My Experience Growing Blue Fingerling Potatoes in Pure Compost
Hello, fellow gardeners! Have you heard that planting the seeds of the crops that previously grew on your land is potentially better than growing 'foreign' crops? Seed-saving! I love saving beans (of course) and I think they're getting bigger after each successive harvest! I think it's because the plant and its biology get adapted to that particular soil texture/structure.
But can this apply to potatoes? Yes and no. If you planted the seeds of your potato fruits (which are full of poisonous solanine) then maybe. However, most normal people grow their potatoes by seed potato, or some small tubers (or a big one cut up). The tubers, actually a modified form of the stem, are clones of the parent plant. Clones are a genetic dead end, however, you always know what the outcome will be.
Some tubers always make it from one year to the next, either as volunteers or they just never got eaten. In the dark, the eyes will produce long stems which will remain white.
Put them where they can get some light and they will change to green and purplish. Unfortunately, what gives them their beautiful color, anthocyanin, is not known to have any beneficial effects on health; it's just color. I had read that a good time to plant potatoes is around St. Patrick's day or about 6 weeks before the last frost date for your area. I went ahead and planted them a week early since we were having a spell of warm weather.
I planted the potatoes about 8 inches deep and 6in apart in a bed of aged compost. Tomatoes grew in it last year when it was first freshly made. Early this year, I amended it with charged biochar in the top few inches, added a thin layer of dry grass, then top-dressed that with maplewood mulch.
By April, almost exactly a month later, some sprouts were finally starting to emerge! A few were coming up with brown tips and I didn't know why.
Two full months later, in June, they looked like this. The vegetative stage continues. They don't need waterb too often. The compost is very good at retaining water (despite the bed having drainage holes).
Another 2 months later and we're finally caught up to present day. As of the end of August, we are now in the flowering stage! I thought the blooms were going to be purple or blue.
The plants have gotten massive.
No fruits are forming so I guess I can't save true seeds even if I wanted to.
Now there is some browning of the foliage, a different kind than before. Before it was wet and probably cause by the coffee grounds I through in to protect them from critters. This time the foliage is turning dry and crunchy, but not the way it should be.
Another is afflicted with mealy bugs. Some odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile) eagerly tend then as their cows, getting sweet honeydew in exchange for protection.
I suspect it will be at least another month before harvest time. I'm already excited to start digging though! There should be lots of creepy crawlies in the bin due to all the decaying matter. I threw in a few cell spiders from my active compost bin in order to control the 'slater' population. I've also been tossing in strawberry seed beetles.
Their larvae are predatory so maybe they will take out any scarab beetle larvae that decide to take up residence here.
Once the potato foliage had died back fully, I will harvest. Fingerling potatoes are supposed to take 120 days to mature but my purple kind are taking longer.
I'm already excited to plan what to plant in that bed next! What do you think? What do you rotate to after a 'root' crop? Beans to restore the soil? There will be plenty of time to decide. Right now I still have to plant spinach in a spot that opened up where my turban pumpkin plant (from last month's challenge) has died back.
Here is the link to the announcement post: https://peakd.com/hive-140635/@riverflows/hive-gardeners-its-time-for-the-september-gardenjournal-challenge-25-hive-in-prizes