Potato Lessons From 2019

How many potatoes are enough for the year? I never know as last year we had more left overs than I’d like. I think in part because the potatoes were small. Yet that really is no excuse, I could have better used my resources. I’m not kicking myself as this waste is a lesson learned and a spur to try harder which is always a good thing. I’ve got plans to keep a better coordination between supply and usage but that’s after I finish revamping my financial budget forms for the fourth time.

This year despite getting a late start, our cold weather held off long enough and we had a really good crop. More large potatoes than ever before and a big crop too despite growing them differently, maybe because of that.


One day I’ll:

  • Count the number of seed potatoes I put in.
  • Count how many create plants.
  • Measure the poundage I get.
  • Figure how much I use in a year.

But I’m not sure that is next year. Ideas have to stand in line so for now, I’ll dream of the day.

For this moment, I’ll savor the successes and ponder the lessons learned from this season. This year’s potato experiment meant one section of potatoes were grown the traditional way and the other on top the existing soil. Neither were rototilled. One area had received an early helping of manure and all winter off and on I’d been dumping goat stall and chicken coop bedding on it making it loose so I just dug a little hole and plopped in seed potatoes.


This is where I put the, ‘I don’t know what these are’ potatoes that I mentioned in an earlier post. The ones I got from the feed store and grocery store they advertised for the garden but had no label. One kind was red and the other purple. I wanted to give them what I figured was the greatest advantage.


Many of the potatoes suffered from a virus. The ones I had not thrown the excess goat milk on. You heard me. I threw milk on them. We have an excess of milk simply because I can’t seem to manage to use it all with time constraints. I figured a little calcium would do them good.

IMG_9054.JPGOther potatoes which had received the spray had a mild case, or none at all, and they were right next to potatoes that were badly effected.  Later I learned that milk inhibits the virus that causes wilting in potatoes.  I was puzzled why part of the patch was slight, another untouched, and some nearly destroyed until I thought about what I’d done differently. Sometimes I act so smart and I have no idea why. Was this another inspiration? I’ll give the Lord the credit because it probably was. I’m not that brilliant. Like before, I was investigating milk as a calcium source for the garden.

Now my mind is wondering if this virus is related to the one in beans? Worth looking up and experimenting with. It is a problem I sometimes have. No matter what, a watered down milk spray isn’t likely to hurt them.

I also learned when my tomatoes in the house got aphids that you should use a milk and water mixture to spray on the leaves top and bottom. The aphids can’t digest the proteins in milk. I’ve waited a month to give you the news to be sure it is really true. The aphids aren’t completely gone but minimal and now residing on the none sprayed mint. They just got a healthy spray too. I could see where the heavy cream in our milk partly clogged the leaves breathing pores so I watered down the second dose even more. If you want to try milk, experiment to see what is your best mix as your milk and mine will differ. This last time I used a 1 to 4 ratio of milk to water.

This solution thrilled me as I’ve pressure sprayed the plants with water, used natural insecticides, and even resorted to chemical sprays but alas, I had to destroy my plants twice in my kitchen garden.

I’ve heard and read this year from many sources that aphids come when there is too much nitrogen. Sure enough, my mini tomato plants are too tall and stocks are thin. They’ve lacked my attention.

But wait, we were talking about potatoes not tomatoes. The purple potatoes did poorly but the red ones were impressive. I’ll save some red potatoes to plant again next summer, if they store well.

The bulk of my King George potatoes, I planted on the existing mowed prairie soil. I did not rototilled. I piled old manure, some goat bedding which is of coarse sawdust and tucked in my potatoes. The worms went crazy over it, breaking it down, and left their poo for the plants. Despite the virus, King George did really, really well.

  • I’m sold on the no-till to grow potato concept. I had more large potatoes by far than ever before and a bumper harvest despite the virus.
  • I’m sold on using watered down milk on potatoes and tomatoes; and next year, I will try it with my beans too. I know my soil lacks calcium because it is sand so it is a win, win situation.

Who would of thought excess milk was a virus protector, an aphid deterrent, and a soil builder all wrapped into one?

Yes indeed, waste not want not. So what milk we don’t use, I give to the chickens to build calcium levels in them, and beyond that the garden. I’ve bought a small sprayer for the job next year.

The moral of the story is:

you don’t have to till,

use what you have,

and don’t throw away your milk.



5 thoughts on “Potato Lessons From 2019

    1. I can not imagine such a huge growing season. I imagine it would mean a much smaller garden since you continue to grow something almost all the time. Do you do much food preservation like canning since you get two crops? I would never survive there since I can not tolerate heat. Not even a little bit. That is why you are there and I am here. I would think you have lots of bugs and disease in your garden because of the weather. We have very little.


  1. Darla

    I grow a spring & a fall crop. We usually start pull up the spring garden in August & start the fall garden in September,

    I do some canning. I can a lot of peach cobbler filling. We can tomatoes, okra, & peppers. We don’t make a lot of jams/jellies (because we don’t eat a lot of it)

    I am thinking of getting a freeze-dryer with my tax return, I have been very interested in one I think that we would use it.

    If we have a cold winter (a week or two in the 40’s) we don’t get as many bugs. Last year was good (no grasshoppers). We already had 1 day in the 40’s last week. It usually gets cold in Jan-Feb.


    1. I’ve questioned the freeze dryer also. I want to can far less and dry far more to save space and especially time. Let me know what you think if you purchase it. The cost as you know isn’t cheap. I want to look into building a solar dryer too. It might be a bit more tricky using it here.


  2. Planning helps, but even that is complicated by good years and bad years. We typically plant two zucchini plants for summer because they make more than enough. (Except for pickling some that I let get big at the end of the season [about now], I do no can, freeze or otherwise store zucchini.) On more than one occasion, two plants did not produce much. At least one year, we planted less tomato plants than we normally do, but got a ridiculous volume of tomatoes. ‘Roma’ can overproduce if the conditions are right for it to do so.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s