Table of contents:
Video: A New Way Of Planting Potatoes
Record potato harvest
Continuing the conversation about the vegetable-potato crop rotation developed by me and used for more than one year on the garden plot (see "Flora Price" No. 7-8, 2007), I will tell you about growing potatoes in it.
Its introduction into vegetable crop rotation contributed to the restoration and increase of the fertility of the beds and the successful fight against their infestation. In the garden, conditions have been created that exclude the possibility of accumulation in the soil of potato golden nematode, pathogens of scab, rhizoctonia, wireworm and other eternal companions of potatoes in "monoculture".
With traditional planting of tubers, the potato plant is a multi-stem bush (3-5 or more stems). Moreover, each stem has its own leaf apparatus, its own root system, but the total feeding area, limited by the adopted agricultural technology. During the period of tuberization of about three weeks, the plant ties a large number of small nodules on each of the stems, but only 2-4 of them reach normal size.
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The rest are absorbed. There are several reasons for this phenomenon. The main one has long been named by Charles Darwin - the struggle of stems in a common nest for survival. Additional, most tangible reasons are root trauma during hilling, trampling of the soil in the aisles when caring for plants, uneven placement of plantings (densely in rows, empty in rows).
The new method of planting potatoes provides for "layering" as planting material - stems grown from sprouts and separated from the tuber, which significantly reduces the consumption of seed tubers and has a healing effect on the tubers of the new crop. Layers are planted in the beds, which eliminates trampling, waterlogging and hilling. The latter is replaced by mulching with the whole complex of positive phenomena inherent in this agronomic technique.
I do the marking of the planting holes, as for many vegetable crops, according to the scheme of an equilateral triangle. Practice has shown that for layering, the most suitable triangle with sides of 20 cm.It ensures the most efficient use of the entire area of the garden, and the location of potato plants with mathematical precision at equal distances in all directions from each other reduces the intensity of intraspecific struggle between potato plants.
The choice of variety and the quality of varietal tubers are of great importance. The variety must be zoned for our climatic region. It must be 100% genuine, and tubers are desirable large - 100 g or more, elite, without flaws (the larger the tuber, the more stems grow on it). It is better to purchase the original tubers from the authors of the variety or in specialized stores.
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How many tubers should I order?
Before calculating the required number of tubers, I deliberately allowed a little liberty when marking the holes: the 1st and 14th rows are close to the ends of the beds by 3 cm.As a result, 14 rows were formed on it, which will accommodate 77 holes for planting layering. My beds are the same and have the following dimensions: length 2.4 m, width 1.2 m, that is, their area is 2.88 m². Crop rotation for potatoes provides for five ridges. Then it turns out that I need to plant 385 layers on all the beds. That is how much I cook and the same number of planting holes.
It is known that a large varietal elite tuber is able to drive out and give up 8-10 stems (layering) in one harvest. When re-germinating for the second removal - 6-8 more stems. Let's take into account, respectively, 9 + 7 = 16 stems from one tuber for two removals. Simple arithmetic gives us the following result: 385: 16 = 25 tubers. That is, ideally I need so many tubers to provide the beds with layering. Of course, for insurance, I also sprout reserve tubers.
The plan-scheme of my crop rotation provides for the late summer sowing of daikon on the vacated potato beds after harvest. Therefore, I will additionally order tubers of a new early variety. I will carry out the removal and planting of layers once. I plan to complete the harvesting of tubers no later than July 20-25.
Since autumn, I have selected 25 large (120 g) tubers of the early grade Snegir, the highest-yielding in our region, for layering. Its yield is up to 628 kg / ha. The number of tubers on one stem is 5-6 pieces. Tubers are pink, oval. The eyes are small, pink, the flesh is white.
In addition, I will order and purchase from scientists the tubers of the new Liga variety. This variety is early, versatile, high-yielding. The taste is excellent, it is resistant to crayfish and potato nematode. It is relatively resistant to late blight. Tubers are white, oval. Since 2005, it has been undergoing a state test. Previously, in this position, I had a variety of excellent taste - Naiad, but it was ripe only by September. We have to replace it. I will order 25 Liga tubers.
However, is it worth the candle? Will the labor costs of forcing the shoots pay off? Let us, dear readers, calculate together with you: what kind of harvest can be expected with this technology? In the calculations, we use the initial digital data of scientists published in the encyclopedic reference "Bulba", Minsk, 1994.
So, we are planting 385 stems on an area of 14.4 m². 4-7 stolons are formed on one stem (5.5 on average). One stolon - one large tuber weighing about 110 g. As a result, the yield of the stem itself will be 110 g x 5.5 = 600 g = 0.6 kg. In this case, the harvest from all 385 stems will be 231 kg! The yield will turn out: 231 kg: 14.4 m² = 16 kg / m²! This is in theory, taking into account the data given in the encyclopedic reference.
For comparison: my harvest of potatoes in the 2006 season was 187.2 kg, and the yield was 187.2 kg: 14.4 m² = 13 kg / m². This is practice. My friend by correspondence, a potato grower from the Kemerovo region V.G. Gorelov's yield was 14 kg / m². This result was entered in the Guinness Book of Records for 1989. I read about it myself in the Public Library.
Autumn preparation of ridges
It consists in post-harvest loosening and collection of plant residues of predecessors. Also during this period, I introduce a peat mixture into the soil (4 buckets per garden bed) with the addition of ash, and sometimes sawdust. I do it like this: with a shovel, I break through a groove 4-5 cm deep across the bed.
