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Potato Plot 2020 No-Dig

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  • Potato Plot 2020 No-Dig

    I'm not sure how well this is going to go, it's a bit slap-happy and I know not the best example of no dig, I'm just trying to work with what I have available so this is what I'm doing this year. Any tips and ideas you have are most welcome.

    I've always dug over before planting potatoes and usually hill up at the same time. But this year the potato plot is going on what was grass, it's been covered with mypex (or equivalent) for a couple of months. Although some remaining pale grass and weeds were still there, I dug out any docks and left the rest. I've covered it with cardboard and then grass clippings, seed pots have gone into some compost/multipurpose compost. I'll top up with whatever I have available as they grow, this might be a bit heavy with grass clippings which I rather fear is going to be a slug magnet! I have some composting horse poo which may or may not be used here.

    I didn't take a before picture but this is from yesterday after I planted. I have one more row to do but that will have to wait for another day.

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  • #2
    It looks great, jayb, and pure Charles Dowding, so should work fine I'd think.

    How deep is your layer of grass clippings? I'm assuming the potatoes won't penetrate the cardboard so perhaps productivity depends on how much you're able to build up the mounds as you go?

    I'll be really interested in how it works out. I've stripped an area of turf (with help!), rotavated, dug trenches for potatoes and earthed up. Clearly quite a lot of labour and the goodness in the turf isn't available - although it'll break down elsewhere. Very not Charles Dowding!

    Good luck with it.

    Comment


    • triffid
      triffid commented
      Editing a comment
      If your seed potatoes were small merely because they were harvested young, I don't think it would matter too much. I've had wayward minitubers tossed in the worm bin that have shrugged off their rejection and grown massive stolons.
      However, if the potatoes are unusually small even when mature it could be an indicator of disease, particularly viruses. But that doesn't necessarily mean you won't get a decent crop from them. Do you have The Resilient Gardener? Deppe has a whole chapter on keeping your own seed potatoes and identifying diseases.

    • jayb
      jayb commented
      Editing a comment
      Potatoes just want to grow. If I had the choice of sizes I would likely pick the egg size out of habit, ping pong would be fine too. As Triffid mentions mini tubers are also vigorous growers and I've harvested good crops from growing them too. If you feel some are really a bit too small pop two in together, I find they seem to grow as if a bigger tuber. Clean/fresh ground is great for potatoes, no build up of nasties although wireworm can be a problem, hopefully removing the turf will have taken any present away, although they may not be an issue for your plot.

    • Jang
      Jang commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks to both of you for your reassurance. I don't think disease was a factor. I had a very good crop last year but ate all the good sized ones and saved the very smallest. Much too greedy! This year I'll prioritise seed potatoes for 2021 and save slightly larger ones.
      I'll be interested to see how these do. I'll be positive and regard it as an experiment.

  • #3
    That looks great. Similar to me using hops. Slugs you can't really do anything about either use slug pellets or nemaslug then it becomes expensive. You'll always have some damage.

    Comment


    • triffid
      triffid commented
      Editing a comment
      I had a whole bed of turnips 100% cleared out by slugs last September. And 100% of a small patch of flint corn was voled away. And all of the broad beans I left to dry on the plant. It was quite impressive. I've found things nibbled on before but never completely harvested by the local wildlife. I've been lucky with potatoes.

    • Jang
      Jang commented
      Editing a comment
      I can’t resist joining this tale of woe. I had sweetcorn cleared out by a freak visit from a deer or two, I’m assuming. The next year the cobs were stripped by rats. I’ve also had rats climbing pea plants and stripping the pods. A whole patch of beetroot has been nibbled and ruined by mice or voles, pea pods stripped by the same and, like clumsy, also chickpeas.
      Rabbits have nested and produced babies under my brassicas and last year I lost a whole planting of young brassicas to flea beetle. At the moment I’m cautiously optimistic as I’ve fenced against rabbits, the rat population seems much reduced and I‘ve invested in some finer mesh to protect against flea beetle. Heigh ho!

    • jayb
      jayb commented
      Editing a comment
      I hadn't even started to think about furry vermin. But I may have a secret weapon for them this year!
      Glad to know cut grass doesn't increase problems with slugs.
      Wow, we are all so lucky to have such an abundance of wildlife!!!!!!

  • #4
    I like the idea, very time efficient. From the photo I initially thought you had just dug narrow strips between turf for the spuds, which is something I may do to save time, and then spade over the remaining sod onto the rows at earthing-up time. If you run out of cardboard for the last part you can also use newspaper.

    Comment


    • jayb
      jayb commented
      Editing a comment
      Oooh, do keep us updated if you follow the narrow dug strips to grow potatoes, then we will have three methods running this year. Good thinking with the newspaper, though they are in short supply here. I wonder if last season's bracken could be utilised?

