Spuds in leafy compost

Spud growing and problems with potatoes

'Green Thumb' gardener gives some tips on problematic potatoes

Since the 2015 Agassiz Fall Fair and Corn Festival celebrates the “Year of the Potato”, a refresher in growing the spud is in order. Potatoes are a fairly easy crop to grow providing the conditions are suitable for this tuber. Acidic friable soil, hilling when 6-8 inches tall, harvesting after blooming and regular watering should produce a healthy yield. Because the soil in the lower mainland tends to be acidic from our high rainfall levels, no lime should be added to the potato bed.

Some frequent problems with potatoes:

Holes in potatoes-there are several types of holes and corresponding causes. Narrow tunneling holes are caused by click beetle larvae, wireworms, which are yellowish-brown shiny hard worms. They are more prevalent in soil where grass had previously been grown. Growing potatoes in containers, raised beds with commercially produced soil or in a soil-less mix of leafy compost, straw, etc., prevents the wireworm invasion. At the present time the Agassiz Research Center has discovered an Agassiz strain of metarhizium, an insect fungal pathogen specific to click beetles and wireworms. When available this pathogen can be added to the soil and greatly reduce the occurrence of the infecting insect.  Small holes just beneath the skin are probably caused by the tuber flea beetle. I am not aware of a safe insecticide for either the flea beetle or the wireworm, however, cutting away the affected part still leaves food for the table. The longer the spuds are left in the ground the more damage will be done. Larger holes are probably caused by slugs. Ferrous phosphate pellets under the leaves or copper tape around the bed are very successful treatments. The pellets are safe for animals.

Hollow heart-spuds growing too quickly either from too much nitrogen or overwatering after a dry spell.

Green and bitter potatoes-exposure to light either while growing, during harvest or in storage causing toxic alkaloids that should be cut away before eating, but can be used for seed.

Knobby spuds-heavy irrigation or rain will cause the tuber to grow in a localized area, forming the knobs. The Russet variety is more susceptible.

Early vine die-down-could be caused by an early variety that has reached maturity or a blight which results in early browning of the leaves and vines. It should be treated with a spray of copper, lime and water as soon as it is noticed.

Heavy foliage and few spuds-too much nitrogen fertilizer or fresh manure application.

Questions and Answers.

Are the mums sold at grocery stores and garden centers hardy?

The chrysanthemums for sale now are grown to fall flower in greenhouses and are not conditioned for our rainy winters. Ideally they need a summer for vegetative and root establishment to survive the winter, so buying in the spring is recommended. They can be kept over in a greenhouse and planted in the spring for fall bloom. If that sounds like too much effort, enjoy them for the season and then say goodbye, as we do with summer annuals.

I always get powdery mildew on my petunias. How can I avoid this?

The mildew is a fungal infection, a disease that is spread by wind-born spores and is difficult to prevent and/or control. Conditions that favor the disease include dry foliage, high humidity, low light, poor air circulation and warm temperatures.  Several treatments have been tried over the years including home remedies. In my search for treatments for powdery mildew, it appears that the most effective home treatment is a spray of 1 part milk to 2 parts water on the new leaves and stems. Affected leaves should be removed before spraying. This should be done once a week and after it rains. Any type of milk will work, whole, 1%, canned or powdered because it is the lactoferrin in the milk that seems to be the active ingredient against the disease. I personally have not tried this remedy, but will next year. Some of the commercial fungicides leave a white residue unbecoming to a beautiful flower.

More questions and comments are appreciated. Please send to news@ahobserver.com

Just Posted

Trial dates set for three men accused of 2017 killing near Hope

Lawyers for the accused appeared in Kelowna at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday

Wildfire threatens weekend campers at Chehalis Lake

The fire started on the north side of Chehalis Lake Saturday

Abbotsford council OKs bus-to-SkyTrain plan

Fraser Valley Express would begin running to Lougheed Station by start of 2021

Chilliwack community group gathering to benefit youth health centre

Chilliwack Citizens for Change planning tailgate party for CHYC

PET CARE: Canada Day tips for our pet’s anxiety

Columnist Nicolette Joosting examines different ways to help your pets relax through the celebration

VIDEO: Reading splashes into Agassiz’s Ferny Coombe Pool

The Agassiz Library held its annual Reading in the Pool event Friday, June 14

Grey-haired bank robber hit with dye pack in Langley heist

Police are looking for an older man who may be stained with dye

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

New Lower Mainland bistro caters to board game fans and families

Local food and games at every table is the formula for the new business

Most Read