Potato question

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

This is the first year my potatoes are doing well, but now the weaker plants are getting brown spots and the leaves are starting to shrivel. Are the potatoes safe to eat, and should I harvest now before it gets worse, or can I wait til they get bigger. The biggest ones are about golf ball sized.

-- Rod Perrino (redjouster@aol.com), July 12, 2000


Hi Rod, hard to tell not being able to see the leaves, but you could have potato late blight. Here's what my garden book says...Area on the leaves and stems are dark brown. A downy white fungal growth appears in moist weather, mainly on leaf undersides. Rotten blotches develop on tubers. Disease spores are carried by wind and water from infected leaves to tubers that are near the soil surface. The disease overwinters in decaying plants and in harvested and stored tubers. Solutions.. To protect tubers, mound soil over base of plants so that spores can't fall onto tubers. water plants at ground level to keep the foliage dry, since spore mature in moisture. After foilage dies back, wait a wekk before harvesting the tubers. After harvesting remove and destroy all plant debris. (DON'T compost it). Rotate crop next year and buy disease resistant varieties. So, that's what the book says. If you feel like the problem is real bad, you might want to destroy the weak infected plants to keep it from getting to your good plants. I mentioned on another thread about putting corn meal on the ground around my tomatoes, for fungus problems. You might want to try that, especially with the plants that haven't been affected yet. The web has some excellent sites you might try and maybe some pitures so you could positively identify if this is the problem. Good luck, potatoes are my favorite crop and I hope your turn out great!

-- Annie (mistletoe@earthlink.net), July 12, 2000.


This may be why your corn meal may work: In Grow It, Richard Langer says: "Some insects, such as potato beetles, actually would prefer something else. Say a couple of nice mouthfuls of bran. Take some dry bran and sprinkle it on top of potato plants early in the morning. Come breakfast time, the bugs will stuff themselves and drink the dew to slake their thirst; suffed and content they'll loll in the sun till their guts burst open from the water-expanded bran."

On insects liking something else, I remember seeing a TV segment on some cotton farmer dealt with boll weevils by including strips of alfalfa in the field. The weevils preferred the alfalfa to the cottom plants. Also I have heard of sprinking finely ground corn meal on ant hils on the theory the workers carry it to the queen and it ruptures her stomach also.

There is also companion planting on the theory some pests love one plant but hate another so if planted nearly one deters them. There is at least one book on this but the name escapes me. In Grow It Langer says potatoes planted next to beans will help guard against Mexican bean beetles.

Langer goes on it say this about basic anti-pest precautions: 1. Use crop rotation, even in your vegetable garden. 2. Choose disease- and insect-resistant plant varieties wherever possible. 3. Always remove dead or diseased plants. 4. Cleanliness is vital. Keep the orchard and garden free of trimmings and waste. 5. Take care of the birds and they'll take care of you. Come to a happy agreement on the fruit crops by giving them their own to eat.

-- Ken Scharabok (scharabo@aol.com), July 13, 2000.

Hi Ken, have heard of using grits to kill fire ants, but didn't know about the potato beatle. But, on the Volunteer Gardening show that I saw the piece about the corn meal, they were talking about funguses and not pests. The lady on the show was talking about funguses, then proceeded to give the recipe for the baking soda and horticutural soap mixture, then, she said if you didn't want to use the spray, you could broadcast cornmeal on the ground to control funguses. She said they didn't know why it worked on controling funguses, only that they thought it had some reaction to the bad microbes in the soil. Have you got any ideas on why it might work? Seem like the experts can't pin it down, only they know it works!

-- Annie (mistletoe@earthlink.net), July 13, 2000.


Don't have a clue how or why it would work. Maybe something like adding vinegar to chicken water. Experts say it won't make any difference but apparently a lot of homesteaders say it does.

-- Ken Scharabok (scharabo@aol.com), July 14, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