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Author Topic: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!  (Read 7622 times)

princesslayer

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Tadley, Hants
Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« on: March 11, 2015, 04:20:43 pm »
Hello  :wave:

I'm thinking if doing my potatoes under plastic this year. Less weeding, less watering and less green potatoes!

I've also heard you get more slugs.

Anybody have an opinion/experience?

Thanks!

UPDATE - This worked surprisingly well. We've had loads of dry weather here and I have barely watered the new potatoes (the only ones under plastic) and the ground is still moist underneath. The rest of my patch is like the Sahara. Potatoes were a good size, very plentiful and no pests to speak of. Weeds virtually non-existent so very low maintenance. Next year I'll be doing loads more under plastic. Though typically it will be a wet summer and everything will rot...you can never really win!
« Last Edit: July 22, 2015, 10:40:25 pm by princesslayer »
Keeper of Jacob sheep, several hens, Michael the Cockerel and some small children.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Potatoes under plastic
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2015, 05:42:19 pm »
I frequently grow my tatties under weed suppressing fabric.  I tried black polythene but no water got through.  We rotavate in manure to the plot, then plant the tubers near the surface, then sprinkle the soil with organic slug pellets, place a thick layer of old straw over the top, then put the fabric on, well held down. Put a sprinkle of slug pellets on the surface, around the edges and into the planting holes.  Also use varieties which are less prone to slug damage.
Unfortunately we have terriers and they just know there must be rodents under there so they rip holes in the fabric.....  It works fairly well in spite of this, but don't expect it to be completely weed free.
The soil it leaves behind is wonderful.  Cover it again if you can once you've cropped the potatoes, and the soil will be the most wonderful crumbly structure ready for planting next spring.

Modified to say that, now I come to think of it, we cut the holes in the fabric then scrape out a hole in the soil through the fabric with a trowel to plant the tubers in, then cover it back up.  That makes sure the potatoes grow precisely under the holes.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2015, 11:53:19 pm by Fleecewife »
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Penninehillbilly

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Potatoes under plastic
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2015, 11:05:26 pm »
I used to grow spuds under black poly, had good crops, then listened to others who said it was no good  ???   ??? , so foolishly went back to traditional ways (also partly because poly had got too tattered) but last year used poly again, sadly because of health problems that bed was planted too late for a decent crop, but will use it again on more beds this year.
We used to run some 'leaky hose' round the bed, under the poly, just had to be careful when digging crop. Friends said there would be lots of slugs, I found some very fat frogs  ;D .
Main problem I remember (after we'd sorted the watering/leaky hose system) was mice, when it was very dry summer they must have been after the moisture in the potatoes near the surface.

princesslayer

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Tadley, Hants
Re: Potatoes under plastic
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2015, 06:44:44 pm »
Thanks both, we have a lot of mice/voles and I think they will love it under there.  Might try half and half and see which does better, or is less hassle!
Keeper of Jacob sheep, several hens, Michael the Cockerel and some small children.

nutterly_uts

  • Joined Jul 2014
  • Jersey - for now :)
Re: Potatoes under plastic
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2015, 02:26:59 pm »
A lot of the royals here are planted under plastic on the cotils :) Never done it but it works well :D

princesslayer

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Tadley, Hants
Re: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2015, 10:41:28 pm »
Bumped after update.
Keeper of Jacob sheep, several hens, Michael the Cockerel and some small children.

cloddopper

  • Joined Jun 2013
  • South Wales .Carmarthenshire. SA18
Re: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2015, 11:22:10 pm »
Sounds good , did you have any slug problems under the plastic sheet ?
Strong belief , triggers the mind to find the way ... Dyslexia just makes it that bit more amusing & interesting

princesslayer

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Tadley, Hants
Re: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2015, 09:56:46 am »
Sounds good , did you have any slug problems under the plastic sheet ?

