Tips for Using Polyethylene Mulching in Your Potato Garden

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Welcome to my blog about home gardening in Japan, where I share my experiences and tips on growing vegetables. In this post, I’d like to talk about a method that I’ve been using to grow potatoes in cold regions of Japan, specifically in the Tohoku and Hokkaido areas. By covering the potato beds with plastic sheeting, also known as mulching, I’ve found that it helps to improve soil temperature, moisture retention, and weed control. In this post, I’ll go over some important considerations and benefits of using this method for your own potato beds. Let’s get started!

I checked on the potatoes that I planted on 18/March on 26/March and 29/March.

I was relieved to see that the sprouts were healthy despite the potatoes being so soft and wrinkled when I planted them.

Mulching potatoes

For the first time, I decided to try mulching after planting the seed potatoes by researching the best way to plant them.

I used a type of mulch without holes for cultivation.

Potato cultivation with mulching

This was my first attempt at growing potatoes, so I did some research on planting methods and decided to try using mulch after planting the seed potatoes. I used a non-perforated type of mulch for this cultivation.

Notes on growing potatoes with mulch

With this method, it is important to take the sprouts that emerge as soon as possible and expose them to the outside. Otherwise, there is a risk that the sprouts may come into contact with the hot mulch and become damaged. It is therefore necessary to check on the plants frequently after planting.

As someone who rents a farm a little far from home, I was not very confident in being able to check on the plants frequently. However, I chose this method because of the benefits of using mulch.

“Benefits of growing potatoes with mulch”

There are several benefits to using mulch when growing potatoes:

Weed control:

One of the advantages of using mulch is that it helps prevent weed growth. If the potato sprouts are properly exposed, there will be less need to weed, which can save time and effort, especially for those who rent farmland far from home.

Growth support:

Another benefit of using mulch is that it helps warm the soil, which can improve sprouting and growth. This is particularly important for those who live in colder climates and want to maximize their potato harvest.

Elimination of hilling:

Potatoes turn green when exposed to sunlight.

The substance responsible for this green color is called solanine, which even in small amounts can cause headaches and other adverse effects. Excessive consumption can even be life-threatening.

To prevent this discoloration, potatoes must be shielded from sunlight. However, as the potatoes grow, they start to become exposed to the surface, and thus it becomes necessary to cover them with soil repeatedly as they grow.

This is where mulching comes into play.

By covering only the areas where the potato sprouts have emerged, the rest of the potato is kept shielded from sunlight by the mulch. This way, the need for the traditional hilling method is eliminated, resulting in a more streamlined and efficient cultivation process.

The Number of Days from Planting Potatoes to Sprouting

Potatoes typically take one to three weeks to sprout after planting the seed potatoes, depending on the variety.

My uncle, who lives in the mountains of Tokyo and has a home garden, planted Kitaaakari potatoes without using mulch and it took about three weeks for the sprouts to emerge. (Since we both started home gardening, we often exchange messages reporting on our agricultural work through LINE.)

In our cold climate, mulched Kitaaakari potatoes sprouted in about 10 days.

Although there are various factors that can affect sprouting time, the difference in this case is quite interesting.

The future tasks ahead include:

  • Removing sprouts(leave three sprouts)
  • Earthing up (if necessary)
  • Observing the growth and adding fertilizer as needed

We’ll all work together as a family to prepare for the exciting potato harvest in June, where we’ll have an unlimited supply of delicious potatoes.


にほんブログ村 花・園芸ブログ 野菜のみ(家庭菜園)へ