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How to Grow Organic Potatoes, Part 2

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Pests and Diseases

Common pests and diseases for potatoes include:

  • Colorado Potato Beetle: handpick beetles, larvae, and eggs from plants
  • Flea beetles: keep the area weed-free so you don't provide cover for flea beetles, spray with insecticidal soap
  • Leafhoppers: blast with water from the hose
  • Aphids: blast with water from the hose
  • Scab: crop rotation, plant resistant varieties ('Norland' 'Chieftain,' 'Russet Burbank')
  • Late Blight: crop rotation, clean up previous season's foliage and tubers, plant resistant varieties ('Sebago,' 'Elba,' 'Allegheny')

If you have the pests mentioned above in your garden, it's advisable to cover your potato patch with a floating row cover to avoid problems.

Harvesting

New potatoes can be dug any time during the season, as soon as you see blooms on the plants. If you are growing potatoes to store, you'll want to let the foliage turn brown. Cut it back, then leave the potatoes in the ground for a few more weeks, being sure to harvest before you get a hard frost.

The best way to harvest potatoes is to use a digging fork, and start at the outer edge of the hill or trench. Try to get the fork as deep into the soil as possible, and lift to harvest the potatoes.

You can save seed potatoes from your garden from year to year. Simply save healthy tubers in a cool, dry spot. The good thing about this is that, over time, you end up with a strain of potatoes that is particularly suited to conditions in your garden.

To store potatoes, keep them in a cold but not freezing, dark spot with some humidity. Don't wash them before storing, but let them sit out for a few days after harvesting so that any soil clinging to the tubers dries thoroughly.

One plant will typically yield between two and ten pounds of potatoes.

Varieties

Early Season (65 days until harvest):

  • Russet Norkotah
  • Red Norland
  • Yukon Gold
  • Adirondack Red
  • Adirondack Blue
  • Caribe
  • Early Rose

Midseason (80 days until harvest):

  • Kennebec
  • Idaho Russet
  • All Blue
  • Purple Viking
  • Austrian Crescent
  • Red Gold
  • Rose Finn Apple
  • French Fingerling
  • Yellow Finn

Late Season (90+ days until harvest):

  • German Butterball
  • Cowhorn
  • Carola
  • Sebago
  • Purple Peruvian
  • Katahdin
  • Elba
  • Green Mountain
  • Red Thumb

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