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Video: Growing Potatoes Under The Grass
Potato planting methods
Every spring I go from the train to my site past vegetable gardens where people are merrily planting potatoes. It is always very interesting to watch. How many people, so many ways of planting potatoes, everyone has their own favorite.
Some dig a hole under each tuber, throw in a handful - another of something nutritious, then throw potatoes, cover it with earth on top. Others carefully make a shallow hole with a shovel, carefully put the potato there, trying to put it with its nose up, then throw a handful or two of ash, bury it.
I saw how some gardeners diligently, along a taut twine, lay out the tubers on the surface of the ground and sprinkle them with earth from the rows a little - some in one row, who make rows in pairs, and leave a greater distance between these pairs, up to a meter, taking care of the subsequent hilling. Such gardeners had the land dug up and fertilized in advance.
The hurried gardeners who are in a hurry to get rid of such an unpleasant business as planting potatoes on a weekend day stand out noticeably. They forcefully press the shovel with their foot, thrusting it into the ground as deep as possible, raise the ground, and throw potatoes into the resulting cold depth under a thick layer of earth. The case is especially efficient when two people are engaged in such a landing. One of them works with a shovel in the Stakhanov way, the second quickly takes a tuber and accurately throws it into the gap under the shovel, then this gap immediately slams shut.
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Many gardeners use different scientific methods. For example, Dutch. The potatoes are planted to a depth of 2 cm, and immediately they are spudded until the sprouts have crawled out and are not used to the light. In the future, you need to constantly pile up the landing. Then the sprouts will constantly sprout in the dark, i.e. they do not need to rebuild, and the harvest is obtained earlier. For us, this method is very suitable, because the potatoes fall into the warmest layer of the earth.
Or use the American way. This is when the tubers are planted according to the scheme 22 x 22 cm to a depth of 22 cm (I don’t know why these numbers were chosen, it turns out something similar to the way our men plant potatoes on a weekend). With this method, you do not need to spud the potatoes. Apparently, this method is suitable for late planting, when the ground has warmed up to a great depth, as well as for light, rapidly drying soils. At depth, potatoes are constantly in the moist layer of the earth. The experimenters claim a good harvest.
The most advanced gardeners use Ushakov's method or plant "Sherman-style" - our magazine wrote about this method many times.
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I was interested in the method of planting potatoes with hay, because this method usually produces good yields. Here, too, gardeners experiment in different ways. Some gardeners make a groove, put a layer of hay or grass on the bottom, potatoes on the hay, and cover it all with earth on top. Others do it a little differently: they put tubers at the bottom of the hole or groove, throw a bunch of hay or grass on each of them, and cover them with earth.
I heard about this method: a layer of mown grass is put on the ground, tubers are put on it, they are covered with grass on top, and all this is covered with earth. With this method, the potatoes, without touching the ground, should not be sick with scab. Some gardeners do not even cover with earth from above.
The season before last, I involuntarily had to use the grass method, because I arrived at the site late, when the grass in the garden was already waist-deep. They had to plant in a high-speed way, using grains from each method.
I have allocated three beds for planting. She mowed the grass that had grown over the spring from them, put it in the aisles. She did not dig up the soil in the beds, so as not to disrupt the habitat of soil bacteria and not spoil the passages of the main inhabitants of the soil - earthworms. She only loosened the top layer of the soil with a Fokin flat cutter to cut the roots of the weeds. In the summer, these very roots remaining in the soil will feed bacteria and worms and other soil inhabitants, fertilizing my soil.
Now many gardeners are beginning to abandon deep digging of the soil, and even with the circulation of the layer. They believe that such digging leads to a gradual decrease in soil fertility. Now a whole theory has been developed on this topic. However, this should be a separate conversation, and now - about my experiments with planting potatoes.
The width of the beds was 1.2 m.On each of them, the tubers were planted in two rows, retreating from the edges of the ridges by 30 cm.The potatoes were previously vernalized for a month on a light warm windowsill in five-liter plastic bottles from under water, from which they were cut the upper part so that you can stick your hand with the tuber into the bottle. After that, the potatoes were soaked for two weeks in a cool room, so that they had time to get used to the cold and so that the transition from a warm window sill to a rather cold ground was not too abrupt with shocking consequences for the potato.
I started planting in the ground in mid-June, when all the neighbors had potatoes growing for a long time. I had to endure a feeling of chagrin: the neighbors are growing, but I have not yet planted. Over time, I learned to overcome such feelings: chickens are counted in the fall, and my "chickens" were clearly better.
