At Renee's Garden, I offer only the varieties that are very special for home gardeners, based on great flavor, easy culture and exceptional garden performance.
This seed line is my personal selection of new, exciting and unusual seed choices of time-tested heirlooms, the best international hybrids and fine open-pollinated varieties. I harvest and use the vegetables and herbs in my kitchen to choose the most delicious, and cut the flowers for bouquets to select the finest colors, forms and fragrances. Our varieties are tested and guaranteed for every major US climate zone.
POTATO MINI TUBER GROWING GUIDE
If You Must Delay Planting
Do: keep the mesh bags of mini tubers in a cool (45-55 F) dark place. They will keep up to several months if necessary. The potato eyes on the tubers may begin to form chubby little sprouts, but this just means they are ready and waiting to grow.
Don't: put them in the refrigerator because its low humidity will dehydrate them, OR in a warm dark place because the potatoes will make long pale shoots that will weaken the plants.
1. In Spring, when soil is workable and no longer soggy (about 2 to 3 weeks before last estimated frost date) prepare a deeply worked bed in a sunny spot that is as free of weeds and soil clumps as possible. Potatoes prefer soil with a pH of no more than 6.0. Do not enrich the soil with fresh manure, as this can cause potato scab; finished or commercial compost or well-aged manure is fine to use. Work a fertilizer high in potassium and phosphorus into the ground well ahead of planting, or top dress afterwards. Green cover crops plowed under before the planting season begins are an ideal way to increase the fertility of potato beds.
2. Dig a shallow trench 3 to 4 inches deep (3 inches wide at the bottom.) The edge of a hoe is good for this job.Rows should be 24 to 36 inches apart.
3. Plant whole mini tubers about 12 inches apart in the row. Using a rake, cover the tubers immediately after planting with two inches of soil. Do not plant too deep or cover too thickly.
4. When the potato plants are 8 inches tall, fill in the trench from both sides by gently pulling the soil up against the plants with a rake or hoe, leaving about 4 inches of each leafy plant exposed. (Keep tools well away from the plants so as not to damage the roots.) Potatoes will form along the buried potato plant roots.
5. As plants grow, continue to hill up soil or mulch heavily 2 or 3 more times so that more potatoes will form under the soil. Using this hilling process will increase yields, as you are providing more room underground for potatoes to form along potato roots. Mulching your fully hilled up, growing plants is a good strategy to help retain moisture and protect the growing plants from hot summer sun.
6. Watch for insects; identify your pests and use appropriate controls if insects are a problem.
7. Potatoes require at least 1 inch of rainfall per week while actively growing. Water your plants if there is no rainfall, wetting the soil thoroughly. Once plants are up and growing, foliar feeding (spraying the leaves) with fish emulsion or seaweed fertilizer is very beneficial.
Harvesting "New" Potatoes
Early varieties such as Caribe or Yukon Gold can be harvested and enjoyed as new potatoes early in the season. After about 60-65 days, plants will flower and little tubers will begin to form on developing underground stems called stolons (don't worry--some varieties either bloom very late or not at all--check for new potatoes after 65-75 days on plants that don't boom). Gently probe around the base of the plant for developing tubers on the ends of the stolons (some stolons are as long as 18 inches). Dig up only enough new baby-sized potatoes for one or two days use as they are fragile and are best if eaten right after harvest for best quality and flavor. While it's a treat to harvest some of your crop as baby new potatoes, plan to leave the rest of the crop to mature in size for later harvest and storage.
Harvesting Your Main Potato Crop
For your mature potato crop, allow growth until vines naturally wither and "die back" or until potatoes have reached desired size. Frost will encourage maturing. If tubers are fully formed and continue to have vigorous top growth, simply break the tops at ground level to terminate development. Allow tubers to remain in the soil at least two weeks after tops have either "died back" or have been terminated. This provides time for skins to "set" which increases storage quality.
Dig potatoes carefully with a fork so as not to bruise or damage skins. Dig deeply and at a distance of up to 18 inches from the plant to locate all tubers. Any injured tubers should be cooked and enjoyed right away. Store potatoes in burlap bags at low temperatures (optimum 35-40‹ F). Cooler temperatures slow down sprout development and increase storage life. Do not keep storage potatoes in the refrigerator, as the atmosphere is too dry for good storage. Potatoes will turn green and taste bitter if stored in the presence of light. Keep them covered with soil while in the garden by hilling or mulching and store after harvest in total darkness. Burlap or mesh onion bags provide good air circulation. Burlap bags alone will not keep light out.
Next Year's Crop
Scab is a common disease in potato production. This disease reduces visual appearance and storage quality. Planting our "clean" and virus-free mini tubers in well-drained, loose soil can minimize the risk of developing scab. Moist soil is required during the development of tubers, but do not keep soil too soggy during the growing season. Growing potatoes in soil with high pH readings (above 6.5) can increase scab problems.
Thoroughly harvest your potato crop; don't let any potatoes remain in the soil and weed out any volunteers as they emerge to eliminate potential sources of scab and virus for future potato production. We repeat for emphasis: resist the natural urge to leave volunteer sprouting potatoes in the ground. Rotate the location of your potato beds each season if possible so you are not growing this crop in the same spot.
Visit Renee's Garden website at www.reneesgarden.com for more great growing information, to place an order, or to simply look around.
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