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Those tater thangs

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#1 FrozenInTime OFFLINE  

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Posted April 28, 2016 - 01:34 AM

Need some help, or ideas for my tater patch.  My garden is a mix of dirt/clay/sand.  For the last 5 years I have til'd under grass as I mow/bag the yard.  I also spread a lot of straw/chicken poop, after I let this sit for atleast a year to cool down.  My soil is getting pretty good, easy to work not like the brick I started with.  My veggies are really taking off very well.  Fruit trees I planted are just starting up nicely.


Anyways, my quest is to have a good crop of taters.  First year I tried, I got enough to last the winter for us but I had planted a lot of them to start with.  Next couple years, production has slowed down, last year was a total failure.  Had enough for one meal, that was it and they were tiny.  I know the garden is well fertilized, perhaps I have fertilized too much for the taters.  I also this year picked up a PH meter and checked my soil out.  The whole garden comes in between 7.0 to 7.5 in spots.  Taters like it me thunks around 5 to 5.5, yes?  What would be the best, and we want to stay organic, no chemicals, what would be the best way to get my soil down that much in time for spring planting?  Will a couple bags of peat moss in the patch drop the soil to where I need it?  If not, what?  I have access to many acres of fresh grass, piles and piles of last years leaves, hundreds of bales of barley straw.  The only thing I would have to buy is peat moss if needed.  Or would peat moss make the patch worse?  Too many questions?   :o)


If ya'll have not run out of patience with my questions, I have more, sorry.  If I may:  Planting taters, I have heard/seen soo many ways I'm not sure what's right.  Do I just till the soil, plant the taters on the flat soil?  OR do they need to be planted on a hill from the start?  I can do either.  Then I read, after 3 weeks grown, hill dirt up on the plants/taters.  THEN, another 3 weeks, do it again to where your rows are one big hill.  My biggest question when doing the hill thang, do you just put a couple inches of dirt on top leaving the plant stem/leaves uncovered, or do you completely cover the plant, everything?  Then do it again a second time, cover everything, plant/leaves and all?  As a kid we never grew taters much so I was never taught the correct way.  The ways I have tried have been less than stellar so I come to ya'll for help. 


Now if your wondering, I'm not a young kid starting out, but an old phart wanting his new career of laid back gardening to be relaxing.  No more tote that pack, no more jump from a perfectly good plane, no more shoot the guy over there.  All I want to do is grow veggies, eat veggies, eat my own chickies/eggs, drink my own homebrew and wallow in my successful garden with a big fat smile.  Can ya'll help me achieve my dream with some awesome information I have seen come from this great and friendly board?  (I'm up late and my meds have kicked in... LOL, but yea, the questions are legit)


Thanks, ya'll are the best!



Could not stop without a couple garden pics and maybe, a pic of my garden tractors.





Actually, this is what I use now.  I had to put up 6 ft fencing to keep the field rats out.  My old tractors will still fit, but just enough to turn around and make a mess of thangs.... LOL




Edited by FrozenInTime, April 28, 2016 - 01:45 AM.

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#2 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted April 28, 2016 - 02:21 AM

I don't know the answers to your questions. I think that they vary by county across the country. I think that you should check with your county extension office about what variety of potatoes and planting techniques work best in your area. Chances are that they have pamphets on most crops. In my area, I have to add lime or woodstove ashes to my soil to "sweeten" it. Enjoy your retirement. Good Luck, Rick

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#3 propane1 ONLINE  

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Posted April 28, 2016 - 04:02 AM

Potatoe grower here in pei told me to use triple 17 fertilizer. Also he said to add Epsom salts the the ground the year before planting. And crop rotation. Only grow potatoes once every three years. Not suppose to grow year after year in the same plot. I do every second year. I am widening my rows this year and planting each set two feet apart. This will help the plant leaves dry out sooner after a rain. This helps keep blight away. Just some thoughts.

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#4 Alc ONLINE  



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Posted April 28, 2016 - 05:31 AM

Last night I checked my ph though-out the garden with one of those cheap meters , the card that came with it has for potatoes range 5.0-6.8   with optimum ph of 5.5-6.4     mine is high too but not as bad as yours it's 6.8 .  I was thinking on seeing what the ph was in the compost pile and if lower I will use that when I hill up the plants .I planted the potatoes by making a furor and laying them in about 15" apart and covering them so they start a few inches below the surface so I have some dirt to hill with .  I'm not sure if I hill mine correctly but when the plant is pretty big 10-12"  I'll run the David Bradley with the hilling shovels . Did you do a soil test ? I bought one of those kits this spring at the farm store and found out  I was depleted in nitrogen and phosphorus so I that needed to be address first .  I've had some bad years with potatoes , plant 10 lb and harvest 20 lb lol    

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Posted April 28, 2016 - 06:35 AM

I've grown potatoes a couple years ago, and I am growing them this year I dig a 12'' deep trench and plant seed's 18"apart with eyes up and cover with a couple inches soil repeat as shoots grow until you fill trench back in worked for me nicely .

