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Tips for Growing Potatoes in Straw – Are you trying to find a straightforward method to cultivate potatoes in raised beds? By learning how to cultivate them in straw, it is possible to simplify the planting, growth, and harvesting of potatoes. To get started producing potatoes over the next several months, all you need is some seed potatoes, a bale of straw, and a raised bed.
In my experience, both growing potatoes in grow bags and in raised beds presented their fair share of difficulties. The potatoes that were cultivated in bags had healthy growth, but the grow bags dried up quite soon. On the other hand, it turned out to be very hard to harvest all of the potatoes that were grown in raised beds, and I found myself plucking potato sprouts out of those beds for the next year.
Growing potatoes in straw turned out to be a simple and fruitful endeavor. Follow these eight steps to plant potatoes in straw, nurture their growth, and collect their crop.
8 Steps for Growing Potatoes in Straw
Potatoes may be grown successfully in straw if the following steps are followed.
1. Plant at the optimal time of year according to your local climate
Plant potatoes after the date of the last expected frost in locations with a cold winter environment when the soil temperature is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you plant potatoes when the ground is too cold, they could decay because of the cold. Bring in the harvest of potatoes before the first frost in the autumn.
2. Gather the materials needed for growing potatoes in straw
You’ll need a bale of straw for this (hay has seeds; avoid it if you can). I went to a nearby farm supply shop and bought one. Then, I loaded the straw bale into the cargo area of my minivan and drove it home.
The next thing you’ll need is potato seed. To get the best results, buy disease-free seed potatoes from a reputable seller online or in a garden supply store.
Potatoes of the “early” and “mid-season” determinate kinds should be planted in places with a short growing season, such as the low desert of Arizona.
Plants of the determinate variety grow more quickly than those of the indeterminate kind and provide a single harvest of a lower quantity 60–90 days earlier. Try out some Yukon Gold, Purple Viking, or All Red for some different varieties.
Pick indeterminate (also known as “late season”) kinds of potatoes to grow if you have a longer growing season.
Potatoes with an indeterminate growth pattern take between 110 and 135 days to mature and yield a greater yield that is layered numerous times along the stem. Late-season potatoes continue to produce new potatoes along the stem until either they are harvested or a frost kills them off. Either way, the process continues until the end of the season. You should try growing indeterminate types like Russian Blue, Canela Russet, and Ramona.
3. Prepare the seed potatoes before planting them
There is a greater likelihood of growth from seed potatoes that have been sprouted as opposed to them decomposing in the soil. Try following these instructions if the sprouts on your seed potatoes haven’t appeared just yet:
After placing the potatoes in a warm (75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius), dark setting for two to three days,
The seed potatoes are then “chitted,” or placed in an area where the temperature ranges from 15.5 to 21 degrees Celsius (60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit) and they are exposed to light.
After the potatoes have sprouted, you should break them up into pieces if they are any bigger than an egg. Make sure that each cut piece has between two and three eyes.
4. Get the ground ready
Pick a spot that enjoys sun exposure for at least six hours every day. Each season, it is vital to grow potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in different locations than the previous season. All of these plants belong to the family of nightshade (Solanaceae).
The best soil for growing potatoes is slightly acidic, has a pH between 5.0 and 6.0, and is full of calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
An excessive amount of nitrogen in the soil will result in green growth above ground, but it will slow the development of tubers below ground. You should have a soil test done, and then, if required, you should modify your soil.
The results of a soil test showed that my soil was alkaline. Before planting, I decreased the pH of the soil by using a soil acidifier.
Start the potato seeds inside.
Plant a sprouting seed potato every ten to twelve inches (25-30 cm). Plant one potato in each square of your square foot garden if you are utilizing that method.
There is no need to bury the potato; just place it shallowly in the soil.
A deep layer of straw, measuring around 6 inches (15 cm) in height, should be spread throughout the whole of the elevated bed.
If you are going to be using irrigation grids, you should position them on top of the straw. If you don’t use watering grids, you may want to set sticks on top of the straw to keep it in place. This is especially important if you don’t use watering grids.
6. Keep an eye on the potatoes as they grow
Within a couple of weeks, you should see some green sprouts breaking through the straw. When the leafy growth grows between 6 and 12 inches (15 and 30 centimeters) high, cover them with another thick covering of straw.
If you are using watering grids, you should slowly and gently peel the grid back (trying not to break the growing foliage). After the straw has been added, the grids should be placed back over the top of the straw. (An additional advantage offered by the grids is that they keep the straw in place.)
The potatoes should be thoroughly soaked in water using the straw as a medium. Aim to maintain a consistent level of moisture in both the straw and the soil underneath it. I will water the plants about once every seven days.
It shouldn’t be long until the potato sprouts are visible through the second layer of straw. Let the foliage develop to its full potential.
7. Before harvesting the sprouts, let them wither and die
As the time for harvest draws closer, the plants will start to wither and die. When this occurs, remove the potatoes from the water and set them aside.
It is a good idea to check on the size of the potatoes as well as their development at this stage in the process. Make a hole in the ground and pull it out. If the skin can be removed with little effort, the product won’t keep for as long. After the tops of the plants have died off, you should continue to leave them in the ground for another two weeks.
Because the potatoes spend more time in the ground, the skin has more time to dry out and become more resilient. As a result, the potatoes are less likely to be damaged and are better suited for long-term preservation.
You may harvest potatoes at any stage of growth as “fresh potatoes,” but if you don’t want to wait, you can pick them when they are fully mature. Although new potatoes may not keep for as long as other varieties, their superior flavor is due to their increased moisture content, thinner skins, and lower starch levels.
Check on your potatoes between 60 and 90 days after planting if they are determinate. Examine the progress of indeterminate plant species 100–120 days after planting.
8. Collect and properly preserve the potatoes that you have grown in straw
It’s easy to harvest potatoes that have been grown in straw:
- Reduce the amount of foliage.
- To remove the top layer of straw, simply pull it off (add to other garden areas or chicken coop).
- Perform a sifting operation on the bottom layer of straw as well as the top layer of soil. The majority of potatoes will be found either in the straw, on top of the soil, or just under the surface of the soil.
- Remove any loose dirt from the potatoes with a brush, but do not wash them.
After the potatoes have been harvested,
Avoid exposing them to the sun for an extended period of time. Prolonged exposure to light causes the skins to turn green, the potatoes to burn, and the development of soft regions that will eventually decompose.
The best way to store potatoes is in a place that is cool (not cold), dark, and damp.
Because I don’t have a root cellar, I had to bring the newly harvested potatoes indoors. At this time, I have them placed in a black trash bag (which helps to retain some humidity) in the closet in my house that is the coldest. I’ll keep an eye on them and make use of them over the next few weeks, and perhaps over the following few months as well.
These young potatoes are going to be used as “seed potatoes” for a planting that will take place in September.
I split my potatoes into bigger ones for eating and smaller ones to save for use as seed potatoes in the autumn due to the fact that here in the low desert of Arizona we only have two brief growing seasons.
The challenge will be to maintain a temperature that prevents the seed potatoes from sprouting during the course of the summer. We are keeping our fingers crossed that it will work since it has been difficult to get seed potatoes in September.