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Plant Answer Line Question
I would like to know how to grow potatoes; how/where best to plant, type of soil, sun/shade requirements, how to tend them, how much fertilizer, when to harvest. I would really like a step-by-step process.
I recommend the book, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades by Steve Solomon (Sasquatch Books, 2007, 6th edition).
The author says it is important to maintain loose soil around the forming tubers so they can expand well. He recommends planting when all danger of frost is past. Your main crop should go in between May 15 and June 1. Plant the seeds in rows 4 feet apart, dropping seeds one foot apart in the row. Your soil should be open, fertile, and moist below the growing row, and very loose, airy and dryish above and around the forming tubers. Cover seed just barely with well-tilled fertile soil, and then gradually hill up a mixture of soil, compost, and decaying vegetation over the growing vines. This cover should remain loose until harvest time. The ideal planting spot is where fava beans have overwintered and been tilled in shallowly. At planting time, sprinkle complete organic fertilizer in a foot-wide band down each future row. Broadcast a half-inch layer of compost over the row.
Seed potatoes should be free of viruses, which means you should purchase certified seeds. The best are "single drops," small potatoes of about 2 ounces each.
When vines appear, they begin rapid growth. When they are 4 inches high, hill them up by using a hoe and scraping a little soil up around the vines. Repeat this process weekly for the first 2 months, and by midsummer you will have continuous mounds about one foot high and 18 inches wide. Vines will begin to fall across the mounds. Now just handpull any weeds, and avoid disturbing the soil.
Varieties recommended are Yellow Finns, Nooksack Cascadian, Red Gold, Caribe, and Kennebec.
Here is some additional growing information from University of California at Santa Cruz's Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.
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April 11 2017 13:50:16