No slug problems, though I have been creepily slug free this year. Must be all the murdering I did last year...
Keeper of Jacob sheep, several hens, Michael the Cockerel and some small children.

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
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Re: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2015, 10:32:41 am »
Slugs?  what are they?   Ducks seen to them!
Linda

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Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2015, 11:30:07 am »
Ducks, if you have them, may sort surface slugs, but many slugs live underground, especially the ones that make huge nests inside your spuds.  Also ducks can't get under a poly sheet, hence the organically acceptable slug pellets we use. I know they're not ideal.

I've not been able to get to my potatoes to earth them up, because of the incessant rain this part of Scotland has had, and now the haulms have closed the gap, so I know I will have a fair proportion of greened tubers.  So I may well go back to black mulch of one sort or the other for next season.

I was thinking princesslayer, that it will be interesting to see how your maincrop spuds do next year, compared to the earlies this year.  Here the weeds go berserk after the earlies are cropped, so could be more of a problem than you've had this year.

Don't forget to keep us in the loop with next year's results  :thumbsup:
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Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

princesslayer

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Tadley, Hants
Re: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2015, 11:50:45 pm »
Here the weeds go berserk after the earlies are cropped, so could be more of a problem than you've had this year.


I was thinking of throwing something in the space this week, perhaps leeks or some salads. Do you stick any other crops after early spuds for ground cover? I might even try green manure to dig in.
Keeper of Jacob sheep, several hens, Michael the Cockerel and some small children.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2015, 12:24:17 am »
I have tried keeping the polythene in place and putting leeks in through the same holes cut for the potatoes. The leeks grow huge, partly because of the rich soil, and because they are far apart, but of course you don't get very many.  I still had the problem of some weeds coming up through the holes, and of the terriers digging underneath and tearing the fabric.

I'm a great believer in green manures, in principal, but I don't use them.  I once tried grazing rye but it grew about 8' tall, and was far too tough, with amazing roots, so couldn't be dug in.
Now I can't find anything which would survive our winters, except maybe clover, but that needs 2 or 3 years to be worthwhile.  The weeds outcompeting the green manure is also an impossible problem.
Ideally, I spread a thick layer of partially rotted manure, or hen house cleanings, then cover the lot with a tarp or polythene.  By spring the soil underneath is wonderful, and warm too.  You can then cut holes and plant things directly without having to lift the plastic or do even a token dig.

Another thing to follow on after new spuds is pot grown winter brassicas.  This depends on when your first earlies are lifted - here it's a bit of a rush, because the spuds are ready later than down south, but the brassicas need to go in a bit earlier, ideally.  But for you, that could work well.  You could even sow a low growing green manure between the brassica plants.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2015, 10:30:45 am by Fleecewife »
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Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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pgkevet

  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2015, 08:35:14 am »
I missed out on the Royals seed potatoes this year and used a different variety (can't remember what it is) but it's been so heavy cropping that I still have  half of them in the ground. Since my veggre patches are in a corner of mixed flower and hay meadow I've given up any idea of getting them weed free so as soon as spuds are lifted we start chucking the hen waste on there and plough in for winter. Green manure seeds cost too much for my patches.
I have just sown another mix of brassicas..nowt to lose but a few seeds..year round cauli, more psb, assorted cabbages. The first brassica sowings are raedy - even the psb, the second sowing is marching on but the third sowing got hammered by wildlife and pests. Depending how the weather goes you might even gamble on another row of peas..if it fails it's green manure?

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2015, 10:33:17 am »
How do you eat all those brassicas pgkevet?  We're swamped with just a few rows.
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Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

pgkevet

  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Potatoes under plastic-UPDATE!
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2015, 03:52:02 pm »
How do you eat all those brassicas pgkevet?  We're swamped with just a few rows.

Ah, well..I don't..soetimes too any ripen at once and get given or thrown away, many get given away and some fail or get eaten by wildlife, escaped sheep or catterpillars... But this way there's always more than enough for me and there's no shortage of growing land here.

 

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