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Potato Mulch

Jul 08, 2010

Potato Mulching

If you are in a hot climate mulching your potatoes will preserve water and keep your potatoes cool. Mulch will also step-up your potato production. Potatoes will turn green if they are too close to the surface of the soil and get exposed to the sun, mulch will prevent this problem. Don't eat green potatoes as they are not good for you.

Plant your potatoes in rows three feet apart with the potatoes being twelve to eighteen inches apart in the rows. Plant them in eight inch deep trenches. Slowly hill the potatoes as they grow, always leaving a few inches of the potatoes growing above the soil. When the trench is full we keep hilling the potatoes until the mound of dirt around them is 10-12 inches high. If you have enough  organic compost you can use that  in your trenches or hills instead of hilling them up with soil. This will step-up this years potato yield and will also increase your long term soil fertility.

When the potatoes grow a foot or so tall above the dirt hills we mulch with a thick layer of grass leaving the potato tops showing above the mulch. With time and as you water, the mulch will compact and you may need to add more mulch if you did not mulch deep enough the first time. If you see any potatoes growing above the soil then you know you did not mulch deep enough.

Much in between the potato plants and on both sides of the beds. Some people like to mulch their potato beds before their plants have grown letting the potatoes just grow through the mulch. Don't mulch too thickly, if your mulch is dense or too thick the potatoes will have a hard time pushing through it. Your organic gardening guide can answer any gardening questions you may have.

"Plant today, gardeners way"

Farmer Dave

Comments

I bought the book Lasagna Gardening and decided to try that with potatoes. The book says to put 10 inches of straw on top of the seed potatoes. How long before the potato plants emerge from that amount of straw? Also, I'm in zone 5a, do they wait until it gets warm enough before they really start to grow?
I planted the potatoes on April 14 and saw the first one push through the straw on June 1. So let's say, 45 days. Although that might have been influenced by excessive cool, wet weather this spring. Perhaps if it weren't for that, it would have been a week or so earlier. I have gradually seen more sprouts pop out since then... not all I planted, yet, though.
Great Blog. I tried the trench white potatoes patch this year. I have not dug the patch yet. But I like the ideal that the deep(8-12 inches/20-30 cm) dug bed of rich compost. Barbara on the "Parsnips Blog" Called it carrot soil. That is what I hope to plant in the trench August 1, this fall. Thank you for the clear pic. of your garden & measurments. I will try it in the spring. Laugh & have fun, Joel
Farmer Dave, Your picture of a beautifully mulched potato patch reminds me of some advice I received a few years ago. The advice, corroborated by a few internet articles and now apparently by my own experience, was that Colorado potato beetles will avoid potato plants that have an oat straw mulch (and perhaps other types of straw). In the last four years or so, my potato patch has gone from 'plagued' by the beetles which defoliated the plants year after year, to virtually beetle-free, that is less than ten percent or probably less than one-percent of the number of beetles previously experienced. One has to look hard to find a beetle in the potato patch now, and so the potato crop yield is very much better than before, partly because of this affect and partly due to other benefits of mulching. The straw application is the only cultural thing I can think of that I've done differently that could explain this improvement. - Pumpkin

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