Cullman Senior Spring 2021 - Page 21

many third world countries that could greatly benefit from the dense nutrition found in potatoes . Fortunately , the major seed companies are working to develop true seed for potatoes that can be easily shipped , stored and grown . We have much more genetic diversity in potatoes now than we have had in the past but a true seed for potatoes could be a game changer in much of the world . It may be some time before potato seed are readily available to the general public but adventurous gardeners could get some to try through mail order . There is a true seed variety called Clancy that has been available mail order for a couple years now and it was named an All American Selection in 2019 . It is really more of a novelty for American gardeners because we have access to dozens of good varieties to choose from using the traditional tuber seed potatoes commonly available at local farm supply or feed and seed stores .
Irish and red potatoes have their yield influenced by season , variety , soil type , moisture availability , and amount of nutrients available to the plant . Highest yields are obtained in years with cool temperatures and adequate moisture throughout the season .
Potatoes are heavy feeders in term of fertilizer usage . For good growth and production apply about one pound of complete fertilizer ( such as 10-10-10 ) for each 100 feet of garden row before planting . Add about that much more about 45 days after planting .
Plant potatoes 3 to 4 weeks before the last killing frost . Use only certified seed ( tuber ) stock . Seed ( tubers ) potatoes should be firm and un-sprouted . Cut the seed potatoes into pieces weighing about 2 ounces or the size of a small egg . Each seed piece must have at least one good bud or eye . Plant the pieces about three inches deep , 10 to 12 inches apart . They also do excellent in raised beds and containers where they are much easier to harvest . I use large containers ( old livestock mineral tubs with drain holes cut are great ) and simply dump them out to harvest the potatoes .
After the plants emerge and begin to grow , mound soil around the plants . This simply means pulling soil around the plants several times during their early growth until the seed pieces are about 6 inches deep . If you use containers like I do just fill them ½ to 2 / 3rds when planting and continue to add more potting soil as they grow until the container is filled .
Potatoes are ready to harvest when they are mature and the skin is set ( does not slip off too easily ). Depending on the season , this is usually 90 to 120 days after planting .
Avoid bruising potatoes when digging . Store potatoes for a week at 65 to 70 degrees F in the dark to help heal wounds . Mine usually don ’ t last that long since I don ’ t grow enough to store for later use but I really love fresh boiled potatoes . My favorite meal is a good low country shrimp boil with new red or ‘ arsh ’ taters , sweet corn , onion , Conecuh Sausage and fresh Alabama Gulf Shrimp . Get out there and plant some potatoes now because I am getting hungry .
Pictured below are Tony Glover ’ s son Luke and grandson Sam harvesting red potatoes .
CULLMAN COUNTY SENIOR MAGAZINE SPRING 2021 | 21