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Thread: Overwintering potatoes?
- 13-07-2012, 11:30 AM #1
I was just listening to GQT and Bob Flowerdew mentioned that you can overwinter potatoes in the ground (i.e. not in bags in a greenhouse). Plant them a bit deeper, he said, and give them a loose mulch of straw etc. to keep the warmth in.
Has anyone tried this? I had such good results from my overwintered alliums this year (and such poor results with the actual potatoes) I'm wondering whether I should try spuds... I seem to get a fair few volunteers surviving without any coddling so with added coddle this may help with getting them started earlier?Proud member of the Nutters Club.
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- 13-07-2012, 12:15 PM #2
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- East coast of Ireland
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Much depends on the weather and the severity of it....
Whilst farming with my grandfather many years sgo, we used to actually store harvested potatoes in the ground.....dig a pit, put potatoes in, cover with straw and then cover pit in......so could work in theory.....
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- 13-07-2012, 01:35 PM #3Sprouter
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- West midlands.
The slugs would love this storage method!
- 13-07-2012, 05:39 PM #4
I do this every year, by mistake ... I always seem to miss a plant or two and they resprout the following spring. Free spuds though, so I'm not complaining.
(I have light sandy soil so waterlogging & rotting isn't a problem for them)
All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.
- 13-07-2012, 06:40 PM #5
Well, I remember digging up potatoes in a blizzard by the light of a mini Maglight one Christmas Eve a couple of years ago, and not one potato was frosted. That was despite some of them being part of the frozen crust of soil on the top, so clearly in hard frozen ground. I put some down on the ground and they were covered by snow so rapidly that I lost them; come spring when I found them in the grass, some of them were still unfrosted and edible !
I have since adopted a policy of leaving tatties in the ground over winter - basically I just don't worry about taking out the wee ones - and actually find that they continue bulking up and give a "second" crop when harvested in spring.
Both of the recent hard winters, I was harvesting potatoes until about March, despite temperatures of down to - 10 or less for periods of several days at a time. No mulch on top, just in the soil. (Well-drained loam.)
If you think about growing conditions in the Andes, it makes sense that some potatoes at least would be pretty resistant to frost. After all, they have to survive an Andean winter. Soaking wet then frost...a different matter I'd guess. We may find out this year...
For the record, those tatties were Orla, Osprey or Kestrel (I'm not sure which) and Red Duke of York.
- 13-07-2012, 09:12 PM #6
Planting deep in the ground will keep them frost free for sure. The minimum depth for the water service to your house is 2ft and builders being idle it would be very unusual to find one deeper than this and they never freeze.
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- 13-07-2012, 10:22 PM #7builders being idle it would be very unusual to find one deeper than this and they never freeze.
The two hard winters just past, every time the temperature dropped to below -8, the water supply in the house would stop. Turns out when they built the Housing Association cul de sac, the builders misread the plans...so the pipes are only eight inches down below the manholes ! Lots of pouring hot water over the stopcocks...
Eventually I put a million polystyrene beads round the stopcocks to keep the cold air out of the inspection pit, future plumbers may hate me but I always have water now...
Getting back on topic, when my father was a boy they stored tatties in an underground clamp, the secret was lots of layers of straw and a straw "chimney" at the top sticking out of the ground, to help the crop "breathe". Apparently this was done for all sorts of rootcrops, that would otherwise be inaccessible in winter when the ground froze hard.
- 13-07-2012, 10:38 PM #8Mature Fruiter
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It's not unknown in Aberdeenshire for farmers to give up on the prospect of being able to harvest spuds because conditions underfoot were too wet and to leave them till the following spring when conditions were more favourable. Straw is sometimes used to cover the fields to help protect from the frosts. In the days before air conditioning, as Kenny says, it was the practice to store harvested spuds in pits or clamps as they are known in some parts of the country.