7 ways to grow potatoes that will increase your harvest
The ingenuity of our amateur growers knows no bounds. They come up with more and more options for potato beds. As a rule, the most interesting ideas are born in the process of solving a particular problem. For example, in the spring, someone got a plot on the virgin lands, and you want to try your potatoes this season. Or there is not enough place in the country, but I want to fit everything all at once. And of course, the main reason for the innovations is our constant desire to simplify and facilitate the work on the personal plot. It is interesting to understand what are the advantages and disadvantages of alternative methods of growing potatoes. Do they really simplify the life of the farmer?
1. Landing in the trench
Potatoes in trenches have been grown for a long time, this method gives good results in small areas. Experts say that the potato harvest in trenches can be twice as much as using traditional technology. However, this method is quite time-consuming, and, apparently, therefore, it is still not widely used among vegetable growers.
Preparation for landing in this way begins in the fall. They dig a trench about 50 cm deep along the entire length of the bed. They fill it with organic matter - a mixture of peat, humus, sawdust, fallen leaves, straw, etc. In this form, the bed is left until spring, and with the onset of the first warm days they are covered with a black plastic film for better warming. .
For a large amount of planting material, not one, but several trenches will be required. They are made by retreating to a distance of up to 70 cm. Unused soil is left between rows, it may still be needed during the season.
Germinated potato tubers can be planted in a trench when the temperature of the substrate reaches + 6 ... + 8 ° C. Sprinkle potatoes on top with a layer of earth or compost and cover with a film. When the shoots appear, holes are cut in the film shelter so that the stems can freely grow up. This technique allows you to save moisture around the bushes and simultaneously get rid of weeds. You can not use the film, but simply sprinkle the grown stems with the earth remaining on the sides of the trench.
Planting potatoes in trenches is completely unsuitable for sites with high groundwater levels. It is highly likely that in conditions of high humidity, potatoes can choke and rot. In this case, you need not dig into the ground, but rather, raise the beds higher.
2. Potatoes in boxes
Even on the most useless soils, you can grow an excellent potato crop by planting it in high beds. For this purpose, boxes are built up to a height of 30 cm and a width of about 1 m. The length of the boxes depends on the desired size of the beds. The bottom is filled with small branches, tops and other plant residues, and fertile soil is added from above. Potatoes are planted staggered at a distance of 30 cm and sprinkled with a layer of soil 5-7 cm thick.
As the bushes grow, you need to fill the ground in the box. This technique allows you to grow potatoes without unnecessary weeding and hilling. All plants in the box are well lit by the sun, it is very convenient to take care of them. You can add to the advantages of the method also the ease of watering.
The biggest disadvantage is that it will take a lot of time and effort to put together a box. You also need to find the right materials. But then in the future such a bed can serve more than one year.
Both of the above methods work on the principle of "warm beds" in which, as you know, organic filler is used. During the season, organics gradually decay, generating heat and stimulating the growth of potato bushes. Thanks to this heating, planting potatoes in the beds can begin a couple of weeks earlier than usual. Consequently, the first tubers will appear faster and yield will be higher.
3. Potatoes under the straw
This method will soon turn one hundred years old, it was first tried by the Russian vegetable scientist M.V. Rytov. Recently, such plantings have again gained popularity, because you can plant potatoes under straw even on the virgin soil, without preliminary soil treatment.
Sprouted potatoes are laid out in small holes, furrows, or simply on the ground and covered with a layer of moist chopped straw with a thickness of 15-20 cm. As the shoots grow, straw is added, increasing the height of the shelter up to 50 cm.
Through a thick layer of mulch, weeds hardly germinate, in addition, the soil structure improves markedly during the season. Also, straw protects potatoes well from frost and overheating. The tubers on the "straw" beds are large and clean, they are easy to clean.
But this method of growing has its drawbacks. Mice often wind up in the straw; they can destroy part of the crop. In addition, during the dry period, additional watering will be required, because the straw does not hold moisture well.