On the first bed, the tubers were planted in the ground to such a depth that the sprouts on the crown were at the very surface. When they started to grow, the planting was gradually covered with layers of cut grass - this is from the Dutch method, the shoots should grow all the time in the dark. She was mowing the grass on the lawn near the forest. When the layer of grass has accumulated about 20 cm, I stopped adding it. Now the sprouts had the right to crawl out and grow further as they should, i.e. in the light. The land in the garden was already warmed by the June sun, and the seedlings were developing rapidly.
On the second bed, I laid the potatoes on the surface of the ground, covered them with a layer of freshly cut grass about 10 cm thick on top. Then, when the grass dried up, I gradually added new small portions of cut grass. Potato stalks made their way through this grass, but I immediately poured a new layer, while spreading the stalks to the sides from the center, so that later they would be more spacious.
On the third bed, on the surface of the ground that was not dug up and not even worked with a flat cutter, first a layer of 10 cm of green grass was laid, then potatoes were laid on it, and the top was filled with grass with a layer of 20 cm. It was interesting to observe how the sprouts made their way through the layers of grass. It was difficult to do this, they lifted entire layers of grass with their strength, and only then, when the grass dried up, they managed to crawl between the grass to the light. The most difficult thing was to break through a layer of 20 cm in the third bed - there the sprouts appeared on the surface 7-10 days later than on other beds.
The last two summers were rainy, I did not water the plantings, and generally did not come close to them, only once I did a liquid fertilizing with ash. I believed that food should be sufficient from grass.
By August, the grass had dried up and turned into hay. The surface of the beds became bumpy: under each bump of hay lay a large tuber. The potato seemed to be trying to get out of the hay to the surface, it grew on stolons in a standing position, upright. Most often, the tubers managed to get out into the light, but at the same time they began to turn green.
The harvest was excellent, the potatoes were large and healthy, especially in the first two beds. Unfortunately, a significant part of the crop, about 30%, turned out to be inedible and green. Still, it was necessary to be more careful with the plantings, add grass so that the potatoes did not crawl to the surface. Or sprinkle the plantings with earth to protect them from light.
By the way, it was not possible to get rid of the scab, however, there was no black scab - Rhizoctonia disease. But in the fall, when I was raking to the sides the dried up half-rotten grass to dig out potatoes, I saw a large number of fat earthworms, which in a hurry were hiding from the light in their earthen burrows. Having removed the grass between the rows, I found that a decent layer of black humus had formed on the soil layer on the bed.
The next year, I also did not manage to get to the site on time, I arrived again only at the beginning of June. Inevitably, I had to continue the potato experiments, because I had neither the strength nor the time to dig the ground. Now I knew what to do to avoid last year's mistakes.
On the same three ridges, I cut off the weeds with a Fokina flat-cutter, planted on each one in two rows the varied potatoes. The tubers were planted in small holes so that the growth points were at the very surface. When the sprouts grew to about 1-3 cm, I sprinkled them with a narrow strip (30 cm) of cut grass with a layer of 3-4 cm, let it dry for a day. The next day, I sprinkled Kemir's fertilizer on the grass, and then sprinkled it, sprinkling the earth from the rows on the grass. In the future, as the sprouts climbed to the surface, I covered them with a small layer of freshly cut grass from the lawn.
And so - until the stems closed and formed a solid green carpet. Now I have already strictly observed that until the end of the season, not a single tuber "peeks" into the light in the crevices, adding grass or compost to the right place. Sometimes she sprinkled ash on the grass, which was immediately washed off by the daily rains.
All summer I was glad that there was no need to huddle and weed, because no weeds had grown. In August, a mild late blight appeared. I had to cut off all the stems. At the end of summer, when I raked the half-rotted grass in the aisles, I saw, like last year, the remnants of a feast of earthworms and soil bacteria in the form of a decent layer of humus, as well as an excellent harvest of potatoes. A little scab still remains on it. There were no green tubers.
The potato varieties that took part in my experiment - Fairy Tale, Wizard, Lark. On a small control bed, where the same potatoes were planted, but according to the standard method with hilling, the harvest was poor, like all neighbors in the last "non-potato" year.
Now I will grow potatoes only under the grass. True, this method is only suitable for small planting areas, where it is possible to get the right amount of grass for shelter. In addition, my land is light, sandy loam. In dry summers, the grass delays the drying out of the soil, and in wet summers water easily passes through it, giving my potatoes additional nutrition.
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