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Soil disturbance and potatoes

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  • Mike Gibbons
    Hi I am growing my first crop of potatoes. I decided to harvest some today and figured out that I disturbed the soil quite a lot looking for the tubers. Now,
    Message 1 of 7 , Nov 30, 2004
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      Hi
      I am growing my first crop of potatoes. I decided to harvest some
      today and figured out that I disturbed the soil quite a lot looking
      for the tubers.
      Now, disturbing the soil to such a depth is a 'bad thing', right?
      How would I grow potatoes and harvest them without digging so deeply?
      Thanks.
      Mike
    • BT Benjaminson
      As the plant grows you keep piling mulch around it and a lot of the potatoes will then grow inside the mulch. BT Benjaminson ... From: Mike Gibbons
      Message 2 of 7 , Nov 30, 2004
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        As the plant grows you keep piling mulch around it and a lot of the potatoes
        will then grow inside the mulch.
        BT Benjaminson

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Mike Gibbons" <mikegbbns@...>
        To: <fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 2004 7:37 AM
        Subject: [fukuoka_farming] Soil disturbance and potatoes


        >
        >
        >
        > Hi
        > I am growing my first crop of potatoes. I decided to harvest some
        > today and figured out that I disturbed the soil quite a lot looking
        > for the tubers.
        > Now, disturbing the soil to such a depth is a 'bad thing', right?
        > How would I grow potatoes and harvest them without digging so deeply?
        > Thanks.
        > Mike
        >
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        > Yahoo! Groups Links
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      • Andres Rattur
        Hello, Mike and other list members! One such possibility is to grow potatoes under a layer (ca 10-20 cm thick ) of straw, leaves, other organic materials,
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 1, 2004
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          Hello, Mike and other list members!

          One such possibility is to grow potatoes under a layer (ca 10-20 cm thick ) of straw, leaves, other organic materials, compost, etc.

          Just put potatoe on the ground (no digging is required) cover it with a layer of organic material and wait, usually there is no necessary in additional care, sometimes only if grass grows through straw and gets to high, it should be cut. In autumn remove straw and harvest big, nice looking potatoes without digging our precious mother Earth. Potatoes are under straw heap like small clean pigs near their sow.

          Of course with this method, it is important not to take away nutrients, which are contained in straw from one field to other. Doing it, the field from which straw is taken will become poor of nutrients and humus, etc. I think that the straw should be grown on the same place, where you plan to plant potatoes. First on the field should be grown some grain culture from which will get straw. Next year we can plant potatoes under previous year's straw. With second year some part of straw will decompose and on the third year there can be grown again some other culture than potatoe. I think that this way nutrients will stay on this field and there will become some sort of crop rotation.

          With best wishes,
          Andres



          > Hi
          > I am growing my first crop of potatoes. I decided to harvest some
          > today and figured out that I disturbed the soil quite a lot looking
          > for the tubers.
          > Now, disturbing the soil to such a depth is a 'bad thing', right?
          > How would I grow potatoes and harvest them without digging so deeply?
          > Thanks.
          > Mike
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >

          -----------------------------------------
          ITV - Sinu lemmiksaated internetis!
          http://www.itv.ee
        • Stephen Inniss
          I ve been working out a Fukuoka-like system for potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) over the past couple of years. There s just no way to get around the fact that you
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 2, 2004
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            I've been working out a Fukuoka-like system for potatoes (Solanum
            tuberosum) over the past couple of years. There's just no way to get
            around the fact that you will have to dig for them, unless you want to
            bury them under mounds of mulch. Leaving aside the fact that this isn't
            very much like the way root crops grow in nature, it takes quite a bit
            of mulch, which you must get from somewhere else on your land.

            I grow potatoes right in the dirt, and I let white clover grow between
            the potato plants after I've put the potatoes in and after the potatoes
            have died down and been dug up. At first, this means scattering some
            white clover seed, or you will have a mess of buttercups and other weeds
            that inhibit the potatoes. The white clover does its usual bit of
            preventing erosion and preventing invasion by various weeds, and helps
            enrich the soil as well. The year after the potatoes, I sow vegetables
            in the patch of clover and harvest the vegetables and the inevitable
            volunteer potatoes. I'm still watching and trying out different things
            to see what is best for the third year, but of course in the end the
            plot will go back to potatoes. This isn't yet a full cycle like
            Fukuoka's grain fields; I'm still working out details and species
            combinations and timing, and looking for side effects. I'll be able to
            tell you more in a decade or two.

