Thursday, June 11, 2015
This picture appears to show five potato plants that are entirely too close together. They are all that but what is not seen is the fact that six potatoes were fall planted here. Planting your own potatoes is in violation of current understanding about carrying over evil pathogens. Late blight that quickly destroys tomatoes needs a living host to survive northern winters. No part of a tomato plant remains alive over winter but a near relative, the potato, does remain alive year round. We hosted no late blight last year and felt it would be safe to try fall planted potatoes. Six potatoes went back into the ground the same afternoon that they were dug. Purple Viking is the planted variety and our crop was fantastic. Lunkers are common but six egg sized potatoes were set aside for planting.
This is our certified seed potato planting. Delivered here from a Colorado grower in early May, they were presprouted indoors and planted out one week ahead of our frost free date June first. These potatoes are several days behind the ones that grew on their own schedule. Both plantings escaped damage from our last freeze.
The blight that I am fooling with here was the cause of the Irish potato famine. Disease is common among plants that grow from last year's crop. New York garlic growers are fighting crop destroying organisms in their self produced seed. Tissue culture is a new process that is claimed to be a way around this problem. Potatoes and garlic have been grown from self produced seed for generations. I will not plant a large stand of plants from my own seed but the complex problem is not understood here. I will feel both responsible and foolish if this year's tomato crop is taken by late blight.
This planting will be hilled as a single row. The five foot wide beds are problematic if the potatoes are planted far enough apart to hill up separately. Even with the single row treatment, extra soil will need to be added when the second hilling is completed. Dried grass clippings will be used after that.