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HomeOpinionGardening with Wally Richards: Potatoes

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Wally Richards
Wally Richardshttp://www.gardenews.co.nz
Wally Richards has been a gardening columnist for over 30 years. Check his websites - for gardening news and tips visit www.gardenews.co.nz. For mail order products visit www.0800466464.co.nz. Wally also has a gardening problem help line on 0800 466 464.

Gardening with Wally Richards: Potatoes

Growing potatoes news

Once upon a time when the world was a much better place and people could afford to buy a quarter acre of land and build a house for their family to grow up in and enjoy the benefits of those days 50 to 100 years ago.

(You only have to think back to see how bad things have become in more recent years).

Well the first thing that a young married man would do with the land would be to plant a crop of potatoes.

This served two purposes: it would help break up the earth for future gardens and lawns plus a bounty crop of potatoes to store and use.

Nowadays because of the dreaded potato psyllid you need to plan the plantings of potatoes and later on tomatoes or use controls to combat the psyllid.

If you had psyllids last season and did not use the Cell Strengthening products you will have worse problems this season.

With potatoes there is a way to get an early crop in and out before the plants are attacked.

Psyllids are temperature controlled and when too hot like over 35 degrees or too cool like under 15 degrees they are slow to reproduce.

When the temperatures are ideal for them they produce in the hundreds and thousands.

When they feed on the foliage they inject a toxin into the potato plants which will prevent the baby tubers from growing bigger than a marble, or if the tubers have reached a reasonable size then you find in the harvested potatoes dark rings and they taste bad.

Early planting is a way around the problem and the way to do this is:

  • Dig a trench about one and a half spade depth.
  • Place your sprouted potato on top of the following at the base of the trench, about a table spoon of gypsum, quarter a teaspoon of BioPhos, a few sheep manure pellets and a sprinkling of Wally Neem Tree Powder.
  • Sprouts should face skywards. Use a little soil to cover the sprouts.

The soil protects against any frosts and possible early emergence of psyllids.

Now this is most important: you need to check frequently the crop and as soon as the new sprouts pop through the cover add a little more soil to re-cover.

You keep doing this till until your trench is filled level with the soil.

Then you start mounding up to keep the sprouts covered.Not only will this be adequate protection from late frosts but will increase the size of your crop.

The new potatoes will form all the way up the haulm of the potatoes you planted as long as you covered the sprouts as they appear.

If you dont then once the spouts get up a few inches out of the ground you will not obtain any extra potatoes to harvest.

Growing quick maturing potatoes now should have them mature and ready to harvest before the temperatures rise and the psyllids come out to play.

When you stop mounding sprinkle Wallys Neem Tree Powder as a side dressing each side of the row.

When the crop is mature, then either lift so the tubers are safe or, if you leave them in the ground, remove the top foliage and cover the stubble with soil so there is nothing for the psyllids to attack.

Ideally the above could have been done in the middle of winter like in May/June.

The earlier the better.

Any late crop of potatoes planted say about Labour Weekend will likely be doomed to failure once the tops are exposed and before maturity.

To overcome this possibility then you need to use Wallys Cell Strengthening Kit to make the cells of the plants so tough that the nymphs can not piece to feed.

This means about the time of planting the seed potatoes and covering, add a soil drench of Wallys Silicon and Boron soil drench. A second drench can be applied about the time you stop mounding.

Then a weekly spray of the foliage with Wallys Silicon Cell Strengthening Spray using a Wallys Super Spreader added drives the spray into the plants.

Use those products and you should be able to have later crops with no psyllid damage. The same products should be used for your tomatoes, capsicums, chili, garlic and tamarillos.

I also like to add Magic Botanic Liquid to the cell strengthening spray for greater results.

Products mentioned are from Wallys Range of products and can be found in some garden shops or by Mail Order on www.0800466464.co.nz

Problems ring me at: Phone 0800 466464
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz
Mail Order products at www.0800466464.co.nz

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