4. Landing in a cone
Victor Prokopchik, a well-known amateur vegetable grower from the Belarusian city of Bobruisk, proposed another unusual way of growing potatoes in barrows (cones). According to reviews by gardeners who have tried the method in practice, the potato yield in such a planting can reach up to 1.3 tons per one hundredth.
Potatoes are planted in cones as follows:
- On a site previously dug up and seasoned with fertilizers, circles with a diameter of 1.5-2 m are outlined.
- Tubers are laid around the perimeter of circles at a distance of 20-25 cm from each other.
- As the stems grow, the ground is raked up towards the center, forming a low hill. On its top make a small recess for irrigation.
When grown in cones, potatoes develop a powerful root system on which many tubers form. However, during the season, it is necessary to add soil more than once so that the roots are not exposed, and a favorable temperature regime is maintained inside the cone. This method can give a good effect only in small areas where the use of small-scale mechanization is very difficult.
5. Potatoes under the film
This method does not require hilling and, according to its supporters, allows you to get the first potato crop much earlier than usual. The essence of the method is as follows:
- On the prepared site, a black film (or agrofiber) is spread out and its edges are securely fixed with metal brackets or pegs.
- Cross-shaped incisions are made in the film in those places where it is planned to arrange the tubers (in rows or in a checkerboard pattern).
- Potatoes are planted in small pits dug in the places of incisions, and lightly sprinkled with soil.
And that's it, no more weeding and loosening is required, you just need to protect the potatoes in time from the Colorado potato beetle. Black covering material will not allow weeds to grow and will accumulate heat, contributing to a rapid increase in green mass and root development.
But this method also has a flip side - if the summer is hot, the tubers under the film will overheat, and with a large amount of precipitation, on the contrary, moisture will be retained. Perhaps a film shelter is a good option for getting an early harvest in regions with cool summers. But you have to constantly monitor the condition of the soil under the film in order to avoid overheating and fungal diseases.
6. Potatoes in bags or barrels
If there is very little space on the site and there is nowhere to arrange the beds, it is quite possible to limit yourself to large plastic bags, iron barrels, and even buckets. In this way, some amateur growers grow potatoes not only in the country, but also on the balcony of a city apartment.
Plastic bags are filled with light fertile soil, cut into them and planted tubers. Bags can be placed at the edges of the plot, in the backyard of the house or in any other suitable place. The main thing is that the plants are well lit by the sun.
Look after such potato plantings, as usual - water, do top dressing, protect from diseases and pests. And to get the crop, you just need to shake the contents out of the bag or other container and collect the tubers.
When planting in a barrel or bucket, it is recommended to lay the potatoes on a small layer of soil, and then gradually add soil, bringing the height to 1 m. Some argue that from a single barrel with good care you can collect almost a bag of potatoes. But it should be remembered that potato tubers are formed only at the beginning of the growth of bushes, before flowering. And no matter how high the plant is covered with earth, this will not lead to the formation of new underground shoots.
This method has one serious drawback - small containers are very warmed up by the sun. And if you place bags or barrels in the shade, then the bushes will lack sunlight, which will affect the amount of the crop.
7. Growing potatoes in a pit
This method is similar to the previous one, the only difference is that the pit serves as a container for growing potatoes. The size of the planting pit can be arbitrary, the depth is at least 40 cm. A layer of compost is poured on the bottom, tubers are laid on top of it, they are lightly covered with another layer of compost. Further, the soil is filled up in the same way as when growing potatoes in barrels.
Landing in a pit is possible only if the groundwater lies deep. Otherwise, the potato may grow poorly or even rot.
All alternative methods of planting potatoes give a good effect in small areas. However, for planting tubers on 10-20 acres, and, especially, for growing crops on an industrial scale, unconventional methods are not suitable. The labor costs in this case will be much greater than with a conventional landing.