Order 2016 Almanac Now - Get 3 FREE Gifts
I live in Louisville KY andI live in Louisville KY and have started planting a lot of (mostly large - like half-barrel ) containers. Had tomatoes for several years and these did well. This year I expanded. I had a bunch of russet taters that sprouted in the pantry so I decided for giggles to plant them in a half-barrel in May, in potting mix and compost in a 5" deep layer at the bottom. Drain holes are 1.5" above bottom, to retain water through our hot summer days. As they grew I added peat moss and some commercial bagged compost until the barrel is full. Summer this year has been milder than most - only two days so far above 90F (32C); mostly in the 80's (27-32C). I've got a nice crop of spindly 3'+ vines, but from what I am reading here, I may not have (m)any tubers due to the temperature of the soil, which I have not measured yet. I haven't seen any (or maybe just a very few) flowers. I have kept the soil nice and damp through the whole season. So I have a few questions: 1) what is the ideal and what is the limiting soil temperature range(s) for common barieties of potato (russet, white/Idaho, red-skin, yukon gold, etc as seen in my local chain grocery store)? Are there any varieties that are higher-temperature tolerant and easy to grow? 2) if I don't have (m)any spuds soon, can I just leave what I do have in the pot to start itself over whenever they choose? 3) since these were grocery-store potatoes which may harbor untold diseases, I gather that at the very least I should not plant potatoes (or any Solanaceae crops) for at least 4 years in this pot. What kind of diseases are we talking about - what are the symptoms so I can decide if I do (and where can I read up on potato diseases)? 2) If I have some of these diseases, it begs the question of what the commercial growers do, since they are monocultural operations with less opportunity for rotation? Hefty chemicals? 3) If potato diseases are so rampant, how does anyone produce disease-free seed-stock tubers of a true variety? 4) And finally, a story with a question: My dad grew up in Hartford Connecticut during the Great Depression. Sometime (I never asked when) they would lay down a 6" layer of compost on the driveway, plant potatoes, and add dead leaves as the vines grew to keep the tubers covered. The pile may have gotten to 2' or higher. Winter came, snow covered the pile, and for dinner his mom would send him out to stick his hands into the (unfrozen, apparently due to the insulation of leaves and snow) pile and fish out enough potatoes for the family. Has anyone else ever heard of this? When do you suppose they planted? What variety(ies) might they have used? For reference, the first frost was usually the 3rd week of September, and hard freezes came by late October. Winter lows were as cold as 0F in January-February, but mostly 15F and above until then.

2015 Special Edition Garden GuideCooking Fresh with The Old Farmer's AlmanacThe Almanac Monthly Digital MagazineWhat the heck is a Garden Hod?