Summer Management of Potatoes
From the time that the plants show through the soil, the best thing that you can do for quick and healthy growth, is to use the hoe between the rows every time that the soil is dry enough.
The reason for this is that the hoe will keep the weeds in check, and at the same time conserve water by forming a fine tilth.
On poor soil it would be a great help to give a dressing of old soot before the plants are earthed up. This should be done when the soil is moist and afterwards it is a good idea to hoe the soot in.
Some growers tend to think that the question of the best time to earth up is of little importance, however, timing of this work is quite important in the life of your potatoes.
If the plants are earthed up too early, you will not be able to hoe between the rows, and if you earth up too late there is a chance that you will bruise the young leaves and this will make them more vulnerable to potato disease, than they need to be.
In the main, potatoes should be earthed up when the plants are five to six inches tall. As a precautionary measure against disease, the soil should be drawn up to the plants so that the ridge, with a nice fine point is secured.
Some growers earth the potatoes in such a manner that the soil if left in a flat state at the top, and this is done to make the most of any summer rain.
Apart from the fact that this method is open to question as to whether this flat ridge does or does not help by catching more rain, it cannot be doubted that in a season when there may be a lot of disease about, a flat ridge is an aid to spreading the trouble.
For the grower to fully understand this, it is necessary to point out that the minute organism responsible for out breaks of disease always attacks the under side of the leaves.
The small puncture made quickly spreads, and spores of the disease are on the edge of the spreading circle. These spores are always falling, and if a flat ridge has been made the spores fall on this ridge damaging the topmost tubers. By using the pointed ridge system the diseased spores will fall harmlessly between the rows.
Having harvested your crop you need a system of storing them over winter. If you only have a small amount, then any dry and cool shed or cellar could be used.
The store must be frost-proof and dark with no light getting in. One way of doing this is to throw sacks or straw over the potato heap.
Make sure that you check the potatoes as you put them in store. If you notice any diseased or bruised potatoes, reject them so as not to infect the whole ones.
A good way to prevent trouble, it would help to throw a few handfuls of lime over the heap.
If you do not have space in your shed, another method of storing your crop would be to make a clamp or pit in your garden, covering the potatoes with a good layer of straw, and placing over this two feet of soil. You then dig out your potatoes as you need them, making sure to cover up the remaining potatoes.
Richard Haigh writes regularly at the organic grower and invites you to read more of his articles about organic gardening there. Article Source: Ezine articles