Preparing the soil for potatoes
When the next autumn comes, gardeners usually begin to prepare the beds for the next season, dig up the ground, bringing manure, fertilizing and improving its quality, they dig holes in order to plant trees, berry and ornamental shrubs Is it necessary to do all this? And if necessary, how?
Having dug up potatoes (I usually plant 10-15 kilograms elite tuberspurchased in the "House of the Gardener"), now I never dig up the soil, but sow the entire area with crops that can make it healthier. Which one to choose specifically, you decide for yourself, because you know best what your soil needs.
Now shops for gardeners have in their assortment many different crops, sowing which you can not only make your soil healthy, capable of producing good yields of vegetables, berries, and herbs every year. But the friendly shoots that appeared at the end of the season, for example, of winter rye, will also protect the soil during the rainy season from the leaching of nutrients and from corrosion, in this case playing the role of a ground cover crop ..
When spring comes, I am in no hurry to dig the site again. Before planting the potatoes, I only need to loosen the topsoil with a hand cultivator, which takes very little time. Then I dig a hole, put a tuber there and add a tablespoon of ash... Next to the tuber, I put 1-2 sprouted legumes. Ash is a good potash organic fertilizer, and beans will be a good nitrogen fertilization and at the same time will be able to protect your crop from moles, which, it happens, are ready to feast on this crop and spoil the appearance of the tuber ..
You ask, what about the weeds? After all, if you do not dig up the ground, then after planting potatoes, the entire array will quickly overgrow with weeds. Nothing like this. As soon as the potatoes begin to sprout and you see the first shoots, many weeds will sprout at the same time, but they will be so small and weak that if you pick up a rake and slightly loosen the soil between the rows, the weeds will die. You don't even have to remove them as they will be a useful addition to your soil. ...
Read the response to the article: On the use of green manure in growing potatoes →
S. Korolkova, experienced gardener
Benefits of Planting Winter Garlic
- Preparing a bed for garlic in the fall helps free up time for other plantings, which is very difficult to do in the spring due to the numerous work with other garden crops.
- Ardent garlic can destroy the cold, but winter garlic is not afraid of frost.
- Winter garlic is not picky about care, because it has enough moisture in the soil.
- The winter garlic variety is resistant to parasitic insects and is less susceptible to viruses.
- The material for planting winter garlic is larger than that of spring garlic.
- The harvest of this species is greater than that of the spring one.
- Harvesting winter garlic one month earlier than its counterpart.
In order for the garlic to survive the winter, it must be properly planted. To do this, you need to make small furrows in the garden bed, pour some river sand into the holes, and plant the cloves with the sharp part upwards at a distance of 15 cm from each. Then cover with earth and water. You can also lay the planting site with straw or sawdust. At the end, cover the beds with plastic.
Plot processing tricks
For a rich potato crop, tillage begins in the autumn months.
Remember that the root crop especially requires excellent drainage - its roots must breathe well!
In this case, the potatoes quickly form healthy tubers.
If the soil for potatoes in your garden accumulates melt water in the spring, the lowland should be "raised" and given a slightly convex shape.
So the flood will leave the site faster, and the soil will sooner warm up.
Advice. Along the edges of the potato ridges, additionally dig several grooves to drain moisture and bring them into a common deep channel.
Such an event is also worth doing if the garden has a high location of preferred waters. Otherwise, the soil will start to "sour".
You can understand that the earth is turning sour by the following signs:
- the soil is gradually compacted
- abundantly overgrown with moss, sorrel
- takes on a slightly bluish tint
- the consistency becomes similar to viscous clay
- begins to smell repulsive ("aroma" gives off sour).
How to grow potato soil? It will be cheaper to pour crushed sand into the ground.
But you should not fill it directly on future ridges (if the site does not consist entirely of clay).
You need to add sand under the beds:
- At the site of future potato plantings, discard the top layer of fertile soil with a shovel.
- Dig a trench 40-50 cm deep.
- Pour sand there, but not to the very top. Try to leave 35-37 cm to the required level of the future ridge.
- Transfer the previously dug fertile soil back.
Do not throw out bad acidified soil. Loosen it and leave it aside.