            I don't believe that digging for your food is such a bad thing. It
            happens all the time in nature. Just watch pigs foraging, for instance.
            It's just that turning over the soil every year on a whole plot of land
            just to get rid of a few weeds is a poor management technique.

            Stephen

            Mike Gibbons wrote:

            >Hi
            >I am growing my first crop of potatoes. I decided to harvest some
            >today and figured out that I disturbed the soil quite a lot looking
            >for the tubers.
            >Now, disturbing the soil to such a depth is a 'bad thing', right?
            >How would I grow potatoes and harvest them without digging so deeply?
            >Thanks.
            >Mike
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >




            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Andres Rattur
            Hello, Lubo! I haven t jet had such possibility to grow potatoes under straw, but here in Estonia (small country in Europe) I know at least two persons who
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 2, 2004
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              Hello, Lubo!

              I haven't jet had such possibility to grow potatoes under straw, but here in Estonia (small country in Europe) I know at least two persons who have tryied this and it came out very well. One other friend has grown potatoes near sea under seatang (seaweed, tang), because at her field there is only a small layer of humus (<10 cm). She is also pleased with this method and her potatoes grow nicely this way.

              I read about growing potatoes under straw from russian article, where it has been an old tradition.

              I haven't heard about any damage by rodents. I don't know in what climate do you live. If rodents damage your harvest maybe their amount is in your area to high and there is not enough natural enemies, who would keep their quantity at the right level. Maybe for you it would be possible to get yourself a cat. Or make living places for weasels.

              With best regards,
              Andres


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            • pollywog
              ... Although many folk use the mulch/aboveground type of tuber raising as she did, I will not enquire as to how many enjoy doing it in the nude, as she did.
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 2, 2004
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                ---I have visions of one of my favorite garden gurus, Ruth Stout.
                Although many folk use the mulch/aboveground type of tuber raising as
                she did, I will not enquire as to how many enjoy doing it in the nude,
                as she did. <G>

                I plant potatoes in the soil. I have used the Stout (mulch-only)
                method, and was not particularly pleased; although I certainly do use
                mulch for the taters that peek up through the soil. As Stephen (I
                think?) said, that is how root veggies grow naturally.

                I think it is the broad disturbance of the soil, rather than the
                specific dig areas, that proves to be the problem. That is one reason,
                I think, for the idea of rotation. Just as Mom Nature does it. She
                will grow good grasses and clovers and such right in with the tubers-
                arrowroot, groundnut, potatoes, etc., and those critters that
                naturally go for the tubers for food will indeed disturb the soil
                where they dig. I have seen stands of arrowroot, for example, slowly
                move a few feet at a time over the years, as some is dug up, and the
                outer tubers and parts, not harvested, create more plants. Natural
                rotation, if you please.

                In the case of pigs, I have mixed feelings. A (domestic) pig that
                "visited" here last year sure wasn't sniffing out potatoes, and it did
                plenty of plowing as a matter being a pig. He was not exactly a
                welcome visitor, after I tripped over one of his burrows early one
                morn and he damaged the siding of my already pathetic domicile. <G>
                But, the almost surgical precision of many other critters' root
                harvest, is amazing to come across.

                That is one reason we grow a good diversity of crops. It's not the
                digging itself, it is the large areas of uneeded disturbance, that
                creates a problem. At least, that is what I am thinking after paying
                closer attention.

                As far as rodents: we have fox, coyote, and other rodent-eating
                critters in abundance here; I catch glances of one of my favorite
                foxes often when working in the garden, looking at me through the
                perimeter plant growth. Those voles and mice still have themselves a
                great time in their mulch tunnels. In some ways, I think the
                mulch-only technique of growing root crops possibly creates an
                imbalance in itself.

