Category Archives: Planting

GROWING YOUR OWN SPUDS

Growing potatoes in your garden can be lots of fun. With the variety of types and colors available, planting potatoes can add interest to your garden. Learn how to grow potatoes and when to plant potatoes in your yard with these simple steps.
When to Plant Potatoes
When growing potato plants (Solanum tuberosum), it is important to keep in mind that potatoes are cool weather vegetables. The best time when to plant potatoes is in early spring. Planting potatoes two to three weeks before your last frost date will produce the most satisfactory results, but they can be planted any time until mid-June on Long Island.
What are Seed Potatoes?

Seed potatoes are grown specifically to be used for planting, and it is a good idea to use USDA certified seed potatoes. This will be the most direct route to a healthy, disease free crop of spuds, but these seed potatoes can also be quite pricey.

Although a cheaper idea, attempting to use supermarket potatoes for seed is not always successful, as they are usually treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting during storage; hence, they may not sprout after planting. But hey, why not give it a try if you can’t find seed potatoes?

A growing potato is an undemanding plant. They need very little other than mild temperatures and soil, which is why they have been a historic food staple. Planting potatoes normally starts with a seed potato. Seed potatoes can be prepared for planting by either planting whole or cutting up the seed so that there are one or two buds or “eyes” on each piece.

There are many ways to plant potatoes:

Straight in the ground – Farming operations and large plantings of potatoes are normally planted this way. This method for growing potatoes means that seed potatoes are planted 1 inch under the soil. As the growing potato plants get larger, the soil is mounded up around the plants.

Straw– Growing potatoes in straw may seem unusual but it is very effective. Lay out a loose layer of straw and put the seed potatoes in the straw. When you see the growing potato plants, cover them with additional straw. Harvesting Potatoes Much like when to plant potatoes, the best time to harvest potatoes is when the weather is cool. Wait until the foliage on the plants has died back completely in the fall. Once the foliage is dead, dig the roots up. Your growing potatoes should be full sized and scattered through the soil. Once the potatoes have been dug up from the soil, allow them to air dry in a cool, dry place before storing them.

Read more at Gardening Know How: How To Grow Potatoes: When To Plant Potatoes https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/potato/how-to-grow-potatoes-when-to-plant-potatoes.htm

So, yes, you can save your own seed potatoes for planting the next year. Commercial growers tend to use the same fields year after year, which increase the chance that diseases will infect the tubers. The home gardener using their own seed potatoes would be wise to rotate their potato crops, or any member of the Solanaceae family [2] (among these are tomato [3] and eggplant [4]) if at all possible. Maintaining a weed-free area around the plants will also aid in retarding disease as will sowing in organic rich, well draining soil.

How to Save Your Own Seed Potatoes

Your seed potatoes will need a rest period before planting. The rest period induces sprouting, but improper storage can precipitate premature sprouting. Temperature fluxes can precipitate these premature sprouts, so it is important to practice proper seed potato storage.

Harvest potatoes that you wish to use next year as seed potatoes and brush off, don’t wash, any dirt. Place them in a cool, dry are of around 50 F. (10 C.). Three to four weeks prior to planting, put the potatoes in an area with brighter light, such as a sunny window or beneath grow lights. The seed potatoes should be maintained at a high humidity during this period. Covering with moist burlap bags will aid in initiating sprouting [5] as well.

Small potato seed can be planted whole, but large spuds must be cut. Each seed piece should contain at least two or three eyes and weigh around 2 ounces. Plant in rich, well draining soil [6]with an all purpose fertilizer worked into the top 6 inches. Most people plant seed potatoes [7] in hills and it is a good idea to apply a thick layer of organic mulch [8] (grass clipping, straw, or newspaper) around the plants. Hills should be 10-12 inches apart in rows 30-36 inches apart. Irrigate the hill well each week — about 1-2 inches of water at the base of the plant.

For the best results using your own seed potatoes, proper storage is crucial, allowing the tuber time to rest. Select potato varieties that are tried and true, such as heirloom varieties that our grandparents grew and routinely saved for their own seed potatoes.

Practice crop rotation [9], especially if the plot has been planted with any member of the Solanaceae family in the last three years.

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IS IT POSSIBLE TO KEEP YOUR GARDEN FREE FROM WEEDS?

Hmm. That’s a tall order. Weeds common to your garden are naturally suited to the sun, soil, and water conditions of this area. That’s why it’s so hard to get rid of weeds after they’ve taken root.

But if you prevent weed seeds from germinating, your garden can be weed-free. Here are some tips to keep weeds from growing in the first place.

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Design for Bio-Diversity in Your Home Garden

Our ability to feed ourselves, find water, breathe oxygen, is dependent on a bio-diverse environment. The bio-diversity of our planet is declining at an alarming rate due to habitat loss. Human activity is the main reason behind this loss, which is actually good news, because this puts us in a position to do something about it.

Our suburban home gardens are part of an integrated ecological system that either supports bio-diverse habitats that contribute to a healthier, more life sustaining planet or degrades and accelerates its decline. In other words the decisions you make about your home garden has consequences.

Here are some of the gardening practices and landscape design considerations you can adhere to in order to support more bio-diversity and expand a more hospitable habitat for all life on this planet.

  • Design your garden to be hospitable to birds, pollinators and beneficial insect populations by selecting plants that attract and support them.
  • Incorporate plants native to the area to better support native species of wildlife that are dependent on these plants for their survival.
  • Add water to your garden, either through the use of a birdbath, a fountain, a rain garden or a watergarden.

 

 

 

 

  • Limit the use of pesticides in the garden by attracting more beneficial insects
  • Dill, parsley, carrots, chives, basil, and onions are some of the plants you can use in your vegetable garden to repel harmful pests without the use of pesticides.
  • Planting poly-cultural vegetable and flower gardens is an effective way of controlling outbreaks of harmful fungus diseases and destructive insect populations.
  • If pesticide use becomes absolutely necessary opt for those that are the least harmful to beneficial insect populations, pollinators, and wildlife. Insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils are far less damaging to the health of the environment.

It’s Time to Divide! (Day Lilies, That is)

Although day lilies are tough enough to be divided in the summer months, why disrupt your garden while they are blooming? Waiting until  after the flowers are gone makes more sense. If your day lilies were under-performing this year, or seem very crowded, dividing these perennials will entice them to produce more flowers.

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WHO KNEW? EPSOM SALTS FOR YOUR GARDEN?

epsom salts

Most people have heard of Epsom salts and they typically associate it with baths, as this natural salt from Epsom, England is probably best known as a way to help relieve your body’s aches and pains. Or perhaps you’ve even been one of the unfortunate ones who’ve had to use Epsom salts as a laxative. But did you know that Epsom salt can also be an effective gardening tool? Really?

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What is Companion Planting?

Companion gardening is the planting together of plants that have similar growing needs,  to maximize the production of both plants. It is still an experimental field with more research needed, but there are some things we do know and can pass along.

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