Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hold the potatoes!

Tater Time?

Around here folks seem to get really excited about planting potatoes around Easter weekend, but hold your potatoes! It's a bit too early.

Monday brought the delivery of our seed potatoes - I was excited to get them, so we could wake them up and prepare them for planting May 1st.

While the soil is much more workable at this time than the last couple of springs, planting potatoes is more about a suitable environment beneath the soil than just being able to get your tools in the ground.

Soil temp April 7th, Madelia, MN.
Potatoes like to be planted when the soil is 55-60°. The Tuesday soil temp was a chilly 41°, a different field location Monday read 46°.

Two ways to know when to plant your 'taters:

• Use a handy-dandy thermometer, like the one above, and watch for temps to reach 55-60°.

• Use phenology - plant when the first dandelions bloom.

Cool soil, especially cool moist soil, increases the risk of your tubers rotting in the ground. They need a little time to break dormancy, before they begin sprouting, during this time they are more susceptible to rot.

Can't Wait?

If you can't keep your hands off your 'taters and you, like most gardeners, are itching to do garden workm then get your seed potatoes and work on "chitting" (or "greensprouting") them. Chitting potatoes can take 10-14 days off growing time in the field and perhaps increase yield.

We received our potatoes and then promptly stored them in a slightly warmer location to let them "wake up" or break dormancy, and eventually grow little green sprouts.

We are planting six varieties this year, with two new (Mountain Rose and Kennebec) and one new-old variety (Green Mountain), in addition to our current standards - German Butterball, Nicola and Sangre. One-hundred-twenty pounds of seed potatoes.


Simply search for 'chitting potatoes' directions differ slightly from source to source
Growing Potatoes Successfully (The Maine Potato Lady, our seed source)
7 Ways to Grow Potatoes (Rodale's Organic Life)

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