ARTICLES
 
HOME RESUME OLGS ARTICLES ACTIVITIES&EVENTS COMMENTS GREENNOTES
PRODUCT & BOOK REVIEWS    CREDIT & LINKS MY ANCIENT HISTORY

POTATOES 
FOR THE HOME
GARDEN
BY BRUCE ZIMMERMAN

There is nothing like the taste of a new potato fresh from your garden.  Moreover, it does not matter if they are grown in large containers on your deck or balcony or by the traditional way in your garden soil.  Potatoes are planted at last frost in well cultivated soil not enriched with horse manure. The Spuds can be cut into pieces with three eyes (sprouts) on each piece.  They are callused by allowing the cut surface to dry for up to a day.  Some varieties that are small or the finger type should not be cut up but should be planted whole.  An example of this is the German Fingerling potato, which has always reminded me of people’s fingers and toes.  

 PLANTING POTATOES IN LARGE CONTAINERS

This is great if you run out of room in your garden or simply do not have one.  Fill the container with soil or a soiless mix up to one third full and cover the Potato tubers with additional mixture.  After the sprouts are eight to ten inches high you hill up in the container by adding additional mixture. This can be repeated several times until the mixture is about one to two inches from the top of the container.  For fertilizing, I use Smartcote™ 14-14-14 by Plant Products mixed thought out the mixture as it is added to the containers. This takes care of the fertilizing for the entire season.  Potatoes in container need to be carefully watched for water stress.  Reduce the heat in the container by avoiding direct sunshine on the containers in the hot afternoon.  Keep the soil mixture moist not wet or dry. A good moisture meter will help you to achieve this.

 PLANTING POTATOES IN YOUR GARDEN

In a full sun area, prepare the soil with organic materials making sure that the soil is slightly acidic with a pH of 5.0 to 6.5.  You can determine this with a pH meter.  Potatoes like a slow acting long lasting balanced fertilizer applied in the spring and if you need extra feeding use a balanced water-soluble fertilizer e.g. 20-20-20.  This extra feeding may occur several times through out the season and is especially important with the late varieties of potatoes.  Planting depths are four to eight inches.  Planting distances are twelve to fifteen inches apart in the row or as close as six inches if you want smaller potatoes like the gourmet new potatoes they charge you extra for in the stores.  The rows are usually thirty-six inches apart.  Late maturing potatoes must be protected from early frosts or the quantity and size of the potatoes will be smaller.  After the potato’s leaves are, eight to ten inches high hill them with the soil from between the rows.  This can be done several times.

 COMMON PROBLEMS

Some of the common insect problems are Aphids, Leafhoppers, Colorado Potato Beetles and Japanese Beetles.  Wash off the aphids that have no wings and use insecticidal soap on winged aphids and leafhoppers   Hand pick Colorado and Japanese Beetles in early morning (messy) or spray with pyrethrum or Bacillus thuringiensis (BT).  To control Scab provide consistent moisture and a pH below 5.3.  Providing good soil drainage controls Black Heart.

HARVESTING YOUR POTATOES

Harvesting begins one to two weeks after your potatoes bloom.  Lift one plant and harvest the potatoes as new potatoes.  For storage potatoes, you will wait until the tops die down to harvest but do not let the tubers freeze or the potatoes will be useless. 

 STORAGE OF POTATOES

For short-term storage place your potatoes in a cool dry dark well ventilated space at a temperature around 40 degrees F.  For long-term storage, usually 6 months use a root cellar with all the short-term storage requirements. Always use the potatoes before they have sprouted.  Remember Potatoes exposed to sunlight will turn green and these green parts are toxic.

 SOME EXCELLENT VARIETIES FOR THE HOME GARDEN.

 Early maturing 60 days+

Erik – High yielding boiler with late blight and scab resistance – Red skin – Good for storage

Norland – Very early red skinned – White flesh – High yielding

Superior – White flesh – Good for baking, boiling, french fries- Some scab resistance – High yielding

Yukon Gold – Yellow flesh and skin – excellent for eating and storage

 Medium maturing 75+ days

Longlac – Bluish-purple skin – White fleshed – Long tubers – Excellent baker and French frier

Rideau – Snow white flesh with bright red skin – Good resistance to scab and Verticillium wilt – Excellent for boiling, baking or eating fresh

Ruby Gold – Yellow flesh with red skin – Excellent cooking qualities – High yielding

Purple Viking – Dark purple skin with snow white flesh – Good taste – Good storage

 Late maturing 90 days +

Desiree – Light yellow flesh with pink-orange skin – Long tubers – Excellent for boiling – Distinct flavour

Green Mountain – Oblong tubers- Very dry flesh – Excellent boiled and as a microwave baker

Sebago - White round tubers – Great boiler and baker – Wart, late and early blight and scab resistance

Shepody – Very long white tuber – Good for baking and boiling – Good for french fries – High yielding

 Specialty Varieties

Alaska Sweetheart  - Pale pink flesh with red skin – Late maturing – Good yields

All Blue – Blue skinned and Blue flesh – Good taste and still blue after cooking - Mid-late maturing

Banana – Fingerling type waxy, firm light yellow flesh – Very high yielding – Good boiled or as home fries – Very late maturing – Scab resistant

German Butter Ball – Very Dark yellow flesh with a tan skin – Excellent boiled, mashed, baked with a pronounced potato taste – Very high yielding – Mid to late maturing

 My favourite varieties are indicated with a

TOP

BACK

NEXT ARTICLE

Copyright 2007