But I'm not planting this year!

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Well, imagine this...I go out to the compost (plastic garbage) can in my garden to do my nightly dumping of stuff, and what do I see? A potato plant beside it. Look around, hey, there's another...and another...and another. This spring I moved the can to where we planted potatoes last year. We didn't plant anything this year because we have to make a two week trip during the driest part of the summer. Now I have four lonely, weed surrounded potato plants. Does this mean I missed some when I dug them up last year? Can't be from peelings, three of them are a good 3' or more from the compost can. Darn, I wonder if I should water them...

-- Rheba (rhebabeall@hotmail.com), July 03, 2001


either you missed some,, or a rotten potatoe started to sprout. I get them all the time, the compost is a great plant booster,, so they are just taking advantage of it. If you have a chance, go ahead and water them,, just to see what happens

-- Stan (sopal@net-port.com), July 04, 2001.

Of course you missed some. Always happens - unless you plant them in a tyre tower or mulch. People used to turn the pigs into the potato field after they'd harvested - fed the pigs, worked the field deeply as the pigs dug after the potatoes, manured it as well, cleaned up the potatoes so they wouldn't rot or otherwise form a source of disease, and stopped poisonous volunteer potato plants from growing amongst next year's crop or pasture.

Starting new compost, so you can just spread the current stuff over the potato plants, may help them survive a dry spell untended. So might a bale of straw as mulch - or shredded paper, or even sheet newspaper. Watering may help, but if so do it deep and seldom, so they have sub-soil reserves, and grow roots to go after it; rather than shallow roots to get easy frequent waterings.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), July 04, 2001.

Wish I had a pig. I have potatoes coming up all over my big garden. Had it tilled up really good this spring, and must have scattered some pot. I missed 2 years ago as I didn't plant any last year. Have pulled most of them out, I hope, but keep seeing new ones coming. I learned several years ago, not to put old pot. in the compost pile.

-- Duffy (hazelm@tenforward.com), July 06, 2001.

We planted tomatoes in the bed where we had potatoes last year and of course got a few volunteer plants from missed potatoes. I haven't checked to see if they are good companions. Does anyone know?

-- Cindy in NY (cjpopeck@worldnet.att.net), July 07, 2001.

From what I've heard Cindy, tomatoes and potatoes are not got compaions.

-- Joella (joruth@msn.com), July 07, 2001.

Potatoes and tomatoes are related (and chillis and capsicums and tobacco too). Diseases can cross over. They can have some nasty diseases working up one year, but not yet catastrophic. Plant a relative next year, and they can get destroyed, and build up a load in the soil which means you can't use it for any of the relatives for years. You need to have at least a year between planting any of these relatives in the same ground to be sure of not infecting the second crop. That's one reason why having the pigs clean up after the potatoes was such a good idea.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), July 08, 2001.

Thanks for the info about potatoes and tomatoes not being good companions. So far we have not seen any ill effects. We added a lot of compost to the bed before we put in the tomatoes so maybe that helped.

-- Cindy in NY (cjpopeck@worldnet.att.net), July 10, 2001.

Sorry - I should have said "ought not" rather than "shouldn't" - you can be lucky - in fact, you might be lucky much more often than not. If it's a home garden situation and it wouldn't destroy you to have to buy stuff then it could be worthwhile to nurse the accidents along and see what happens - plants that are two-months started have a value too. In this situation, that's what I'd do; but I certainly wouldn't deliberately create the situation. HOWEVER, on a commercial basis it's different - you must adopt practices that ensure you can't be wiped out, even if the chances are unlikely, because if you got a year's crops wiped out, and maybe even couldn't use the land for that for another five years, then you're out of business - so on a commercial basis you don't take those chances.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), July 10, 2001.

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