Thinking About Taters

A couple of days ago I sowed our raised beds with lettuce and tatsoi. The tentative plan is to start planting our transplants in a couple of weeks. Between now and then, if the weather cooperates, we’ll plant our potatoes.

We’ve planted lots of varieties over the years, but beginning last year we decided to just stick with one, our favorite–Yukon Gold.

I also experimented with a new planting method last year and it worked well (and saved lots of labor). This year I plan to plant the entire garden that way.

We also stopped saving our own potato seed. For many years we had planted only saved potatoes from the previous year. But we came up short a couple of years ago and I had to buy a bag of seed potatoes in order to finish and the seed we bought significantly outperformed our saved seed. It could have been a fluke that had nothing to do with our seeds, but that was enough to cause me to start buying seed potatoes again–influenced as well by the fact that a 50 lb bag of seed potatoes costs about 15% of our retail price for potatoes. We usually still have enough leftover potatoes to plant our garden if some catastrophe happens and seed isn’t available, but that is no longer our first choice.

If at all possible I’ll plant on St. Patrick’s Day, the traditional day for planting potatoes. But with rain in the forecast next week that might not happen. Either way, I’m looking forward to having them planted.

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27 comments on “Thinking About Taters

  1. DM says:

    what is your new method for planting potatoes that saved a lot of labor? I need to know 🙂

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  2. Selka says:

    You’re SO far ahead of us. About exactly a month!

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  3. I bought seed potatoes this week and now we are expecting heavy snow on Saturday 😦 Hoping I will still be able to plant next week but will probably be at the end of the week.

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  4. shoreacres says:

    I don’t often eat potatoes, but when I do, I eat Yukon Gold. They’re fabulous. Here’s to a healthy crop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Thanks Linda. Yukon Golds are our favorites too. We came to realize that we were growing multiple varieties just for the sake of having multiple varieties so we decided to just grow the one we like best.

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  5. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, our traditional potato planting date for Nebraska is Good Friday. I haven’t taken a soil temperature yet but I suspect it’s still a bit cool for planting any thing outside yet. The ground temp has to be a solid 45 degrees before cool weather crops can be planted outside. I have an entire 72 seed cel plant planted in lettuce, 20 some cabbages, and about 60 onions to be planted out when the time is right. I started my tomatoes, green peppers, cherry tomatoes, and eggplant which is a 72 seed cell tray. It’s on the heat mat for three days then bottom watered under the grow lights for a month or two.

    The temperature is a cold 19 degrees this morning with freezing rain and snow on the menu for Saturday and Sunday. This really is typical March weather for my area. It can be any weather in March, It can be freezing cold, sweltering hot, rain, snow, tornadoes, floods, you name it. It can happen in March. Fortunately we are not slated for extremely bad weather. I fully expect to be planting in a couple weeks. Then the concern is hail or high winds up through May. Being an experienced gardener, I always keep backup plants through June to replant if the need arises.

    My hope is for the best for all gardeners this year no matter what part of the world we are in.

    Have a great planting day.

    Nebraska Dave
    Urban Farmer
    Omaha, Nebraska, USA

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      March is a wild month here too. We can have summer temps week and a snow storm the next.

      Interesting that you mention Good Friday. My Grandpa always planted his garden on Good Friday. It’s a traditional planting date here too.

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  6. Ed says:

    I used to raise and sell pumpkins commercially for many years and I discovered the new seed always out performed the saved seed too. It also saved me worries about cross pollination. I always suspected it had to do with them being hybrids though not sure why. I didn’t plant any heritage breeds but I always guessed that seeds from them would do just as well as new heritage seeds.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Ed. I know not to try and save seeds from hybrids. I don’t think the potatoes are hybrids and they reproduced true. As I said, my experience may have had nothing to do with the seed being saved versus bought. Another theory I had is that my seed potatoes were older than the bought seed potatoes, which always come from places like Maine and Canada.

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      • Ed says:

        Yukon Gold potatoes are a hybrid created in the early 80’s. But I’m not a botanist by any means and I know seed and tubers are two different things. Age is probably a pretty good theory as well. It certainly has me curious though.

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  7. Ed says:

    Spurred by your post, I googled it and found a pretty good explanation about why saving seeds from an F-1 hybrid is not the same as the original seeds.

    http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/vegetables/SEED.html

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, I managed to get into our allotments this morning Bill, And we have some cauliflower, broccoli, Leeks, cabbage, in the cold frame growing at the moment..
    We usually plant our early potatoes within the next few weeks too.. We buy seed potatoes but often dib in a few small left over ones in between which have sprouted
    We plan to put in Peas and parsnips next..
    Its all systems go now.. 🙂 and I love it.. 🙂

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  9. BeeHappee says:

    Why do you think seed potatoes outperform yours? Or maybe I should just read Ed’s link above. It seems my parents had saved and replanted their potato seed for some 20 years or more, mainly because they are super cheap.

    You got me with potatoes again, off to make some potato pancakes. 🙂

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    • Nita says:

      Potatoes are very susceptible to disease, mostly soil borne, so if you save seed from diseased potatoes (and it’s hard to detect) you are essentially planting the disease the next year right along with your potatoes. The Irish Potato famine is a good example.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Bill says:

      I only did a side by side comparison one year, so I don’t think my sample size is statistically significant. 🙂 Nita mentions disease, and that’s possible, but I didn’t see any sign of disease. I just had a reduced yield (which, come to think of it, may be a sign of disease). Ed’s comment got me to thinking about it and now I’m wondering if the problem might just be the age of my seed potatoes. We harvest in early July, so they’d be pretty old by the time I plant the next March. I’ve noticed that our seed potatoes always come from northern climes like Maine and Canada.

      My Mama used to make us fried potato cakes with leftover mashed potatoes. So good. Haven’t had them in a real long time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Nita says:

    Wow Bill! So far ahead of us out here in Western Oregon! We’ve had 24 days of straight rain. Planting potatoes is a pipe dream for us for a while 🙂

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  11. Laura Wills says:

    I decided not to grow potatoes this year, due to all of the work. I looked at your method, and don’t see how it would work with raised beds 😦 Oh well, one more bed of tomatoes! Good luck with your potatoes.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Well one more bed of tomatoes sounds good to me. 🙂
      I’ve never grown Irish potatoes in raised beds, but I did grow sweet potatoes in them one year and they did great!

      Like

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