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#6 Sawdust OFFLINE  

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Posted April 28, 2016 - 07:08 AM

Your soil is way too sweet for potatoes. Organic matter would lower your pH but too slow for you right now. Aluminum Sulfate dissolves & works quickly to lower ph but follow directions. Like mentioned I trench then keep hilling as they grow up. My wife is very persistent on following the Farmers Almanac. One year I never...worst garden we ever had. All leaves no potatoes, tomatoes leafed out good not much fruit,etc. Let us know how you do. Good looking garden & tractors.

Edited by Sawdust, April 28, 2016 - 07:08 AM.

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#7 Auburn David OFFLINE  

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Posted April 28, 2016 - 09:10 AM

I grow them in hay bales and burlap bags here..

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#8 lyall OFFLINE  



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Posted April 28, 2016 - 09:12 AM



good site to look at


from USDA



ph for vegetables


Edited by lyall, April 28, 2016 - 09:16 AM.

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Posted April 28, 2016 - 10:56 AM

You have some nice equipment and that BX is my idea of the perfect homeowners garden tractor.

I have always been partial to AC tractors, and was looking for CA with 3 point when I bought my Ford.

My soil is much like yours clay loam mix.  Potatoes are one of my favorite things to grow.

Being a root vegetable the clay/loam soil needs to be loose enough it does not compact and strangle tuber formation.

I used to flat plant the seed a couple inches below the surface, then hill up to the crown  a few times.

Now I do it a little different, I have a 1500 Ford with 3 point hitch. I use a Middle Buster to dig a trench and drop my cuttings in.

Then I mount my hiller (14 inch discs on a homemade toolbar and cover them).  It takes longer for them to break ground.

But they only need hilled once after they break ground.  Potatoes are the one thing that I find easy to grow on my place.

NOw I have a mental block and can not rember if it is Potassiam  or pot ash that potatoes need a lot of?  There is a lot on the net on growing potatoes so do not add till you check up on that.

Edited by JD DANNELS, April 28, 2016 - 11:33 AM.

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#10 oldedeeres OFFLINE  

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Posted April 28, 2016 - 12:20 PM

Potatoes are about my favourite. Netted Gems for whites, Purple Viking for purple skins, and Sangre for red skins, and I generally try a couple other varieties just to see what they're like. First I double cultivate to loosen up the soil, then make a shallow trench, 6" or so deep, and space the spuds about 18"-24" apart, cut side down, and cover. When the tops are about a foot tall I hill them leaving 4"-6" of top showing. The point of hilling is to prevent the spuds from being exposed and sun burning. If some do grow up out of the ground you can hill them again, but the first time usually solves the problem. I find it easier to plant fairly shallow and hill than to bury them deep and have to dig to China in the fall to get them out. But my method does mean I have to level the row out again either in fall or now before planting in the spring.
As mentioned, do not plant spuds in the same place year after year, and keep them away from tomatoes, planting neither of them where either was planted the year before. They are of the same family and carry the same diseases and require similar nutrients. I would rather have smaller, solid potatoes than huge but wet and hollow ones, so I let nature do the watering. Finally, ,they seem to prefer a lean soil, getting scabby if over fertilized. At least, these have been my observations.... don't know if scab is a fungus, virus, or has environmental causes.
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#11 JBRamsey OFFLINE  

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Posted May 02, 2016 - 07:10 PM

Plant in a trench. Hill them as they grow. Rotate the plantings. Side dress with 10-10-10'or whatever you have before your first hilling.

Contact the local extension office. They usually do soil samples for free.
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#12 shorty ONLINE  



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Posted May 02, 2016 - 09:21 PM

I usually plant in a shallow furrow. Then hill once or twice. I haven't gotten it down pat yet on what is the best. My gardening methods pretty much follow how my parents do.
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#13 skyrydr2 OFFLINE  



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Posted May 03, 2016 - 03:35 AM

Scabby taters are from to high a pH, this makes the skins tougher, lower pH with pine straw or feed your taters with rodadendron food from miracle gro works pretty well on a small patch. You can plant taters on the same patch but yuo need to work that soil hard core to really mix it up. 2 years of taters and then 3 years of squash or lettuce, something neutral that doesn't mind an acid base and can be planted under plastic mulch.... This kills off soil born yuckies...
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    Make Stuff Up

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Posted May 03, 2016 - 07:24 AM

I make hills with my 2 disk hiller, I drive slower so the hill has a V (row) in it, I then drop my potatoes in 2 feet apart and then make another pass going as fast as I can with the hiller to cover the potatoes. After the potatoes are a inch or two tall, I cover them with straw, I completely cover the plant, when the potatoes come up through the straw cover them again. I normally cover them twice but you can probably cover them more if you had the time and straw.


I have found if I plant on hills my potatoes never rot, whenever I plant on flat ground or in a trench they either rot or just not do as good. If you look at all of the commercial growers, they all plant on hills.


The first 3 pictures are from this year, the last picture is last years potatoes, this year we planted 150lbs of seed, giving us 16 80' rows. Our potatoes are just coming up, we have gotten straw on 2 rows when it started raining, now waiting for the mud to dry, hoping to get the straw on before the next rain.

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#15 propane1 ONLINE  

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Posted May 03, 2016 - 10:23 AM

BTS , that looks great. I'd like to have a set of those hiller disks.

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