Planting Potatoes: Cut or Single Drop?

There are two general ways of planting seed potatoes: planting a whole, small potato the size of a small egg (called a “single drop”), or cutting larger potatoes into chunks, letting the chunks dry a bit, and planting those.  I tried both this year, using the same variety of potatoes, and here’s what they look like just before flowering:

Potatoes

Guess which two rows came from cut potatoes?

(Please ignore the “grass”; my straw sprouted a very nice crop of wheat! I’ve since weeded this out.)

Ahem.

So, potatoes. What you see above are all planted at the same time, same depth, same density, same irrigation – it’s just that the plant from the cut potatoes are so much less robust.  We’ll see how they produce, but I don’t have hopes of 1.5 lb/sf from the cut potatoes, whereas 1-1.5 lb/sf is typical from the single drops.  Of course, you need a lot more seed potatoes to start with. I have some other experiments with spacing and such in other parts of the garden; I’ll let you know how that turns out.

I also have potato beetles for the first time ever this year.  They are in two of my beds and not at all in the other two.  Not really sure why; there’s no consistent pattern of potato variety, soil, or mulch.  So I’m hand-picking like crazy; every time I go out I pull off all the larvae I can find and throw them in a bucket of soapy water to drown.  It’s not hard, or even particularly gross, but it’s annoying: potatoes have always been a no-fuss crop for me.  Ah well.  Each year, one pest bug seems to boom, and this year, it’s potato beetles.  Hopefully I can keep the vast majority of them from spawning a second generation, and hopefully crop rotation and a parallel boom in predators will take care of things next year.

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4 Comments

  1. July 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks for the useful information regarding planting potatoes. It is interesting that the bugs are in some of your potatoes but not others. Maybe you have something living in the clean gardens that eats the bugs for you.

    • Emily said,

      July 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      Another explanation I read somewhere was that using thick mulch keeps the beetles from emerging and climbing up the plants. I know the bed with the worst infestation had the thinnest mulch, so maybe there’s something to that. That area was also partially planted in potatoes last year. Rotate! Rotate!

  2. Deb W said,

    July 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Hello Emily, You know how it goes when out of the blue a friend asks, “What’s the difference between male and female Squash blossoms?” and you know that you know the answer (you can just tell, that’s all) but would just like a little confirmation? Well, I just Googled it and there you were! So I’m passing on a link to your article (A picture truly IS worth a thousand words; )

    As you can see, I’ve come back for more (but for me this time) and although I haven’t had the time yet to see where you’ve gleaned your information (mine’s mostly from Grandma, Mom ‘n Dad and old issues of Organic Gardening Magazine), but so glad that you’ve got such a well-balanced approach to gardening and thanks for sharing! Also lovin’ the recipes!

    • July 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks Deb :)))
      Ive shared it on my foodie page.
      Now to go inspect my own , and see what Ive got out there.
      Great blog Emily !!


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