(Please E-mail us your questions or answers)


Grub or Wire Worm Damage

If the potatoes are all ready to harvest, it sounds like the damage has been done for this year. One consolation is that the potatoes can be trimmed and eaten even if they have grub or wire worm damage. The first defense against insects and disease is rotation. We have found that wire worms (small holes) only happen in ground that has been in grass the year before. We have had grub holes in potatoes, but not a significant enough number to make us do anything about it. So put potatoes in ground that was cultivated the year before, but in our opinion, not had potatoes for 3 years. Trim the little holes out, no-one will be the wiser.

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Harvest Date

Q. I planted potatoes in late February or early March. When do I dig them up?

A. I would think you would have the first little potatoes under the plants now (Mid June). When the plants flower, the tubers are starting to form, (not that the flowers have anything to do with the tubers), and within 2-3 weeks they are big as pingpong balls, ready to eat with your new peas, or with cream sauce if you like. When the plants start to “go back” (i.e. turn from dark green to light green and then yellow green), that is a sign that they are putting all their energy into the tubers and at that point the potatoes will probably be pretty good sized under the ground. The exception is the late varieties esp Butte, which sized all at once at the end of the season. So let the late potato varieties have the full season to size (100-120 days).

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Hollow Heart

Q. Even though we planted late and here in Louisiana, the potatoes did wonderfully and all are very delicious. The only problem we encountered was a large brown spot in the center of many of the Reddales. What causes this? Does the spot ruin the whole potato or can it be cut out? What happens if you eat the brown spot?

A. The brown spot at the center is called Hollow Heart. It is caused by the potato growing faster on the outside than on the inside and is only a cosmetic . The potato is fine to eat, just pare out the spot if you need to. It happens more in the Reddale than in other varieties, though it can occur in a lot of different varieties. The way to prevent it is to harvest the potato before it gets so huge, but it IS fun to have huge potatoes!

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Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association

At their site you can find: Technical Services, Crop Certification, Genetic Engineering News, and Pest Reports.

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Planting Date

Potatoes are a cool weather crop. Try to plant at or just before your last frost date, so that when they come up you will be just past the frost. If you do greensprout, a week or two is adequate, even just warming the seed is a real benefit, and be careful to lower the temp to 50 or so after the have broken dormancy, a higher temp will dehydrate them. one of our growers claims that a light misting is beneficial, though we would be careful not to have water dripping off them, as it could spread fungus.

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Seed Dormancy

We harvest the new crop of potatoes in late September and we start shipping orders then. However, since the potatoes are just coming out of the ground, they need a dormancy period of 4-8 weeks before they will sprout. The best conditions to sprout potatoes are about 70 degrees and in the dark. So our seed will not reliably sprout before October or November. I have read that keeping the seed potatoes in a plastic bag with a little moisture will speed up the sprouting.

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Storage Conditions

Q. I have a question about storing potatoes. I’ve always heard that potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator because the cold turns the starch into sugar and that tastes bad. But what about a refrigerator that can be kept around 40 degrees? We have an extra refrigerator and I’d like to use it if possible. We have no root cellar; our basement contains our wood stove, so it is too warm for winter storage of potatoes.

A. The potatoes would store perfectly in the second fridge, just keep the temp around 40. – Megan

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SUBJECT: my potato crop
Much better than last year. Put some whirli-gigs up and kept most moles away to some extent. Actually, because of my mole success, I have a problem I have never faced before: I have a bucket full of fine purple and pink fingerling potatoes that we want to enjoy this Fall and Winter. We have an unheated basement that can get a little damp. The stable is no good because the wild life have taken that over. What is the best way to keep them. Is sand any good?

I noticed one strange thing. I planted the pink fingerlings in 2 stages. The later plantings I had given up on since as soon as their leaves came out, the bugs devoured them down to the stems. I was surprised to find just as many fingerlings there as with my first crop that didn’t suffer the infestation.

I love growing your potatoes. You can be sure I will be back next year.

Thanks for e-mailing me your advice.

If you are going to store them, harvest when fully mature, at least 14 days after the vines have withered dead and the potato skins have thickened. Store simply in bins. wood crates or burlap bags. Ideal storage is soil-like: dark, moist, 38-40 degrees F.

Sounds like the cellar would be best, dampness is no trouble, but freezing is, so watch out for that. – Megan

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How Much Seed

Q. How much seed do I need?

A. If you plant your garden in rows, you need 1 pound of seed for every 10 foot of row. There are a few exceptions: The fingerlings will plant 25 feet of row for each 1 pound of seed. Butte will plant 15 feet of row for each pound of seed.

If you plant in beds, you can plant more densely. A 4 by 8 foot bed will take 2 8 foot rows, or use about 1 and 1/2 pound of seed potatoes.

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Growing potatoes in cages

Comment from a customer: The Reddales we grew last year were wonderful. We used towers (cages with a mixture of chopped leaves and horse manure) made from chicken wire to be more space efficient. This year we will explore varieties from the three moisture categories. We also are avid organic gardeners.Good stuff. RS Chicago

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