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Grow Potatoes the Easy Way
By Stacy Hall

Few vegetables can compete with potatoes for universal appeal, ease of storage, and yield. Try this easy growing method, and you may never go back to the old bury and dig method.

Potatoes will get scabby if planted in nitrogen-rich soil, this makes them a good choice for first year beds. Loosen the soil 6-8î. working in wood ashes, green sand and a small amount of cold compost.

Cut large seed potatoes in half lengthwise, and allow cut surfaces to dry. Do not use grocery store potatoes for seed. They may carry disease, and are often sprayed with an anti-sprouting chemical which would leave you wondering what went wrong.

Place seed potatoes on top of the ground, 18" apart. Plant the small potatoes whole and cover with 18" of mulch. if you don't have enough hay or straw, collect leaves with a rake and an old sheet and tarp. It will take awhile for the tips to grow through the tops of the mulch, but you will never have to weed or water them.

Control Colorado potato beetles and blister beetles by hand picking. If the pests appear, don't wait too long to pick them or else you will have a real problem. Remember to look under the leaves for the soft bodied larvae. Discourage tiny, black, hopping flea beetles with a homemade spray of crushed garlic, water and a drop of dish soap. Prevent various tuber diseases, like verticillum, which leaves a dark, mushy ring in the tuber, by annual crop rotation.

After the tops of the potatoes have died back, harvest your crop by hand, pushing the mulch aside. You bountiful harvest will be just below the surface of the ground, a real treasure hunt the kids will enjoy. Hand harvesting avoids tuber damage which can result from digging with a spade or fork.

Be sure to plant enough to get you through the winter. add lots of extra mulch in the fall, and you will harvest crisp potatoes from the garden all winter and into the spring.