Over the course of a year, such soil is aerated and will lose acidity. Then it can be used for garden beds as well.
Advice. Soil cultivation for potatoes (if acidified) is carried out annually. After 3-4 years, the site will rise well and improve its fertile qualities several times.
Digging for the winter. An important procedure if the soil for potatoes is rough and waterlogged. Such a site must be carefully and deeply dug up.
But do not break up large clods - they will break up by themselves under the influence of oxygen and frosty air.
Spread the manure after digging. But be sure to sprinkle the cakes with soil or sand in a layer up to 5 cm.
This method will lure a lot of earthworms in the spring (you yourself pay attention to their abundant amount).
Worms are active generators of fertility, they will help turn any, even the most impoverished, area into a fertile one.
Attention! Fresh manure can only be used during pre-winter digging! It cannot be used in the spring, this leads to the development of fungal infections in plants..
Fertilizers. In the fall, you need to fertilize the land in advance. Use organic matter (8-10 kg / m²).
If the soil is poor, the dose can be increased to 15-17 kg. The effect will increase if potassium-phosphorus additives are added to organic matter (4-5 kg for each ton of manure).
Phosphorus-potassium additives can be added separately just before the very digging of the soil for potatoes
- superphosphate 20 g
- potassium sulfate 25 g.
Potassium will help loosen the soil in the garden and make it crumbly. But chlorine can negatively affect the quality of the soil - it should be applied only in the fall.
When the soil is perfect... If you are lucky with the site and the land on it is fertile and has a suitable pH, you can make gentle preparation in the fall.
Instead of deep digging, plant soil plants (siderates) on the site.
They will help protect soil mineral additives from spring washout.
In the spring, the siderates are dug up. Use sweet clover, peas, alfalfa, lupine, vetch.
When the soil thaws in early spring and dries up, the soil for the potatoes must be well loosened 10-12 cm deep.
This procedure will conserve moisture and accelerate the germination of weeds (it will be easier to destroy them during subsequent loosening).
The nuances of spring preparation of the garden depend on the quality of the land:
Sandy and sandy loam soil... In dry weather, such areas should be loosened to a depth of 10-15 cm without overturning the upper layer.
Loamy, soddy lands... They need to be processed twice:
- As soon as the soil dries up. You need to loosen it 15 cm deep.
- Just before planting potatoes. The soil is dug up to 30 cm.
When loosening in the spring months, you should remove all the remnants of rhizomes, weeds, do not forget about the parasitic larvae of pests.
Then fertilizers are applied to the soil and leveled with a rake.
Advice. If the winter is snowy and harsh, run drainage grooves from the beds. But if winter and early spring are dry, deep digging is not required. In this case, the soil is slightly loosened with a rake.
Deep loosening is done in the following way: the forks are inserted deeply into the soil and tilted towards themselves, while planting the forks deeper into the ground.
Then the handle of the tool is pressed forward, moving the top layer of the earth away from you.
Then the top layer of soil is loosened 15-20 cm deep.
At the same time, compost, ash, mineral fertilizers and organic matter (wet manure or humus) are introduced into the soil under the potatoes.
Finally, the site is leveled with a rake.
What should be done in the summer to prepare virgin soil for a vegetable garden?
A question from our reader:
They took a dacha, and there is a complete virgin land. How to effectively tidy up a summer cottage for growing vegetables?
I have just such an experiment this year. Yesterday I specially went and photographed everything. But first, I'll tell you.
I wanted to understand whether it is worth growing potatoes under straw in my particular place, before forming special beds, fencing them, creating a cushion of garden debris.
Therefore, the experimental field was chosen very rigidly. This is a virgin land behind a fence. Our backyard, so to speak. There is everlasting virgin soil, no one has ever plowed it or ennobled it.
We cut the grass that had grown by the day the experiment began. Although, it was possible not to do this, but then it would be less convenient for us to work.
So, the grass was cut, but not harvested, it remained where it grew. Prepared potatoes were laid in rows. It was taken out of the cellar around the beginning of April, it lay in boxes no more than 2 layers, and the boxes themselves stood in the entryway in the sun. The eyes hatched, turned dark green, the potatoes also turned green.
