Why no potatoes on neighbor's plants?

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My neighbor has no computer or internet access, so asked me to poll you folks: Last year, she put in a garden for the first time here. Lives about a mile from me, so basically the same soil type. I got potatoes, she didn't. Planted the same type, but she fertilized every week with Miracle Grow. Got lovely plants, but not one potato on any of them. Was it the Miracle Grow? My plants get eaten by midsummer by grasshoppers, until there was nothing left but stems, but I left them and they still produced potatoes. Not a huge harvest, but not bad. I can't imagine what else it could be, but told her I would ask. Thanks! Jan

-- Jan B (Janice12@aol.com), March 10, 2000


Jan, I believe that she probably had too much nitrigen from the Miracle Grow. Miracle Grow makes some really nice tomatoes, but I think that was what wrong with the potatoes. I know my ex-husband put some ammonium nitrate on some potatoes one time, being certain that it would make great big potatoes, and got nothing from those plants while the ones in the next row made really well. She needs to use a balanced (8-8-8) type of commercial fertilizer if she doesn't have manure. People used to not try to cover the whole area with manure, but just used a shovel to put down a strip of rotted manure in the bottom of the planting row. Maybe she could try that if she didn't want to use the commercial fertilizer.

-- Green (ratdogs10@yahoo.com), March 11, 2000.

There is no question in my mind that your neighbor tried to be too nice and over fertilized. This is absolutely typical of a nitrogen overload. Potatoes should have a balanced diet of nutrients (N,P,K). Too much of any one will lead to one problem or another. I broadcast 10-10-10 before tilling (in addition to compost) and do not feed for the rest of the year. This works for me. Good luck!


-- Brad (homefixer@mix-net.net), March 11, 2000.

Have to agree with Brad. Don't overfeed potatoes. Generally, in fall we decide where we'll plant next spring's potatoes then cover that area with a thin layer [about 1"] of wood ashes and the same of manure. Till that under and let set over winter. Seems to work well for us.

-- Kathleen (kalfy53@hotmail.com), March 12, 2000.

You all have pretty well confirmed my suspicions, as we just put a layer of aged manure on our potato space in the fall, and till it in, so nothing special. I will tell her to give them a little less love and care this year and see what happens! She was amazed that I pick the potato and bean beetles off by hand as much as possible when they first start appearing, but will try that this year. Thanks again for all your replies! Jan

-- Jan B (Janice12@aol.com), March 12, 2000.

Potato and Bean Beetles are nasty. I raise Khaki Campbell ducks for bug patrol. They absolutely love waddling through the garden and eating their fill of bugs, grubs and slugs. They take an occasional nibble from some of my herbs, totally destroy my strawberries [definately need to enclose those better]....but, as a general rule leave everything else alone. Wish I could say the same for the geese. Have fenced them in their own field as well as fencing in the garden. Can never be too careful. The little pests [geese] are fine helpers so long as I'm in the garden to keep an eye on them; but, heaven help you if you let them in there alone! They'll wipe out anything and everthing if left to themselves.

-- Kathleen (kalfy53@hotmail.com), March 15, 2000.

We've never had a problem with too few potatoes. My Dad digs a very large furrow with the tiller and we go along behind and throw a bunch of manure in them. Then we hoe over the manure a bit. My sisters and I drop the potatoes in and Dad sprinkles lime on top. Someone then hoes dirt into hills over the potatoes. Besides the occasional weed and hoe, that's all we do for our potatoes!

-- Abigail (treeoflife@sws.nb.ca), March 16, 2000.

I forgot to mention that we use wood ashes to 'chase' away potato bugs, as well as flicking them off on our way by!

-- Abigail (treeoflife@sws.nb.ca), March 16, 2000.

I also cruz several gardening forums, mostly organic-leaning ones. There has been numerous discussions on the other forums, and they call Miracle-grow "Miracle NOT-grow". In their discussions about results when using it weekly like suggested on the box, you end up with beautiful bushy, green plants and nothing to harvest. Even on tomatoes. My suggestion is to limit the use of Miracle grow to house plants.

-- CC (car-col@usa.net), March 17, 2000.

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