How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Certified seed pieces

Use seed pieces that are certified to be free of pests and diseases, and not of a named cultivar. Do not use grocery store potatoes. Use tubers that are cut into 1.5- to 2-ounce pieces; make sure each piece has an "eye" in it. Store the freshly cut pieces at room temperature for 1 to 3 days, which cures the cut areas and makes them less susceptible to decay.

Planting potatoes

Potatoes can be planted from seed. However, the resulting tubers take longer to produce and have more variation at harvest than do potatoes that are planted from seed potatoes. If planting from seed, plant on raised beds made by adding large amounts of sifted compost or other soil amendments so that a bed is established above the previous level of soil. Seed can also be started indoors in flats, peat pots, or other small containers 8 weeks before the last frost date. After the danger of frost has passed, transplant into the garden. Seed potatoes can also be planted in mulch piles or in cages. Plant seed pieces the same as above. Loosely shake mulch over the bed until it is 6 to 10 inches deep. As the plants grow, continue to add more loose straw. Keep tubers covered at all times. To plant in cages or bins or cribs, again plant the same way, covering the plants with 4 inches of soil. After the plant emerges, continue to add well-aged compost, mulch, or soil. Because the cage is above ground, potatoes dry out quickly, so this method will require more frequent irrigation.

When transplanting potatoes, place the seed pieces or whole small seed potatoes into 3-inch deep furrows, spaced 6 to 12 inches apart. The closer the spacing the smaller the harvested potatoes will be. Fill the furrows to ground level with soil. Leave them until the shoots emerge from the soil. Once the shoots are about 8 inches long, gently hill them over with more soil. Leave about 4 inches of the top of the plant exposed. Repeat this operation once again in about 2 to 3 weeks and then once more in another 2 weeks. Avoid damaging the plant.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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