I pour the extracted soil into a bucket and scatter evenly over the entire groove 12 tablespoons of ash, and I add peat compost with a trowel - 1/3 of the bucket; while digging the next groove, I cover the first with soil from the second. When peat compost and ash are introduced into the last (12th) groove, I fill it with soil first, which was collected in a bucket. I definitely prepare a place for planting tubers in spring, from which the layers were removed, at the rate of 4 tubers per 1 m².
Light germination of tubers
In the spring, in the second half of March, I wash the tubers in running water. I etch them for 25-30 minutes in a warm (+ 50 ° C) solution of copper sulfate. I add 2 g of powder to one liter of water. Then I start the light germination of the tubers. Its goal is to get as many light thick, short, white shoots as possible on the tubers. During the day, the room where the tubers are located should be as light as possible. At night, so that the sprouts do not stretch, it should be cool + 2 … + 5 ° С.
The sprouts must be protected from burns by direct rays of the sun with screens. I keep my tubers on a glazed loggia. I control the temperature with a thermometer, I regulate it by opening a door or window. In the second half of April, I transfer tubers to gardening. I place them on the veranda (the brightest and coolest place in the house). How many days does light germination take? The longer the better. 20 to 40 days.
At the same time I am preparing a "hotbed". The nursery box 2x1.5 m with sides of 30 cm rests on a pallet, which lies on 75x75 mm bars, which separates it from the cold soil. In the box, since the fall, there has been a solid mountain of soil mixture, covered with a black film. In May, it warms up quickly. Using a board, I separate a part of the nursery 45 cm wide. I put the soil mixture there with a layer of 4-5 cm and lay out the well-sprouted tubers at a distance of 4-5 cm from each other in three rows.
I lay large oval tubers flat, tops in one direction, round and medium-sized oval tubers - tops up. The distance between the tubers in rows is 4-5 cm. I fill them with soil mixture to the top of the hammered board. I pour warm water from a watering can with a fine sieve. I cover the nursery with foil at night.
The soil mixture must be kept moist, but not "wet". About 15 days after the start of wet germination, young stems with 5-6 leaves 8-10 cm high will grow. Forcing is over, and if you are ready to plant the beds, you can remove the layers of the first cut.
Spring preparation of ridges
It begins almost simultaneously with the beginning of wet germination on May 1-5. The first operation is a deep loosening of the soil with a pitchfork, without turning the layer. I level the soil with a small rake. Then I water the beds from a watering can with warm water and cover for two days with a black film to warm the soil.
In a few days, weed shoots will appear on the garden bed, provoked by heating the soil and watering. Two or three days before the planned removal of the cuttings (May 15-20), my wife and I weed the weeds by hand, using only a fork, pulling the weed out by the roots.
After weeding, the marking of the ridges begins. We lay the marking boards. We install the marker by pressing the pins against the marking boards. Click on the marker - the pins entered the soil. After that, the marker is gently lifted and, in compliance with parallelism, is transferred so that the lower pins enter, when pressed, into the tracks from the upper pins. And this continues until the bed is marked out and the places for all layers are determined.
Removal of cuttings
I remove the dividing board from the nursery. Acting with a trowel and hands, I extract the first tuber with young stems without damaging the roots. I take a tuber with one hand and turn it with its roots up. With the fingers of my other hand, I grasp the first stalk at its base and, turning the tuber, separate it. The stalk is removed along with the roots. Sequentially, stem by stem, together with the roots, I separate from the tuber. I put the tubers in a box.
Layers - roots to roots, stems to stems I also put in a box and carry it to the next marked bed. With a scoop I dig the first hole to a depth of about 15 cm with a diameter of about 10 cm. I pour the soil into a baby bucket. I add mineral fertilizer Kemira-potato - 1 teaspoon without a slide. This is approximately 6-7 grams. One package weighing 2.5 kg is just enough for five ridges. In the hole, I must mix the fertilizer with the soil. With my hand, I put the layers into the hole by the leaves so that two leaves are covered.
I spread the roots in all directions with a planting peg. I fill up the soil from a bucket, and as mulch I put chopped straw of pea stalks over the hole. With my hands, I slightly compact the soil around the layer. In a day or two, I make the first liquid top dressing with Kemira-Lux soluble fertilizer. I dissolve one packet (2 g) in 20 liters of water and pour one glass under each layer. The result is excellent, the survival rate of cuttings is 100%. Two weeks later I repeat this feeding.
What to do with the tubers from which you have removed the layers? I sow my tubers like ordinary potatoes, on a specially designated plot. They usually give a good harvest afterwards. In the meantime, send them back to wet germination for the second cut, then plant them like regular potatoes.
Between May 15-20, there is usually good warm weather, and later, from May 25 to June 10, cold snaps and even slight morning and night frosts occur. For layering, the temperature of -20C and below is lethal. The sides of my beds have tubes into which I insert wire arcs. At the first threat of frost, I put a film on the arcs.
When the buds begin to set, the tubers are also tied at about the same time. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the frequency of watering, keeping the soil moist. Watering is best done without a watering can. It is better to water with a mug from a bucket under each plant. And instead of hilling during this period, it is imperative to add soil mixture over the entire surface of the ridges about 5 cm thick.
When the leaves of the lower and middle tiers turned yellow and hung and the stems were about to fall, I cut them with a hand pruner at the level of the soil surface. With long stems, but no leaves, I leave only 2-3 bushes in the garden. I dry the cut tops and burn them in the garden oven for ash. After a week I pull out one bush by the stems. If the stem comes out without tubers, you can start digging. Came out with tubers - rub one of them with your fingers. Dig early if the skin is peeled.
I dig tubers in good weather. I use a small pitchfork for this. I dry my tubers in the open air, weigh them, send them to the attic, where I scatter them in small boxes in 2-3 layers. They lie in the dark, falling into a period of natural rest, and slowly cool down, preparing for long-term storage.
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