Saturday, December 28, 2013

Planting Potatoes

I did a little bit of gardening between the holidays by planting potatoes.  It might be a tad too early but the potatoes were ready.  The time for planting potatoes on the Back Forty in NE Florida is towards the end of next month, but what are a few weeks between potatoes?

I had covered the garden plot with leaves that I had raked up earlier.  I turned the soil to mix in the leaves and the mulch from the compost pile.  They grow best in loose and well-drained soil.  After turning and blending the soil, I made a trench for planting the potatoes.  I actually needed two trenches to plant what I had in the basket.  I also raked up pine straw to blend with the soil to loosely cover the potatoes

The potatoes like a slightly acidic soil and are heavy feeders; meaning they need food to grow, mostly a good dose of garden fertilizer with nitrogen and potassium.  I usually wait until I see greenery before I fertilize letting the potatoes have a chance to establish themselves without the shock of food.

Usually I wait for garden centers to have the potatoes that are specific to the north east Florida.  I don't remember names only that the white and red potatoes are thin skinned.  The potatoes I planted were raised in the Lakeland, Florida, area.

This time, I had bought potatoes from the Farmer's Market on Beaver Street in Jacksonville.  I stored them n newspaper in a basket in the kitchen and they sprouted.  They resemble Russet potatoes but are much smaller and the taste is different, too.

These potatoes did not lend themselves to be cut before planting:  the sprouts were most apparent at one end of the potatoes.

I also bought Kennebec (Maine) potatoes from Orr's Farm in West Virginia and left three (3)
potatoes to sprout.  They sported good sets of eyes all around the potatoes and I also planted them whole.

It is not recommended to use store brought potatoes in the home garden because they may carry diseases and they are also sprayed with "growth inhibitors".  You may have noticed that these potatoes do not sprout, no matter how long they are kept in the crisper in the fridge?

Potatoes in the Trench
Don't hold me to this but I read that one 100-foot row of seed potatoes may produce 150 - 300 pounds of mature potatoes depending on variety, weather condition, and soil condition.  Elsewhere I read that a one square yard may yield 20 pounds of potatoes under the best of growing conditions.

Depending on the variety and growing conditions, it will take 14 days for Irish Potatoes to germinate and 60 to 90 to maturity.

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