growing potatoes-in the ozarks : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have run across somthing that is bugging me. Around here (edge of Ozarks in SW MO) people are always in a huge hurry to plant everything before it gets too hot-that I do understand. If timing goes right-peas and onions do great. and then other thigns like beans and tomaotes and squash do well too-though sometime the bugs get a good bit. But with potatoes-well what seems to happen is that everyone plants them early, early, early(the mad rush) and then they can't overwinter them because they harvest in July and August! That is the hottest dryest time of year here!

I have asked around and everyone agrees that the rule of thumb is plant extra and plant as early as possible...and buy your potatoes from the store next winter. Ugh. No offense to anyone who might be a big scale potatoe farmer, but those store bought potatoes just are not as good-or at least not consistently as good as homegrown.

So a friend and I got to talking-we are both from the north originally (northern Il for me and southern WI for her) and we both are stumped. The reasoning behind all this is that it gets too hot and too dry in July and August for most crops, potatoes included. But aren't potatoes supposed to do well when it is dry? what if we mulch them really deeply?

What we are thinking of doing is experiment-we will plant some early potatoes, a couple of weeks apart and then experiement and see just how late we can go here, hopefully timing harvest for after it cools down in October. We were even considering doing it together -staggering our plantings from each other and then comparing things. Already we have been told "it wil never work here in Missouri."

Should we try it, or are we wasting money and sweat and time? anyone plant potatoes here and time it so that your main crop is harvested in the cooler weather like they do in the North? Is there something to the early planting here or are we running into a local myth/practice that is just one of those 'its the way we do it around here' things?

thanks, Sarah

-- Sarah (, April 05, 2001


Sarah here in south central missouri i have a freind that plants his spuds in the spring then waits untill oct. to dig them and last year when it was the dryest weve had for a while, where he normally gets 100-150 lbs of spuds last year he got over 300lbs in the same spot. dale

-- dale (, April 05, 2001.

Climates are radically different in parts of the US. I would expect the locals basically know what they are doing and probably have been doing it for a long time. Here in the Sonoraian desert of Arizona we plant our "spring" garden in October and harvest is done by the end of March. Remember "When in Rome do as the Romans do."

-- Lynn Goltz (, April 05, 2001.


that is what I thought (when in Rome do as the Romans), but I guess I migth clarify a bit. :) most of the people we are with most of the time are either part of our Mennonite community or don't garden.

In the Mennon community-most come from Ohio and have had to relearn gardening-and do a few things that I know can be improved upon. Plus a good number of them have clayey soil compared to ours-and that is apart of the rush I am sure. We often have heavy rains in April and May and even June, and that makes it hard to get potaotes planted because it is so mucky. Many use hay only (not planting them deep and hilling them). Our soil is, on the otherhand, very sandy and is easier to work with. We have great crops of potaotes-only they are ready in June and July. and don't store well. I asked a market gardener who is from PA and he said that he doesn't grow but a few potaotes (for his family because he concentrates on other things that are easier/cheaper to harvest and sell well into the fall. he said that I might be onto something-he ahd not really thougth of it because he didn't grow potaotes much.

Then the other people only grow tomatoes and beans and maybe corn- they are usually workign in their small in town lots and don't have enough room to grow the big stuff or potaotes-and the local greenhouses do not order but a small amount of seed potaotes because everyone else (the mennos go to the market gardener who happens to be Menno)

So maybe my situation is atypical...I don't know-but form what I have seen I am tending to think more towards doing what that guy from the other response (I am sorry I forgot your name) wrote about.

thanks again!


-- Sarah (, April 05, 2001.

We are in the Ozarks, and are just about to plant our potatoes. We harvest some in June/July for sale at farmers market (premium new potato prices) and leave the rest in the ground to harvest as we need them. We cover them with mulch when it gets hot and dry, and they keep fine in the ground till it freezes. Some market gardeners plant a second crop for fall new potatoes, but they have to be irrigated. We don't try too hard to dig all the potatoes, since the ones left in the ground over winter will yield the earliest new potatoes the next spring. The biggest problem is finding the rows after the plants have died back. We try to keep a few stakes in the ground as markers.

-- David C (, April 05, 2001.

Hello Sarah, Everyone here plants their potatoes after March 17th. One person I know plants in late Febuary but, he is an exemption to the rule. I plant by the signs. I planted my potatoes on March 20th because it was a favorable (zodiac) day to plant root crops. At harvest, the general rule is to leave the potatoes in the ground until October. Usually, I will dig out a few during the late summer but, harvest the bulk of them before first frost. Sweet potatoes are planted in late April/May. I presently have my slips growing and they will be ready then. They will be harvested AFTER the first frost. Sincerely, Ernest

-- Ernest in the Ozarks (, April 05, 2001.

Sarah, we live in Ozark co. and my husband plants somewhere around memorial day and lets them in the ground to around halloween. he covers them with a lot of hay during the the really hot months and runs a hose with little holes in it for water. i know i'm not much of a gardner but i watch what he does and we always have good spuds. sally

-- sally stanton (, April 09, 2001.

I live in N IL and this will be my third year planting potatoes. The first year I planted them early and had lots of bug & weed problems. Last year I planted May 5 and mulched with straw. I had no bug problems at all and harvested them just before the first frost. They were the best potatoes I've ever eaten. The self-sufficient gardener says it's risky to plant to early and my experience here seems to reflect better luck later. Try planting some at different times and see how it goes for you. Good Luck!

-- Jean (, April 09, 2001.

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