet then. It just kind of looks like theyÂve decided itÂs the end of the growing season and theyÂre "done!" But never having grown potatoes "for real," I donÂt know if that happens or not. Hopefully a RMG "expert" will be along to help us both!

Hope youÂre feeling better soon,

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 11:22PM
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Dan Staley

You'll know - they'll flower then the lvs will start to turn then just before they get crispy, start digging. Hard to describe, easy to see, esp if you do garlic and onions - same signals.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 11:28PM
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What Dan said, looks right to me.

If you leave the new tubers in the ground, there is a risk that they will begin to sprout - especially, if there is plenty of soil moisture.

You don't want that to happen. So, when they are done, they're done.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 12:14AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Thanks guys! I don't see any indication that they're gonna bloom before the foliage completely yellows, but I'll wait a while longer and see what they do. If I see any indication of new green growth coming up, they're going in my stomach!

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 12:18AM
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Dan Staley

Yum. BBQ at Skybird's!


    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 10:15AM
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Planted potatoes a few times, this year makes year 6? Always left them in the ground until about the first frost. I did not harvest last year until well after the first frost. Mine are all snuggled in straw and leaves until then.
That is when the plants are completely dead. They usually bloom a blue/lavander flower around mid August for me. Then they die off and I harvest after the tomatoes are done.
I have never had any new tubers sprout until the next spring. That is when you find out how many potatoes you missed in the fall.
You can dig into one side and find out what you have under a plant, but they will still be very small, more likely than not.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 10:19PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
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