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Save potatoes from the beetle?

Hi, I have been wondering about this - is there a way to save my potatoes from the P beetle? They got into a lot of my leaves that are not in straw, at least. Should I take the straw off and check leaves below? Or leave alone? How would I get any flowers on the remaining leaves?

I'd really appreciate your input! Thanks :)


  • Thanks so much for this, @Nicky Schauder and @David Schauder. So appreciate all your input.

  • I think even if you don't get flowers, you can still get pretty good potato production. Remember, the main thing we're after with potatoes is the root crop, so I'm perfectly happy with poor-looking top growth as long as there are lots of nice potatoes in the ground. The first few years I tried potatoes, we'd get huge top growth and then I'd get excited only to dig out only 1-2 potatoes per plant. A lot of that was the varieties that we chose initially; a few years ago we did a research project at our school garden with 6 promising varieties and found out that there is a huge variability in the production of different types of potatoes (you want this balance between number of tubers and size; too many tubers means tiny little potatoes, a few big potatoes is not good either). The Adirondack Red is very reliable; the potatoes won't get huge, but it generally produces at least 5-6 potatoes per plant. The Yukon Gem is a new variety we're trying out to replace Pinto Gold; Pinto Gold produced very tasty potatoes, but it seemed more inconsistent in it's production and was hard to find organic.

    The straw is mainly there to fool the potato into thinking that it's soil. The potato then will produce potatoes in the straw, which is much easier to dig for than in the dirt (where we can accidentally cut the potatoes when we are digging them up).

    I just rooted around the base of some of our backyard potato plants and was able to quickly get a pound of baby new potatoes with no digging. I'll go back later to those same plants and dig in the soil, but unlike sweet potatoes that are kind of easy to dig out of the soil, potatoes can be a bit of a pain when the soil is dry.

    Nicky Schauder
  • I don't think straw is the issue, Ilona. I could be wrong, but potatoes for some reason really like straw and will grow right through the straw so it will be easy for you to harvest.

    Definitely keep them watered this week as the weather will be dry. Maybe daily? Or every other day due to heat and water in the mornings or evenings, not when it's super hot.

    Finally, you are always free to root around and check to see if you can find small potatoes to eat.

    You got this, Ilona! Potatoes coming soon! We just had small ones this morning for breakfast.

  • Thanks Nicky. I have been thinking -- maybe I put too much straw. I pretty much only have leaves that look like they got holes. I am starting to wonder how they will ever flower? I just hope too there are some potatoes growing below :)

    How much water do you put on your potatoes? Less bc of the straw right?

  • My potatoes have a leaves with lots of holes and brown spots too, but I'm hoping against hope down below it's alright.

  • Ok thanks. will do that and see what David says. Thanks os much. My leaves have tons of holes.

    Nicky Schauder
  • Hi Ilona, I'll let @David Schauder weigh on this more, but right now, I am noticing the potato beetles and physically squashing or removing them. I'm also depending on the rest of the garden bugs to eat it up. That being said, I definitely have a lot of holes in my potatoes. This may well affect the final potato size, but I won't know until we pick the potatoes. I wouldn't take the straw off necessarily, but I would try to let your cilantro go to see, your carrots and parsley go to seed around the potato so that they attract the parasitic wasps that will eat the colorado potato beetles?

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