For comparison, we also took potatoes from the cellar. They also laid it in rows. And all this was covered with straw with a layer of about 20 centimeters.
All the work was done around the end of May. Yesterday July 8th, I shoveled the straw to look for land.
The top layer of thatch was absolutely dry, even though it had rained for almost a week before, heavy showers!
The lowest layer was wet, sticky, darkened. And there was no grass underneath. There was black ground. It is loose, I just wiggled it with my fingers. The roots of the grass that grew here before, I have not found.
I cannot guarantee that they all died in a month and a half. But the grass that did not break through the layer of straw died. By the end of the growing season, even from the roots, nothing will remain.
Something still turned out to be stronger than such a powerful mulch. But these are particularly nasty weeds. So they turned out to be few, those who could substitute their heads to the sun. In the spring, they can already be dug out of the ground without much difficulty.
Therefore, my experiment on growing potatoes under straw turned out to be at the same time a test of the possibility of preparing virgin soil for garden work without unnecessary hassle.
Although here it is necessary to talk about the specific capabilities of the gardener. If there is any livestock farm nearby, then buy two or three bales of straw, and they usually weigh 5 quintals, they will be enough to cover a fairly large area. Just what is needed for vegetable beds.
But how much less money and labor costs. And the straw will also turn into fertilizer, there will be no need to urgently sow green manure.
That's about the same grass that grew on the site. There was also wheatgrass.
I have not had the opportunity to photograph only the mown area, but what is in the photo is very similar to the plot when the potatoes were laid.
It can be seen that the potatoes are growing, that there is almost no grass, only bindweed. So he is not afraid of plowing.
But this is the very thing that remained of the virgin lands after lying under the straw for 1.5 months. Black earth. Clean, soft, loose and not destroyed by repeated plowing. It is a pleasure to work on such a flat cutter. It was I who wiggled the land with my fingers.
Planting depth of potatoes. At what depth to plant
The planting depth of potatoes is classified into shallow, medium, deep. With shallow planting, seeds are buried to a depth of 5-6 cm. Usually this method is used on loamy soils. Loamy sands and peats allow deeper planting - up to 10 cm. Potatoes are also planted to a depth of more than 10 cm, this type is accordingly called deep. It is important that the planting depth is the same throughout the entire area. To achieve this goal, they use specialized equipment.
Planting depth depends not only on the type of soil, but also on the size of the seed. If the tubers are small, then they can be embedded shallowly. For a seed weighing 50-80 g, the best embedding depth is 8-9 cm, or when planting in ridges - 10-12 cm.For finer material with a flat surface, embedding is carried out to a depth of 6-7 cm, and in ridges - 8-9 cm.
As you know, the Dutch are famous for their unique methods of growing vegetables and various crops. In Holland, potatoes are planted so that the top of the tuber is at ground level, over which a ridge is formed. If you plant even smaller, potatoes from the new crop can be greened.
Formed plants are best placed in the ground when planted deeply. In this case, there is no need to huddle the bushes. But on the other hand, it will be difficult to harvest. Therefore, this type is recommended for use on sandy loam soil, in arid areas.
There is also an interesting technique in which the seed is laid out on top of slightly loosened soil and covered with 10-12 cm of mulch. Mulch is peat, compost, a mixture of humus with straw or rotted sawdust with sand, to which mineral fertilizers rich in trace elements necessary for potato growth are added. It is recommended to use this method in heavy soil, such as clay. To prevent gardening of tubers, you need to add more mulch when the plants reach a height of 20-25 cm.
The main advantage of this method is the free development of the root system. Mulch perfectly retains moisture and air, contains nutrients. In hot weather, the plants will be cool under the mulch; when the air temperature drops, on the contrary, it will be warm. This will ensure drainage around the roots and suppress weed growth. Loosening of the soil will be provided by earthworms, which, by cultivating the soil, will process organic elements into humus. To combat the Colorado potato beetle, wireworm or other parasites and diseases, green needles are added to the mulch. Thus, using this method, you can get 50% more yield.
The tubers are almost on the surface, so it is quite easy to harvest the potatoes. No effort is needed, as the tubers usually rise with the tops. There is no need to prepare a new mulch every year. The combs of organic matter hibernate in the garden, they are pushed apart, the seed is laid and filled back. It is permissible not to make continuous rollers, but to cover the tubers with separate mounds. In this case, it is recommended to plant plants at a distance of up to 40 cm for better development of the tops.
