Potatoes to plant....

Hi! So I want to plant your lovely potatoes. I do have a grow bag that I plan to use for a few. But the others I will need to put into the garden plot -- which I don't know if I will keep access to given the current, national situation? I don't know if I can water them enough, although right now i am sure we will get a bunch of water. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much!


  • OK thanks Dave. I was out there yesterday and so no more beetles. I only ever saw one anyway that i took a picture of. i looked under a lot of leaves, and nothing :(

    I put a bunch more straw on the potatoes, just letting some leaves on top stick out. We will see if does anything.

    Thanks a million for your input!

  • I'll post a pic in bug hunt (we are doing a challenge in a few days), but I think I've determined our potato bugs. I knew they weren't colorado potato beetles, because I've had them before on my eggplant (they are fat, round red looking guys that are leaf munching machines). Light row cover I've found works really well with colorado potato beetles, as well as just picking them off when they are small little round red larvae.
    I believe we have 3-line potato beetles, which look a bit like cucumber beetles but don't fly. They are causing some damage to some of the leaves, but I think they are manageable since they don't fly. If you have these guys, just check the underside of your leaves to make sure there isn't a second generation.

  • Hi Dave, wow thanks so much for the amazing response. That great for even a blog post. Sadly I do think it's the colorado potato beetle. I only say one, took a photo and compared it with online photos and I am sure that's it. It was smaller than other bugs I have seen. But still, all my leaves have small holes in them already. I already covered them w more straw, and will cover with even more tomorrow. I'll also buy some kaolin clay right away. Thanks again. Hopefully I can save them. And I'll be sure to put the potatoes under the deck at home. I know you had mentioned that before

  • Hi Dave,

    I put my potatoes in a plastic recycling bin that had been Filled with leaf mulch that was largely composted. I feel like I have run out of space to keep covering the leaves. Should I try transplanting them to a larger area? I have some of those free leaf composting bins that are full of composting/ composted leaves and I could try putting them in there.

    Also, how does one know if bugs are getting the potatoes? Do you dig down and peek at the potatoes growing, or are the bugs just getting the leaves?
  • Hi Ilona,
    I recommend putting the potatoes under the deck in shade/partial shade. After playing with potatoes for a few years, the things I've observed so far is

    • Yield isn't necessarily associated with the amount of full sun they get. I've had potatoes at work yield almost nothing in full sun, and very productive plants at home yield in almost complete shade.
    • Top growth is important (without a healthy top you won't get any potatoes), but the most important thing is the length of time the potato has leafy top growth without flowers. Some small leaf damage from bugs is not a big deal, but fungal infections or complete defoliation by colorado potato beetles (you can tell them apart because they are fat and round and eat the whole leaf) affects the number of potatoes you can get.
    • Variety makes a big difference. I used to try potato varieties from the store or that were recommended for high yield, but got poor results. I found that potatoes don't like a lot of heat (they "bolt"), and that late varieties don't get the length of time in cool weather in northern virginia to be able to produce well. I've trialed the adirondack red before so I'm pretty confident that it yields consistently (potatoes won't get huge but the number is good).
    • I found last year that covering with straw or partially decomposed compost yielded just as much results as covering with soil (hilling). I don't quite understand it rationally yet; all I know is it's much easier to apply straw than soil. The other nice thing is it's easier to dig for potatoes with the straw because you just peel it back and the potatoes are all at ground level instead of buried deep.
    • When it's colorado potato beetles, I try to pick them off early when I see the young beetles, but this year it's some kind of bug I haven't seen before (Nicky has ID'd it). It seems to target several different things (mint, potato leaves, tomato leaves), so I'm not sure if it's a general invasive (like japanese beetles). They look like small red and black beetles; not sure if that is what you're seeing. So far it hasn't been bad enough for me to do anything but if it get's bad I might put some diatomaceous earth or kaolin clay on the leaves.
  • UGH so I see some potato bug damage on my potato seedlings. I covered some w straw and need to put on more. Anything else i can do against them?

  • David, one more question - my potatoes in a bag are growing super crazy, already super high and i have reached the limit in the bag. should i put them in my half shade space under the deck? I cannot have shade on the deck and it gets super high, unless I use shade cloth.

    Also for the one in the ground, can I use leaf compost mixed in with straw??

  • David, so mine are growing well. What can I use as compost? is leaf OK? My plants are getting pretty high already

  • Can they be planted in leaf mulch compost?
  • OK thanks so much. I did plant some of the potatoes in the plot with just my soil and your recommend fungi and fertilizer. We shall see. Perhaps I can dig them back out (I planted them 4 inches deep!) following internet advice...

  • Potatoes are super low maintenance, as long as they are in the right conditions. I recommend partial shade so that they grow through the summer. You just need a very heavy compost or rotted straw layer (up to 12 inches thick) on top of the potatoes (barely cover them in soil then cover with the compost/straw). We filmed a video but I don't know when I'll get to post it so here is a link to the Ruth Stout potato method

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