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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.
I've done some research to see if I can find something immediate to help you with the lanternflies that is organic. The Beauveria bassiana that Nicky mentioned on the call has actually been tested against lanternflies in PA with some good results, so I've linked in the article with the research.
It's a bit hard to find cheaply; I've found a link with a reasonable price here, but not sure how good the company is.
Apparently, the spotted lanternflies target the sap of fruit trees and grape vines, so they don't really target the leaves. The problem is when they pierce the stems, sticky sap pours out that then attracts other insects and fungi that cause real problems for the fruit trees and grape vines.
They only mate once per year, and their cocoons look a bit like wasp nests. Unfortunately they can place their nests anywhere, under furniture or on metal or plastic surfaces. I think neem can be effective as well, but it looks like you definitely want to try to control them in the nymph stage.
I hope this information helps; they were first spotted in 2014 in Pennsylvania so there isn't a lot of research on natural predators or organic alternatives aside from the beauvaria fungus. Definitely please let us know how it goes.