Siderata are special plants that are grown for the purpose of digging them further. So you can not only improve the structure and enrich the soil with useful substances, but also significantly worsen the growth and development of weeds.
Not all green manures are the same useful for the further cultivation of potatoes. So, lupine simply does not have time to ascend to the end, and even more so - to give the optimal amount of green mass, because it does not like a drop in temperature.
Mustard is a great option. 3-4 days pass from planting to the appearance of the first shoots.With daily watering. In 3 weeks, she will not only gain weight, but will also delight gardeners with her delicate yellow flowers. Further actions are carried out at the discretion of the owners. Some dig up mustard before winter, others wait for spring.
In addition to mustard, you can plant rapeseed and rye, rape and phacelia in the fall. True, all of them are less valuable in terms of nitrogen content.
Siderata protect the soil from inevitable dehydration or weathering. Left before winter, they will prevent deep freezing of the soil, hold back the snow.
Potatoes require loose soil. To ensure it, it is necessary, especially in gardens with heavier soils (loams, clay soils), to complete deep digging or plowing of the ridges allocated for potatoes in mid-autumn - by the end of October. With the onset of frost, the ground will become looser. Digging should be done very carefully to get a leveled surface of the ridges. This creates the most important prerequisite for preparing a good tuber bed.
When cultivating the soil in February - March, large voids are formed in clay soils and loams, due to which the soil dries quickly and often creates a moisture deficit. If, in such a situation, insufficient moisture is not replenished due to precipitation, there is a need for additional irrigation to ensure high yields of potatoes.
The main purpose of preparing the soil to create a good seedbed is to provide sufficient looseness, which must be maintained until harvest. This is the only way to achieve normal conditions for the development of potato plants. The looseness of the soil improves with the vigorous activity of the soil microflora, which must be constantly preserved in the personal plot. With the help of organic fertilizers (manure, plant residues) and the introduction of the main phosphate-potassium fertilizer during its incorporation into the soil, the activity of microorganisms is maintained at the required level during the fall and the subsequent growing season. Snow cannot be plowed in or buried together with fertilizers, it negatively affects the microflora of the soil.
Under the influence of frost, the earth cracks, which also contributes to an increase in its friability. The main prerequisite for this is deep digging or plowing of the garden in the fall.
During the growing season, soil looseness is ensured through targeted preparation of the seedbed and care of potato plantings. When processing too wet soil in the spring or repeatedly before planting tubers, the looseness of the soil decreases, so all treatments should be carried out only in the required amount. On a fairly dry area set aside for early potatoes, the necessary mineral fertilizers are evenly scattered. If a variety of fertilizers are applied under the potatoes, which could not be pre-mixed, it is recommended that after the introduction of one type of fertilizer (or a mixture of them), light embedding is carried out using an iron rake. Only then can the rest of the fertilizer be applied, otherwise there is a risk of loss of nutrients.
For shallow loosening of the garden soil, use a hand cultivator or hoe and then level the soil with a rake. In this case, it is impossible to trample the already loosened soil.
If the garden plot is plowed up in the fall and the soil becomes sufficiently loose under the influence of winter frosts, then one limited treatment is enough to prepare the seed bed for early potatoes, that is, leveling the scattered mineral fertilizers with a rake, in which they are simultaneously embedded in the soil. Before planting tubers in a leveled area, the ridges are marked with a furrow maker or a planting cord. The marking can be as flat as possible, it is important that the rows are visible when the seed tubers are laid out.
Partly still practiced cutting deep furrows for potatoes is associated with high labor costs. When growing early potatoes, this process can be eliminated without prejudice to the future harvest.
The marking of holes in a row is also carried out using a furrow maker. It is set at the prescribed distance, for example, 30 cm, and is led across the rows with an interval of about 20 cm. Holes are made at the joints of the marking lines. If there is no furrower, you can use a simple branch of a fruit tree or a wooden lath of the required length and use them to mark the holes.
Based on the book Heinz A. - Growing early potatoes.