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Growing Potatoes Under A Layer Of Mulch
Growing Potatoes Under A Layer Of Mulch

Video: Growing Potatoes Under A Layer Of Mulch

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Potato experiments

Growing potatoes
Growing potatoes

The potato harvest pleased

Potatoes are a vegetable that I plant in my garden every year. In recent years, I have been following the principle: "Better less is more." This means that I constantly reduce the area for potatoes, but increase the yield.

The most interesting thing here is to find and apply methods that increase this yield. I find these methods in the experiments of gardeners, which they talk about on the pages of magazines and newspapers, and I myself am looking for such methods in my beds.

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A couple of years ago, I described in detail in a magazine about an unusual way of growing potatoes, when instead of hilling with earth, cut grass is used as mulch. I learned about this method from Finnish farmers and tried it with some changes in my garden. I got excellent harvests with little physical labor.

Now growing tubers under the grass is the basis of all my experiments with potatoes. In past years, I faced a problem: there is nowhere to plant potatoes. The crop rotation has already used all the plots in the garden, but I wanted to plant it in a place where it had not yet been grown. One of these places was found without problems. This was the place from where I dug a twenty-year-old Siberian iris bush that grew to incredible sizes.

I added a very small amount of ash there so as not to poison the earthworms and other soil inhabitants. Around the whole circle, since this area turned out to be round, I spread a dozen small potatoes at a distance of 20 cm from each other, slightly pressing them into the ground. From above, I covered it with mowed grass from a lawn mower in a layer of 10 cm. In the center of the resulting flower bed, I sowed beans.

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Throughout the summer, I regularly added grass to the flower bed as soon as the previous layer of grass dried up. I have done in this small area the same thing that I have done in recent years in all the beds with potatoes. At the end of summer, she harvested a very good harvest in this "flower bed", and, what is most useful, the tubers were clean, without the slightest signs of scab. In general, scab is an indispensable inhabitant in my garden, constantly striking all potato plantings, and here I dug up the cleanest tubers. Thus, the long-standing observation of gardeners that potatoes love fresh soil was confirmed.

Growing potatoes
Growing potatoes

Potatoes in place of irises

I often practice planting several potatoes in small groups in different parts of the garden, where some flowers or shrubs used to grow, which I removed as unnecessary. Nice flower beds with potato plants turn out. And here, too, I grow crops under the grass. The main thing here is that there is no need to dig the earth on purpose, and then to huddle and weed the plantings. Potatoes on such patches of soil always turn out clean. In addition, after digging the potatoes, the soil on these scraps turns out to be loose, moderately fertile. Here then cabbage, carrots, beets, onions work well.

Another place where I wanted to plant potatoes was densely occupied by large-fruited garden strawberries, in the popular way - strawberries. The plantings were outdated, they should have been removed, but it was too time consuming to dig out these rhizomes, overgrown with dust and wheatgrass. It is known that science does not recommend alternating garden strawberries and potatoes on the same bed: these crops have common diseases. Of these, the most dangerous is verticillary wilting, when by the end of summer, and sometimes even earlier, plants stop growing, their growth points turn brown, the leaves dry out. But my strawberries turned out to be clean, without any diseases, and I decided to plant potatoes after strawberries without digging the soil. For this, it was necessary to deprive everything that grew on this ridge of the conditions for life.

To begin with, I decided to deprive them of the light. Having collected the last harvest of berries from the garden in July, she did not dig up the soil, but simply covered the entire ridge with a layer of 20 cm of grass, let it wither, and then covered it with two layers of black film, crushed them with boards around the edges so that not a single quantum of light would penetrate inside … A month later, I opened the film and saw white skinny shoots of weeds that made their way through the grass that had begun to rot. For reliability, I additionally laid a layer of dried grass from a lawn mower on the ridge and again covered it with a black film. In this form, the ridge went away before winter.

