Friday, March 25, 2011

2010 potato harvest

The second attempt at obtaining a massive potato yield through the use of potato towers was not as successful as the first. I did change more than one variable, so it's not highly valid as an experimental result,  and the weather was uniformly rotten.

The 2010 result was about nine pounds of All Blues

and ten pounds of German Butterballs.

The were of excellent size and quality, but the yield was really disappointing. Last year I got 29 pounds of Desiree Reds and 18 pounds of Yellow Finns from the boxes.

The blues are (were) really lovely and delicious:

Although I did attempt to keep the vines much more covered as they grew, in comparison to 2009, I don't think I did it well enough. Here's an interesting comment from a thread on this site about potato towers:
I'm both amazed and amused that nobody has taken the time to explain the facts. In the first place, the thread title is 100% correct. Potatoes do not grow along the stem. They grow at the ends of modified branches called stolons. Those grow only from a certain portion of the stem which is just above the roots. If allowed to grow without interference, all of the stolon buds will form in a tight little ring at the base of the stem. Immediately above that will begin the true stem. If that basal portion of the stem is allowed to elongate, stolon buds continue to be formed. 5 stolons equal 5 potatoes, 20 stolons equal 20 potatoes. It is that factor which makes tire planting so very effective. At the same time, it is why tire planting can be a total flop. As long as the stolon-producing portion of the stem is well underground, and the true stem has not formed, it is able to continue growing longer. If that portion stops growing, it doesn't matter if 10' of vine is covered as there will never be another stolon.
It sounds critically important to keep the young vines covered long enough for the stolon-producing portion to develop some length. I'm sure I did not do that effectively. That's what I'll focus on in 2011.