Master Gardener Volunteers: Potato Gardening Prepping

Since it appears that spring is a bit early I decided to start prepping my garden and put my potatoes in this past weekend. The soil temperature here in Valatie in my garden is 50°. I love growing potatoes. My earliest memories of digging potatoes were with my grandmother in County Mayo Ireland when I was 12. It seemed as though some of them were as big as my head. Potatoes are a staple in the Irish diet! They are fun to grow!
I start out by picking an area of my garden where I can keep the soil fairly acid with a pH of 4.8 to 5.5. I work the soil with broad-fork and hoe to loosen it. This year I have started out with a 30-foot row. That should give my husband and I enough potatoes to get us through the summer and into early fall. I start by buying certified seed potatoes. I like Kennebec‘s because they store well. We also like red Norland. You can buy them at most garden centers.
I start by cutting up the potatoes so that I have 2 to 3 buds per piece. Then I place them on a paper-lined tray so that they can cure overnight or a little longer. I put them in a paper bag and toss with a couple of tablespoons of sulfur powder being careful not to breathe any in. This will help to keep the fungus at bay and also acidify the soil a bit. Then I dig a 6-inch deep trench about 32 feet long. I place a piece of the potato at the bottom of the trench about every 6 to 8 inches. Then I pull the soil over the trench and wait until I see the first leaves pop through. I do side dress with organic fertilizer and extra phosphorus. In a few weeks, I will hill up soil again. When the green shoots are about 8-10 inches tall I hill them again almost covering them up. The vines will grow long and lush.
The plants will produce white flowers which is a sign that it is producing potatoes down below. Later in the season, I will watch for the potato vine to die back. Then I will know that they are ready to dig up and use.
I will plant a second row probably the first week of June to use for winter harvest. I don’t get many pests on my potatoes. About 40 years ago I had an awful infestation of Colorado potato beetles but I learned a secret from a farmer at the nursing home where worked. He told me to always plant a row or a block of green beans next to the row of potatoes and I would never have a problem again. He was right.
Potatoes can also be planted in raised beds and in potato sacks as well. I have included a short video of planting day. I hope I have inspired some of you to try to grow your own!!

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Dealing with the winters in the gardening trade. Apologies about the bad sound at the start…it does improve
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Master Gardener Volunteers: Potato Gardening Prepping

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14 Comments

  • William Walsh

    Hi pal, i am thinking of going self employed, i work for a company now and do my own job in my own time to the point were i have a lot of work for myself but not enough if i was to go self employed now, also how do you work your holiday if your self employed and its just you on your own and no one to do the work when your on holiday?

  • Kindred spirit

    Super helpful info again as i watch for the 2nd year running…Missing your vids mate, trust you're doing well and would love to see more vids !

  • sion evans

    How about day rates…yeah we're presuming your a qualified horticulture graduate..it's knowing why your doing what your doing… knowledge and passion..I couldn't agree better…big gardens totally different thing from maintenance gardener/landscaper types…no disrespect to any green fingered brothers..I treat every garden like my own…put heart n soul into developing and creating lovely gardens…GOT to know your plants well..and want to see them thriving and everything singing…got so much satisfaction because I've done it all my self…higher standards than the customer usually too .

  • sion evans

    No…larger gardens for the proper Gardener…but yeah you got to know your pricing..I'm struggling to do what's needed in time given..just not there enough..but job satisfaction..monthly direct debits or standing order off bigger gardens and cash/ cheque for everything else..bloody hard going though.workings the easy bit..great videos matey..

  • john wignall

    I used to hate the Winter months, but as you get older you appreciate the reduced workload. After 2 months of raking mountains of leaves I need a break, it is a joy! Winter is when you can book in the landscaping work, particularly new planting on the sites you maintain, and suggest getting rid of high maintenance shrubs, to make the future maintenance easier, win, win!

  • steviebear

    Sorry if I’ve missed it in your videos mate, but how do you work it when you miss a day due to snow or illness and clients are paying you standing order – do you then owe them a day? I’ve found this gets complicated if you fall behind – you end up working weekends and evenings which buggers up life outside of work…
    like your videos very much btw

  • J R

    I've been a gardener for 18 years, made up my mind to try and avoid winter, it's a killer. Work abit longer in the summer to pay for it and just don't work it unless it's good earnings like tree work. Triangle of hope that gets me through is 1, stay dry. 2, stay warm. 3, stay fed. Hot food, good water proofs, and shelter! Try and have a fire every so often! Great video

  • Joe Mccole

    Going into my first winter , this video is very helpful. Ive never worked solely on my own before. At times the peace is lovely, but can be lonely. This You tube and Facebook groups help. Almost like work mates! Thanks for posting.

  • Lincs fencing and gardening services

    Someone really good points there fella.
    I find it I our city I'm fighting with the old boys working for beer money and charging £5_£8 an hr

  • Russell Downes Downes

    I have a gardening buisness and I do painting and decorating too for winter and very good at it to and attract the right customer. My customers are very happy with my work and they pass me on to other customers, so it’s building me a good customer base in both aspects. The only trouble I have is when customers want decorating done in summer when I’m really busy with the gardening it don’t mix and they won’t wait.