Thursday, September 21, 2017
Potato Planting Time
This is not the generally accepted time of the year to plant potatoes. Here, mid May is generally accepted as appropriate potato planting time. Anyone that has grown potatoes has experienced last year's missed spuds growing as weeds in the following year's crop. It just seemed obvious to me that fall planting was possible. Others have tried this without success. My reasoning was that those selected for seed should remain in the soil. I usually have the dishpan filled with soil ready for the seed as soon as it is found. That is not being done here as I was confused when these were dug. They have been out of the ground little more than two hours but there is nothing that can be done about that now. So, I plant, record and hope.
Summer squash grew in this bed earlier this year. Leaf mulch was used to control weed growth and the ground remained mostly free of unwanted plants. Two rows containing twelve seed potatoes each were planted in the 12 ft. X 5 ft. planting area. Red Pontiac's finished off this planting. As a mid season red potato, they are impressive. A search was required to find the size preferred for planting. Most were too large to plant without cutting.
The coarse leaf mulch that spent the summer under the squash was forced through a wire screen sieve with a 1 in. X 1 in. hole size. This smaller size will help keep the mulch in place over the winter with no plant growth above it. Also, the leaves will largely rot away by spring.
We have planted six each of the four varieties Red Pontiac, Rio Grande, Genessee and Purple Viking. That will give us a red skinned white flesh potato, a russet of impressive size, a tan skinned white potato and a psychedelic patterned red and purple skinned white potato. Only the Purple Viking is in its third year here. It tends to throw lunkers so finding suitably sized seed is difficult. This variety may well be in its last year with us. We are reluctant to keep planting our own seed thereby risking blight that caused the Irish Potato Famine.