Useful information

Growing potatoes under straw

I have read, heard and seen much earlier (thanks to the Internet) about the use of straw as mulch in potato planting: without hilling, with hilling during the growing season, with planting in holes, furrows, with the addition of ash, mineral fertilizers, humus to the holes or furrows , compost, dry grass. I'll tell you about my experience.

Soil and climatic conditions

The soil on our site (Eastern Siberia, Angarsk) was originally sod-podzolic. Now, in terms of granulometric composition, it is at the level of light loam.

The optimal time for planting potatoes with us is late May - early June, since the land usually warms up by 15-20 cm. Harvesting time is early September. June is rather warm or cool, sometimes cold and dry. Frequent frosts up to June 15-20. July is mostly hot or rainy or sultry. August is no longer summer. Cold dew, frost is possible in the second half. Suitable for growing early or mid-early varieties of potatoes.

Pre-landing actions

When the soil warms up even a little deeper in the sun, but still does not become dry, to cut the weeds I walk through the plot with a "Swift" type cutter, only with wheels - rippers (you can simply "Swift" or Fokin's flat cutter). You don't have to go through at all, it all depends on the number and type of weeds. This is somewhere in the last decade of May. Everything! The soil is ready - the main thing is that it has already gained solar heat.

Tuber preparation

I always cook seed potatoes in the fall. I select tubers from the best plants, wash them in a solution of potassium permanganate, dry them and put them into storage according to varieties.

A month before planting, I take out the tubers. I germinate some in cool in diffused light (green sprouts), some in cool in the dark (white sprouts). I did not notice any tangible difference in harvests.

Landing

As mulch, we use straw, leaf litter from forests and parks, last year's straw from green manure (phacelia, oats, mustard), as well as hay obtained after mowing the grass under fruit trees and berry bushes. In addition, at first (until the soil recovers), I advise you to use a little humus or peat.

Using a flat cutter or a narrow hoe, cut shallow (3-4 cm deep) furrows with 70 cm row spacing. We spread the tubers at a distance of 30 cm from each other. Add a handful of humus. If you have the opportunity and desire, you can spill it with any EM preparation. We huddle, taking the soil from the aisles. It turns out a mound with a height of 5 to 12 cm. The height depends on the amount of "straw". The less it is available, the higher you need to huddle. Due to the fact that we have little dry vegetable mulch, we spud the potatoes only once (when planting). This is necessary to preserve moisture over the tuber at first, until the “straw” settles down and microorganisms and earthworms begin to process it, and, of course, so that the crop does not turn green later.

This is one of the main points. Everything must be taken into account here. What is the weather forecast in your area for the next 2-3 weeks, how much "straw" you have, what quality it is. Straw is pure hay, leaves, weeds, or a mixture of these. If you plant the tubers in cold soil, the potatoes will lag behind in development by about a week, because under the "straw" the soil slowly warms up. For example, last year 2013, when May-June was very cold in our country, the soil could not warm up under the mulch. The harvest has fallen. Conclusion: it is necessary to plant only when the soil warms up very well.

The maximum thickness of the bedspread also depends on the quality of the "straw". Grain straw can be laid in a layer of both 30 and 40 cm. But foliage - with a layer of 10-15 cm. Mixtures are between these indicators.

Care

There was no rain in June 2011. And it was hot. Just in case, I once watered the potato planting with sprinkling.If initially there was not enough "straw", then during the growing season you can safely put cut weeds, hay, mown grass, cut green manure. The main thing is to create a "veil" under which life boils. Under such mulch, potatoes are not afraid of June frosts, optimal modes of humidity, heat and nutrition are maintained. You will be surprised to see the number of worms in the fall. And potatoes can be easily dripped in for lunch.

About pests and diseases

Scab damage to potatoes was much less. There was no late blight at all. No "white leg", no rot. The wireworm does not climb into loose soil. There is evidence that the Colorado potato beetle does not attack significantly mulched crops. The reason, apparently, is that he was deceived and bewildered by the smell of not potatoes, but mulch. We have no beetle - Siberia! The scoop was gone. Slugs - negligible.

