Last week’s post about 3 generations of the same family planting taters together turned up some great comments and a question or two from Jim Casada.
Jim’s comment: Tipper–I’ve had my spuds in the ground for two or three weeks, but they didn’t go in soil that looked anywhere near as rich and loose as that of the photo. I do have a two questions about the photo. First, what’s the white looking stuff between the cut-up seed potatoes. Second, I’ve always planted the potatoes with the cut side (white) down, mostly because that’s the way Grandpa Joe and Daddy did it but also because that way you have the eye or eyes pointed towards the surface once the row has been covered. Just curious.
The white stuff is fertilizer. As you can see from the photo above, the family in Graham County puts fertilizer on both sides of the potato, but not on or under it. Of course a few pieces fall in around the potato, anyone who has ever used fertilizer understands it jumps around as you add it in.
We didn’t plant any potatoes this year, but in the past Pap sometimes added fertilizer to the row as he planted potatoes and sometimes he didn’t add any. If he did use fertilizer, he took a hoe and drug it along the row before dropping the taters in to make sure the fertilizer was mixed into the soil. Pap said dragging the hoe through and working the fertilizer into the dirt prevented it from burning up the taters. I’m sure the Graham County family had the same thing in mind when they dressed each side of the tater with fertilizer.
Another commenter Trevis Hicks had this to say about fertilizing potatoes: Love this Tipper! My family has always planted our taters on Good Friday and dug em on Labor Day. In the past few years, I had been having some beautiful plants but no taters on them when we dug them. I was talking to my Dad this weekend and he told me that I needed to not put fertilizer in the row as I planted them. He said that I needed to only fertilize on the ground on top of them after having covered them. He said that putting it in the row as we planted was too much for them to handle but would make the plants beautiful. So this year, I am gonna try that and see if that yields better result. Love this tradition! It was always so nice to be in the garden with Dad on the tractor and then mom and I walking behind it planting and covering the row.
Now on to the other part of Jim’s question, does it matter how you drop the taters into the row?
I didn’t think we ever placed the potato a certain way but I called Pap to be sure. He said “No it don’t matter how you throw them in the eye will find it’s way to top just fine.” But I kinda see the reasoning behind Jim’s Grandpa Jo’s method. Our potatoes never produce that great so I’d be all for giving them every bit of help I could.
This great comment came from Jackie: If it doesn’t rain too much on Thursday and Friday our church will plant this Saturday. Ages usually range from about 5 to near 90. We plant about 1/2 acre for the local food ministry and just before harvest plant another 1/2 acre of sweet potatoes.
Now that sounds like a great way to plant taters!
Sanford McKinney sent me this comment: Tipper, We always put the fertilizer right in with the seed potatoes. My Dad always laid off the rows with two horses and a hillside (reversible) plow. This made the furrows pretty deep which took the potatoes longer to break the top of the ground. This helped save them from getting frozen by a late freeze. Also, when the plants burst out of the ground and we did our first hoeing, Dad would take the hillside plow and turn the soil right back over the top of the potato plant. This was also to keep the plant from being frozen by a late freeze. When they burst out of the ground the second time, they were the prettiest dark green and looked so healthy. Thought you might enjoy that little tidbit of information from over on the Tennessee side of the mountain.
Pap always ridges or hills his potatoes when they break through the ground much like what Sanford described. Of course we use a tiller and a hoe to do the chore instead of a horse. One of The Deer Hunter’s friends made a potato ridger out of a hillside turner.
If all this information isn’t enough tater talk for you check out these posts from the past: