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Why haven't my potato plants flowered yet?

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Question from liz hankins

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I am growing potatoes for the first time and planted them into 2 piles of recycled tyres in May. They are slightly under some trees but get full sun from about 3pm to evening. They are now extremely high and leggy, leaning out of the tyre pile (which is 4 tyres high now) presumably searching for sun? I am reluctant to add any more compost as its costing a fortune (I stopped at tyre 3). ! Should I be worried? No flowers and I keep checking to make sure no potatoes appear above the soil as I have read these are poisonous...

  • Views: 16585
  • Replies: 10
  • Posted: Sun. 2nd August 2009 18:36

Potatoes

Reply from Georgie

Hi Liz

Are your potatoes first earlies, second earlies or main crop? And have you tried having a little 'furkle' in the compost to see if any of the tubers are ready to harvest?

Georgie

  • Posted: Sun. 2nd August 2009 20:25

Why haven't my potatoes flowered yet?

Reply from liz hankins

Hi Georgie
I am ashamed to say I don't know! Total novice with growing veg and I sent for the potatoes from a newspaper offer-and from memory they didn't arrive until late April or early May so does that make them 2nd earlies or main crop- how do you know?!!
No I haven't looked in the soil- perhaps I should- the foliage is riddled with holes now where slugs(I presume) must be munching- I did keep constant watch over them for the first 6wks or so but have not done so for the past month.
I can't believe how tall they are growing!

  • Posted: Mon. 3rd August 2009 12:34

I'm a novice too

Reply from Georgie

Hi again Liz

I grew Potatoes for the first time this year so I'm cetainly no expert. But as I understand it, the terms first earlies, second earlies and maincrop refer to when the potoatoes are harvested, not when they are planted. And as far as I know, the only way you can know which type you have is according to the variety of seed Potato you purchased.

I have also learned that some of the first earlies (and possibly the seconds?) are bred not to flower, so flowers are not always a good indication that the Potatoes are ready to harvest. On other sites I visit the 'seasoned' growers tend to rely on how long the plant has been in the ground (according to variety), foliage dying down and lifting one plant carefully to see if the tubers are ready/or feeling around in the compost.

I hope this helps.

Georgie

  • Posted: Mon. 3rd August 2009 17:26

no crop

Reply from liz hankins

Hi Georgie
I've had a furkie now and eventually found 4 small new potatoes right at the bottom- none in the earth higher up (4 tyres high!)...That's not much of a crop from 5 plants! But it did feel as if there were possibly more the size of large peas in the earth at the base..I will have to dismantle the tyre piles to see properly.

I sent for Vivaldi but Vales Emerald were substituted and yes- I have found the substitution note says they are 'first earlies' although they only arrived 7 May from Thompson & Morgan.

Does that mean that's all I'll get now or can I feed them something to boost growth?

Many thanks
Liz

  • Posted: Wed. 5th August 2009 13:52

There's still hope

Reply from Georgie

Hi Liz

My guess is that if you have pea-sized tubers there is still hope but I have to admit it's not looking too good. If the compost is over 6-8 weeks old all the nutrients will have been used up so a feed might be a good idea. I have no idea what to suggest, though, so hopefully someone else with more experience will be able to help.

Georgie

  • Posted: Fri. 7th August 2009 21:01

Same boat

Reply from Gill Black

Hello,
I'm in the same position - first time grower, the spuds are in bags in the back yard. They've grown really well, almost as tall as me, but I'm worried that they've not flowered. Do you think that digging around them to investigate is the way forward? I'm keen to start eating them but as they've not flowered I don't want to disturb...

  • Posted: Sat. 15th August 2009 11:56

Potatoes

Reply from Georgie

Hi Gill

I can only suggest you follow the advice I posted earlier. If you carefully tip the bags out and they are not ready you can always put them back and wait a bit longer.

Georgie

  • Posted: Sat. 15th August 2009 20:44

potatoes in tyres are very demanding

Reply from Adam Rubinstein

Hi Liz,
When in the ground, potatoes send out a wide network of fine roots to gather nutrients and water. They can't do this in tyres so you have to make up for it by giving them a really rich growing medium and lots of water.
In tyres they will drain very quickly so they would need regular, generous watering if it hasn't rained or if they're too sheltered (by trees).
My guess is that they also don't have enough sun. Being in the shade until 3.00 pm won't be helping them at all. Earlies need to grow quickly so they want lots of sun and rich compost.
Also it sounds like they went in a bit late.
I have also tried growing in tyres with limited success.
My best ever crop of potatoes was from an old potato left in my compost heap, I got 2 carrier bags full. Real compost (rather than the stuff that comes in bags) is really rich and that is ideal for potatoes in tyres, the stuff you buy in bags is really just a growing medium and doesn't have very much nutrient.
I wouldn't hold my hopes too high for potatoes dug up and then re-planted in the hope of them getting bigger. They have a fine network of roots which are likely to be damaged.
I am planning on trying tyres again next year.

  • Posted: Wed. 9th September 2009 22:43

Potatoes on tyres

Reply from liz hankins

Hi Adam thanks for all that info- I agree they went in a bit late but they were sent to me late and are 2nd earlies so I just assumed T& M knew best!
I have now harvested the potaoes from one tyre and had about 12small ones - I have yet to uproot the other as was giving it more time but the leaves have all died now, so I intend to have a rummage very soon.
Next year I might try courgettes in tyres and move them into full sun. I did plant them into real compost at the base on bare earth but higher up they were in compost from bags and yes- I did water every day as had read they need a lot. All in all I decided it was just not cost effective with the amount of compost I bought and time it took to put the tyres together and fill (I lined them with bin liners incase of chemicals).Hey ho!

  • Posted: Thu. 10th September 2009 15:09

Re: Why haven't my potato plants flowered yet?

Reply from Mark-Anthony Rector

Hi, I wouldn't worry to much about them blooming, I've planted a veggie garden the last two years, and honestly mine never bloomed either. But on the other side, we had some of the best potatoes ever, I love those little one the most, and I separate them to use first in fact. Little newbies, and then when they are cooked, some cream, real butter, and some freshly ground Pepper, oh my!

  • Posted: Fri. 26th August 2011 15:43