Yield

Under "straw" it was obtained in terms of a hundred square meters and, depending on the variety, from 600 to 750 kg of potatoes - this is very good. Over time, when there is more mulch and the soil recovers, the yield will be much higher. I know of a case when I managed to get about 2 tons per hundred square meters.Now we will plant only half a hundred for food in this way. And the same amount for breeding and maintaining varieties.

Under the "fur coat"

In the fall of 2011, after harvesting potatoes, he brought to the site more than 100 bags of foliage from maples, birches, lilacs, as well as pine needles. Collected them in a park on the outskirts of the city.

In the spring, already 2 years as an unplowed vegetable garden, I laid out sprouted tubers of different varieties in rows (I have more than 30 of them). Part of it was spud 3-5 cm with soil, part of it was covered with 3-5 cm of peat. And covered with a layer of foliage of 5-10 cm, in some places with straw in a layer of 20-30 cm, in some places with hay in a layer of 5-10 cm. It is worth noting that the foliage was caked and it was necessary to stir it up a little! And further. I added a handful of compost to each potato.

Distance between rows 70-80 cm.In a row - 25-30 cm... I planted some of the potatoes in two-row rows with 1 m spacing, in a row between the lines - 70 cm, staggered in a row with a distance of 30x40 cm. No further care was required. But my goal was to "grow" the land. Therefore, in the aisles I sowed where phacelia, where mustard. When they grew up, I cut off the green mass with a flat cutter, spread it over the potatoes and sowed the aisles again, changing crops. The land should not be empty!

The plot did not weed, removed only single large weeds (quinoa and spurge), did not water, did not spud. The harvest was pretty good. There was quite a lot of scab on the tubers, especially varieties that were not resistant to it. Conclusions: it is better to plant potatoes in this way after rain or rain. The layer of foliage needs to be increased to 15-20 cm. There is no need to be afraid. Potatoes easily break through foliage. But we will save valuable moisture, thereby increasing the yield and reducing the damage to the tubers by scab. It is better to sow seeds of plants with fast germination and growth (larger than phacelia) in the aisles.

The harvest was better in the area with peat. It is imperative to treat the earth from fungi - scab pathogens. But this is a separate topic.

Photo by the author

Experienced tips

The cross section activates the potato tubers. The tuber is cut perpendicular to its axis, only a small part is left uncut, no more than 1 cm thick in the form of a jumper. As a result of this operation, 70% of the nutrients are directed to the growth point, the eyes germinate at the same time. After each cut, the knife must be disinfected in a solution of potassium permanganate or over a candle flame. Tubers are prepared in advance, at least 2 weeks before planting, so that the incision sites are corked.

Valery Shafransky, Yekaterinburg

Heat shock method

This method is used by Dutch and German potato growers. Initially, the tubers are germinated for 7–8 days in a warm room at a temperature of 15–20 ° C until short, up to 1–2 cm, sprouts appear. Then the boxes are transferred to a bright room with a temperature of 6–8 ° С. The total warming-up period is 35–40 days.This method allows the greatest number of eyes to be awakened, resulting in the development of more vigorous, multi-stemmed plants with more tubers.

If it is not possible to germinate the tubers, you must at least warm them up 8-10 days before planting.

Wilting is also a good way. Seed tubers should be spread in a 10–20 cm layer in a warm room and kept for 1–1.5 months until sprouts appear. Reception accelerates the emergence of seedlings.

Irina Shabina, agronomist, Nizhny Novgorod

If there is no time

The day before planting, the planting material is laid out indoors and sprayed, for example, with Heteroauxin (2-5 g per 10 l of water), Gibberellin, succinic acid. This accelerates the germination of the eyes not only at the top, but also at the bottom of the tuber.

Oleg Matyunin, experienced vegetable grower, Nizhny Novgorod

"Garden for the soul and good rest" (Nizhny Novgorod), No. 3, 2014

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