                The idea is to observe, and adjust to how Mom Nature is telling you to
                get things done; according to Her dictates, and as as best as you can
                fulfill them. deb

                In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Andres Rattur <Andre66@h...> wrote:
                > Hello, Lubo!
                >
                > I haven't jet had such possibility to grow potatoes under straw, but
                here in Estonia (small country in Europe) I know at least two persons
                who have tryied this and it came out very well. One other friend has
                grown potatoes near sea under seatang (seaweed, tang), because at her
                field there is only a small layer of humus (<10 cm). She is also
                pleased with this method and her potatoes grow nicely this way.
                >
              • jo li
                Hello all, Here in the midwest of the u.s. (missouri) my wife and I planted potatoes using the mulch method. We simply lay down a thick layer of wet newspaper
                Message 7 of 7 , Dec 6, 2004
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                  Hello all, Here in the midwest of the u.s. (missouri)
                  my wife and I planted potatoes using the mulch method.
                  We simply lay down a thick layer of wet newspaper to
                  smother the grass and weed, lay the seed potatoes on
                  top of the wet newspaper and covered with a 1 foot (30
                  cm) layer of straw. they grew beautifully, maybe just
                  a tiny bit smaller, but absolutely delicious. Only
                  issue is to check straw periodically to make sure
                  potatoes themselves are covered and not exposed to
                  sunlight, only the foliage above. cheers, John
                  --- pollywog <debhlv@...> wrote:

                  >
                  > ---I have visions of one of my favorite garden
                  > gurus, Ruth Stout.
                  > Although many folk use the mulch/aboveground type of
                  > tuber raising as
                  > she did, I will not enquire as to how many enjoy
                  > doing it in the nude,
                  > as she did. <G>
                  >
                  > I plant potatoes in the soil. I have used the Stout
                  > (mulch-only)
                  > method, and was not particularly pleased; although I
                  > certainly do use
                  > mulch for the taters that peek up through the soil.
                  > As Stephen (I
                  > think?) said, that is how root veggies grow
                  > naturally.
                  >
                  > I think it is the broad disturbance of the soil,
                  > rather than the
                  > specific dig areas, that proves to be the problem.
                  > That is one reason,
                  > I think, for the idea of rotation. Just as Mom
                  > Nature does it. She
                  > will grow good grasses and clovers and such right in
                  > with the tubers-
                  > arrowroot, groundnut, potatoes, etc., and those
                  > critters that
                  > naturally go for the tubers for food will indeed
                  > disturb the soil
                  > where they dig. I have seen stands of arrowroot, for
                  > example, slowly
                  > move a few feet at a time over the years, as some is
                  > dug up, and the
                  > outer tubers and parts, not harvested, create more
                  > plants. Natural
                  > rotation, if you please.
                  >
                  > In the case of pigs, I have mixed feelings. A
                  > (domestic) pig that
                  > "visited" here last year sure wasn't sniffing out
                  > potatoes, and it did
                  > plenty of plowing as a matter being a pig. He was
                  > not exactly a
                  > welcome visitor, after I tripped over one of his
                  > burrows early one
                  > morn and he damaged the siding of my already
                  > pathetic domicile. <G>
                  > But, the almost surgical precision of many other
                  > critters' root
                  > harvest, is amazing to come across.
                  >
                  > That is one reason we grow a good diversity of
                  > crops. It's not the
                  > digging itself, it is the large areas of uneeded
                  > disturbance, that
                  > creates a problem. At least, that is what I am
                  > thinking after paying
                  > closer attention.
                  >
                  > As far as rodents: we have fox, coyote, and other
                  > rodent-eating
                  > critters in abundance here; I catch glances of one
                  > of my favorite
                  > foxes often when working in the garden, looking at
                  > me through the
                  > perimeter plant growth. Those voles and mice still
                  > have themselves a
                  > great time in their mulch tunnels. In some ways, I
                  > think the
                  > mulch-only technique of growing root crops possibly
                  > creates an
                  > imbalance in itself.
                  >
                  > The idea is to observe, and adjust to how Mom Nature
                  > is telling you to
                  > get things done; according to Her dictates, and as
                  > as best as you can
                  > fulfill them. deb
                  >
                  > In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Andres Rattur
                  > <Andre66@h...> wrote:
                  > > Hello, Lubo!
                  > >
                  > > I haven't jet had such possibility to grow
                  > potatoes under straw, but
                  > here in Estonia (small country in Europe) I know at
                  > least two persons
                  > who have tryied this and it came out very well. One
                  > other friend has
                  > grown potatoes near sea under seatang (seaweed,
                  > tang), because at her
                  > field there is only a small layer of humus (<10 cm).
                  > She is also
                  > pleased with this method and her potatoes grow
                  > nicely this way.
                  > >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >


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