  • #5
    I think that the main benefit with potatoes is that digging them out is the real 'working the soil' bit. And it matters less how they are planted initially. A lot can be achieved by various methods of earthing up to get a better harvest. I think your plot should work well Jayb.

    Do you have to put bracken through a shredder or can it be used as it is. Another very beneficial mulch if available, is comfrey leaves which should soon be available for the first cut.

    Comment


    • clumsy
      clumsy commented
      Editing a comment
      Mulching is great keeps weeds down. Comfrey if you have enough great to add nutrients back to the soil.

    • jayb
      jayb commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm not sure if a shredder would cope with bracken it might need to be run over a few times with a mower. I know they harvest bracken as bedding for livestock in places around here but that is normally done in late summer.

      I've been having a few issues with comfrey springing up in places it shouldn't be I wonder if mice or rats move the fleshy roots about? Yes, comfrey plants are sprouting well.

  • #6
    I've been adding mulch to the 4 rows planted earlier this month, Horse poo on top of the compost and grass clippings between the rows, I heaped the grass over the potato rows once I watered it all. The compost was tending to dry out in this gorgeous warm spell we have been having. First earlies Abbott were starting to show through before being covered up, good to know things are moving underneath it all.

    I also added another two rows yesterday, a slightly different method. I planted the potatoes into two rows of horse poo on cardboard, watered and then covered with grass cuttings. so no grass underneath as with the first rows as I think it was of little benefit. I'm hoping the covering of the mounds with grass will better conserve moisture.

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    I've got a list of what I've sown but the labels I used when I planted are now pretty much buried so being a potato nerd I think I'm going to find it weird not being able to see easily what is planted where.

    Comment


    • jayb
      jayb commented
      Editing a comment
      I think I signed up to airtable but I've not really got into it. Interesting you use it for keeping a list of everything, I started using it more to begin logging bean varieties and pictures. Did you follow a format or start your own?

    • Jang
      Jang commented
      Editing a comment
      I started a new topic by way of an answer as I ended up with too many words to reply as a comment.

    • jayb
      jayb commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, I'll check it out.

  • #7
    This is kind of what I do, I'm a bit of a scribbler so this is how my planting list looks.

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    Which then translates into

    Abbot 9 or 10
    Charlotte 6
    Apache 3
    Purple Rain 4
    ---------------
    Mayan Twilight (All 5’s)
    Lily Rose
    Mayan Gold
    Celebration
    ------------
    Heidi
    Kalber Rotstange
    Pink Gypsy
    PFA
    -----------
    Peach Bloom
    Argos
    Bamberger Hornchen
    Eichenhofer Gelbe

    ----


    24/4

    Papa Negra
    Peluca
    Bonita ojo de Perdiz
    Badenser Blauhornchen
    ---
    Black Lippy 2
    Bikini 3
    Red Emmalie 1
    Hot Dog 2
    Splash Paddle (HDxRed Em) 2
    Snookie 3
    Red Snookie 1
    Blue Snookie 1
    Palest Pink Eye 4
    Snookie 1
    Last edited by jayb; 26-04-2020, 07:50.

    Comment


    • #8
      During the cold snap, I tried to keep the potato rows well topped up. But one disadvantage using this method I found was the grass clippings blew around in the wind and it was not possible to keep the growing tips safe from frost. It also seemed quite random in which plants were affected, not really following variety or location in rows.

      The first picture shows the first four rows topped up again with grass clippings and rape chaff (which hopefully added a bit of weight to help prevent it from moving about), the last two rows haven't broken through yet so will get more topping next mow day.

      The second photo, an example of frost-damaged leaves we experienced on the plot (I think variety is Abbot).


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      Comment


      • #9
        Your mulch is beautifully full in spite of wind problems. I've been using grass mulch too in the last few days but hadn't got much in place for Monday night when we had a killer frost which wasn't forecast for here. So mine sustained quite a lot of damage.

        I am finding though that they're already putting on more growth. I'm sure they'll survive but will be set back somewhat. Hope fully yours will bounce back very quickly.

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        Last edited by Jang; 18-05-2020, 21:57.

        Comment


        • jayb
          jayb commented
          Editing a comment
          Oh my, not the prettiest sight, glad they are already putting on growth. Same here already improved and none were as hard hit as the one in your picture. Hope they get better soon

        • clumsy
          clumsy commented
          Editing a comment
          Had this before hot spring the potato's growing quickly then you get hit with frost. But they do recover which is great.

      • #10
        They will come back. But frosted potatoes are a sorry sight. Normally late frosts are not that severe, but this one was destructive for many. Full speed ahead for recovering. That bed with the rape chaff looks good. Hope not too many strays germinate or it would become an undersowing experiment.
        Last edited by Galina; 19-05-2020, 05:12.

        Comment


        • jayb
          jayb commented
          Editing a comment
          Lol yes, it could become a nightmare, but it looked very clear of seed, even the bottom of the bag.
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