In the spring I removed the black film, covered the ridge with a transparent film - for a higher rate of heating of the earth. Unkillable weeds began to break through last year's half-over-matured grass. At first she cut them down with a flat cutter Fokina, but soon the most persistent began to grow again. I had to dig them up with a pitchfork. The ground under the grass coat was very loose. The roots of the strawberry have practically rotted away. I left their remains in the soil to rot. When the soil temperature rose to 10 ° C and higher, I started planting potatoes. I tucked my hand with a tuber under a layer of last year's grass, left it there on the ground. Planted in a checkerboard pattern with a distance of 45 cm between the potatoes. The plantings were additionally covered with a black film. She took it off when the first tops of the shoots appeared on the surface.

Growing potatoes
Growing potatoes

Tubers for planting

For planting I chose potatoes with a large number of eyes. All of them underwent standard vernalization within a month. All varieties are mixed up and mixed. I also took advantage of the experience of Omsk gardener Oleg Telepov, planting a couple of potatoes as an experiment with their eyes down. His crop with such a planting was obtained a little later, but more than with a normal planting. This result was also confirmed for me.

If, during a normal planting, the sprouts from the eyes immediately go up, forming a dense bouquet, and subsequently the stems shade each other, then when planting with the eyes down, the sprouts, getting out to the surface, creep away from the potato in different directions. Therefore, the stems come out to the surface less densely. More stolons, larger potatoes, higher yield. The rest of the potatoes were planted in the usual way.

As the tops of the sprouts appeared on the surface, I sprinkled the cut grass on them. At the same time, the shoots were necessarily straightened in different directions from the center, tilting them to the ground, and the bulk of the grass was poured into the middle of the bush. As a result, the bushes grew sparse, the sun penetrated them. The lower remains of last year's grass quickly rotted away. On top, I regularly added new mulch so that later the potatoes would not turn green in the sun. Therefore, there was always enough moisture in the soil. Sometimes she watered the plantings with water with ash loose in it.

As a result, the potatoes received organic fertilizers from rotten grass and mineral salts from ash. It is known that organics affect the size of tubers, but reduce their starchiness. However, organic matter from grass has little effect on this process, because it appears gradually as the grass decays and in small doses.

Ash increases the content of minerals in tubers. So the tubers are tastier. When growing potatoes under grass, it is very important to observe one rule: never put a thick layer of grass on the put tubers at once. It should be no more than 10 cm. The next layer should be added when the previous one dries up or at least withers. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the sprouts to make their way to the light.

The total layer of already dry grass should not be more than 20 cm. But not less, so that there is no light access to the potatoes. The lower layers of hay quickly begin to decompose. Earthworms and other soil inhabitants are actively working there, and by the time the potatoes ripen, the layer is already significantly thinned.

Growing potatoes
Growing potatoes

Harvesting potatoes

In early autumn, when the potato tops had withered, I started harvesting. In early varieties, the tops turned yellow earlier. From these bushes, I began to dig up tubers. The potatoes grew large, even, there were practically no trifles. A particularly large crop was obtained in bushes where the tubers were planted with eyes downward.

The fact that garden strawberries used to grow on this site did not affect the harvest. True, many tubers were affected by scab, but this is not from strawberries. On this site, and 20 years ago, when I grew potatoes, he was greatly affected by scab. This means that she lives in this land constantly and is not going to go anywhere. Especially there was a lot of scab on the early varieties, which I dug too late, at the same time as the later varieties. Still, the potatoes must be dug out in time, not overexposed in the ground.

After digging out the harvest, I lightly patched the remnants of non-rotted grass into the soil with a flat cutter. A very small number of skinny rhizomes of weeds were easily pulled out and thrown away. The soil after the potatoes turned out to be lush, light. I sowed green manure there. When using this method, I managed to use an overgrown plot of land and get an excellent potato crop without digging the site, without loosening the soil, without hilling plantings, without watering and almost without fertilizing, without weeding, because weeds practically did not grow there.

The biggest advantage of this planting method is the minimum cost of physical labor throughout the summer. In addition, I think that if you are convinced that your garden strawberries do not suffer from common diseases with potatoes, then you can safely plant tubers along old plantings of strawberries without removing the rhizomes of the bushes from the garden. Then it will become easier to observe crop rotation on your small acres, and rotted strawberry plants will become a source of additional soil fertilization.

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