Home Grown Potatoes

Growing your own potatoes is an easy and rewarding gardening experience.growing potatoes
Plant starts in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked.
Potato plants can withstand a light frost, but protect against a hard frost.
Potato plants need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day to produce.
Harvest potatoes in 2-4 months; this depends on your area’s growing season.
Purchase good quality seed potatoes to insure a healthy crop.

Oregon Territorial Seed company in Cottage Grove, Oregon offers some interesting  seed potato varieties:  http://www.territorialseed.com/

  • Dark Red Norland Potatoes
  • Blue Potatoes (Late-season 110-135 days)
  • Yukon Gem Potatoes
  • Desiree Potatoes
  • German Butterball Potatoes
  • Mountain Rose Potatoes
  • Purple Majesty Potatoes

The Rogue Valley Grange Co-ops may have some of these varieties available, too.

Seed Prep:  Seed potatoes are tubers which can be planted whole, but you will get more plants if you cut seed potatoes into sections. Each cut section should contain one or two sprouts; these sprouts are called  eyes.  Each section should have enough potato “meat” around each eye for successful growing.  Therefore,  cut seed potatoes into 2 to 3 inch chunks, with 1-2 eyes in each chunk.  Set these pieces on a protective surface like newspaper to allow cut edges to dry before planting,  usually 24-48 hours.

Planting:
In the ground – Dig a trench 8 inches deep. Plant each seed potato section, 1 inch deep and 12 inches apart. Planting rows should be spaced 3 feet apart.  Place the seed potato cut side down with eye(s) pointing up.  As the plants grow, and when leaves are just starting to break the soil’s surface,  mound another 2 inches of soil on top of the plants.  Repeat this step until the trench is filled with soil,  continue filling until the trench is mounded .    Note:  If your space is limited,  or  if you want only baby potatoes,  you can decrease the spacing between the plants to 7 inches.

Planting in Containers – Note: Containers must be able to drain.
Growing in containers is the same principal as growing in the ground.  Place  6 inches of moistened soil in the bottom of a container.  Plant prepped seed potatoes cut side down with eyes up.  Cover with 2-3 inches of soil. As the potato plants grow keep adding 2-3 inches of soil over the plants.   Repeat this step until the container is full of soil.  You can even stack additional containers on top of the original container, filling those with soil in steps.  The height limit is approximately 3 feet.

Planting in Straw
With this method you don’t have to dig potatoes, you simply pull them out of the straw. Because straw starts to break down as the growing season progresses,  you will need to add straw to maintain a consistent straw depth. In short: Top off your potato bed with straw during the growing season.

Prep potatoes as described above.  Lay out a loose layer of straw 6-inches deep, and place seed potatoes in the straw, cut side down, eyes up.  Cover with 2 inches of straw. When you see the leaves peaking out of the straw, cover them with 2 inches of straw. Then, repeat this until you reached your desired height.

Care:

  • Potatoes should be watered regularly, but do not over water.
  • Keeping tubers covered prevents greening. Potatoes exposed to sunlight turn green, causing the flesh to taste bitter.
  • Feed potato plants regularly throughout the season with a liquid fertilizer.

Harvesting:

  • New potatoes can be picked when foliage is 1-foot high.
  • All potatoes are harvested after plant foliage dies.
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April in the garden

In Ashland, Oregon the last frost date is approximately May 15th.

Sow seeds in your greenhouse, or indoors,  for transplanting  after May 15th.
Basil, Cabbage, Peppers, Summer Squash, Winter Squash, Pumpkin, Tomato, etc.
Flowers;  Sunflowers, Cosmos, Marigolds , Zinnia, etc.

If the soil is not too wet, you can sow the following vegetables seeds directly into the garden. Once seedlings emerge protect them from spring frost.  Lettuces, Cauliflower, Spinach, Chinese Cabbage, Broccoli, Peas, Chard, Carrots, Turnips, Parsnips, Leeks, Kohlrabi, Beets, Radishes.

You can plant onion sets up until 4/15. And, you can still plant raspberries and strawberries plants.
Fertile flowerbeds, shrubs, trees and grass.
Start baiting for slugs, snails and earwigs.
Watch out for spittle bugs and aphids on your existing strawberry plants.
Watch out for aphids on all plants in the landscape.

  • Home remedy for Aphid Control: Mix a teaspoon of vegetable oil, a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and a cup of water. Or, mix three tablespoons of liquid soap and a gallon of water. Spray to wet the entire plant thoroughly, particularly the undersides of leaves, because aphids must come into contact with the soap solution to be affected. After a few hours, wash off the oil and soap with a garden hose to protect sensitive plants. Repeat the application every few days as necessary.
  • Control spittle bugs by blasting spittle bug foam off plants with water. Repeat as necessary.

Pruning shrubs & trees should be completed by now!

Gardening Tips

February:  Preparing to plant in the Rogue Valley

wet-soil

Soil: too wet

Grab a handful of your soil, if you can form it into a ball, the soil is too wet for planting and chances are the seeds will rot in the ground. Plant only when the soil crumbles and falls apart after you squeeze it.

Soil pH: Use a pH soil test kit to test your soil. Kits are available at most garden centers. If you soil is too alkaline, above ph7, then incorporate lime into your soil. Lime is best added in the fall, but you can still do this in early spring. Apply Lime early in February, then a week later add in fertilizer.  Both materials should be incorporated into the soil 6 to 8 inches. Wait at least a week after applying fertilizer before planting seeds.

More about modifying soil pH here…
http://www.sunset.com/garden/garden-basics/acid-alkaline-soil-modifying-ph

You can direct sow the following seeds in your garden mid-to-late February, if the soil is no too wet and temperatures are staying above 20 degrees!
Peas, non-enation resistant varieties
Early varieties radish
Spring Spinach
Fave beans
Mustard
Spanish Onions (the most common onion is the USA),

Sow the seeds listed below, indoors or in a greenhouse in February for transplanting into the garden in 6-8 weeks:
Lettuce
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Bok Choy
Pac Choi
Mustard
Cabbage
Kale
Leeks

Article by Carlotta Lucas
Reference: Gardening Year ‘Round, Month by Month in the Rogue Valley and environs, A guide for Family Food Production by the Jackson County Master Gardeners Association
Wet soil photo courtesy of The Sedgwick County Extension Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden, Wichita KS

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