Thursday, June 18, 2015

Apple of the Earth

Potato (Solanum tuberosum) 'Yukon Gold' 

Once again the earth has given forth its fruits through the humble night shade the French appropriately call -- Pomme de terre

Last winter I planted some sprouted potatoes from my pantry and under minimal input and less than six hours of sunlight (due to its location), here they are, food once more and even more.  Since I planted them from leftover tubers, I didn't do as much management as I would have. However, there are some things that can be done to optimize potato harvests.  For the sake of those who are interested in trying potatoes in the future, here is a list of activities worth considering:

1.  Hill-up the soil during early growth of the stems.  Stolons (the part that becomes tuber) grow on buried parts of the stem.  Covering more of the basal stem allows the formation of more tubers.  Since my potatoes were grown in large pots, I could have simulated hilling-up by adding more soil at the base of the plants;

2.  Water when necessary.  Use rainfall instead of the temperature as basis for watering.  The low temperatures of winter is often deceiving.  I tend to assume the soil is moist when the air temperature is cold.  My mistake.  After tuber initiation, consistent water supply (along with other factors such as sunlight and fertilizer) is very important for a good bulking rate (enlargement) of the tubers;

3.   Apply a second dose of fertilizer.  Fertilizer was basally applied but I skipped the necessary side-dressing which would have enhanced and prolonged foliage growth that results in large potatoes.  

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