How to care for soil after potatoes
Potato for everyone who grows it on their own has always occupied and will occupy a dominant place in the calendar of agricultural work. Both planting and digging potatoes for many gardeners have become a kind of ritual and celebration. But with the end of one potato cycle, the next begins. And after you have harvested the long-awaited crop and calculated the results of the season, do not forget about preparing for next year. And first of all - about the soil, which potato depletes more than other root crops. In order not to lose the fertility of the soil and get a good harvest of completely different crops next year, it is better not to postpone soil care.
Correct crop rotation
Many potatoes are grown on the same site for many years in a row, but ideally the soil should rest for 2-3 years. In an extreme case, potatoes are not planted in one place more than 3 times in a row, restoring the soil after digging with the help of green manure.
Soil care after potatoes can be different:
- Traditional - with fertilizers by chemical means and digging.
- Organic - with sowing of green manure.
After potatoes in the current season, it’s impossible to sow even greens or early vegetables and you can pick up a “shift” only for the next year. Only nightshade is prohibited. Beloved peppers, eggplant, tomatoes should not get on the bed on which potatoes grew last year.
All legumes, including peas, as well as all cereals, alternate very well with potatoes. But no less suitable for sowing after potatoes and zucchini, pumpkin, radish, radish, turnip, rutabaga, cucumbers, cabbage (especially leafy), beets, garlic, onions, your favorite ripe vegetables and greens to the table - radishes, spinach, parsley and all types of salad (especially spicy - watercress, arugula and leaf mustard). If this choice is not enough, consider planting celery or parsnip.
When to cultivate the soil after potatoes?
Working with soil immediately after digging potatoes is one of the main secrets of maintaining soil fertility. Simple even in a few days, not to mention the months, can significantly affect the condition of the soil. And the sooner measures are taken, the better.
A few months before winter, the quality of the soil can be drastically improved and next year you can get an excellent platform for sowing.
Of course, in urgent circumstances, it is possible to cultivate the soil both in winter and in early spring (before planting the following crops), but the effectiveness of such measures will be lower.
The first step is to completely clean the beds
After digging potatoes in the garden, as a rule, a lot of garbage remains. Before you think about a strategy for improving the soil, you need to put it in order. From the soil, you should choose all the rhizomes of weeds and the remains of potato tops. The area cleared of garbage after potatoes must be leveled.
If plantings were seriously infected by wireworms, nematodes, any fungal diseases were common on potatoes, treatment from pests and fungal spores should be carried out on the whole soil immediately after harvesting.
Siderata - the main assistant after digging potatoes
Sowing green manure after potatoes allows you to not only restore the soil, but also take care of its health for many years. After all, restoring fertility according to the laws of organic farming, industrial plants also play an important role in the fight against toxins, pathogens and weeds.
Green fertilizers alone cope with the three main tasks of soil cultivation after digging potatoes:
- disinfect, eliminate the risk of spreading pests and diseases of potatoes and nightshade, prevent infection of other plants;
- increase the level of nutrients in the soil;
- restore the mechanical structure and texture of the soil.
And do not forget about additional "bonuses":
- restoration of a healthy biological environment and ecological balance;
- improving air and water permeability of the soil;
- reduction of digging procedures and reduction of efforts that need to be spent on soil cultivation;
- cost reduction, cost savings on organic and mineral fertilizers and special preparations.
After potatoes, any siderate is actually suitable for restoring soil fertility. But because the potato, due to its large vegetative mass and specific growth, depletes the soil in a special way, and it is more common to use pest and disease control agents for it, it is better to use siderates from the group of legumes and cruciferous.
First of all, it is worth paying attention to typical "potato" siderates - mustard, alfalfa, clover, lupine, fatseliya, peas, vetch. It is they who most quickly restore the phosphorus and nitrogen content in the soil and eliminate the negative consequences of growing nightshade.
Cereals are preferred for infection with wireworms and other soil pests, as well as for loss of friability or for signs of disturbance of the pH balance in the area. The best results after potatoes from cereals show crops of oats and rye.
Sowing density for soil care after potatoes is very important. The seed rate is calculated so that for every 10 square meters of the plot, about 200 g of green manure seeds are used. In this case, there will not be a situation with too few plants or congestion in the area with green mass, which cannot be effectively decomposed.
Autumn sowing of green manure is easier than spring
Autumn does not need a full decent sowing. After harvesting potatoes, green manure can be scattered evenly throughout the cleared area. From above the seeds are lightly sprinkled with soil (or covered with a rake) and covered with any covering material - non-woven materials, film, a layer of organic fertilizers, in particular compost. After watering, they will sprout quickly enough and begin to grow vegetative mass.
The following procedures on the site after potatoes are carried out after 30-40 days. When the plants reach a height of 15 cm (mandatory before the flowering of plants):
- Plants that have grown sufficient vegetative mass are mowed.
- The green mass is embedded in the soil, trying not to loosen the soil too deep, to a depth of several centimeters (a rake, a digging with a pitchfork, and a shovel will do).
- In addition, microbiological preparations and mature organic fertilizers (compost, humus or manure) are added to increase the effectiveness of these procedures.
If you sow green manure immediately after harvesting the potato, it doesn’t work or the weather forecast does not allow you to get the green mass on time, before the frost comes in, you can postpone the sowing and spend it in the winter. In this case, it is better to mulch the compost before sowing, and already at the end of autumn to conduct standard winter winter sowing of green manure.
Appearing immediately after the snow melts, the tender greens quickly grows in the vegetative mass and it is planted in the soil before planting or sowing the crops that you have identified.
Alternative Post Potato Soil Care Strategies
On depleted soil under classical agricultural technology, double application of mineral fertilizers is permissible - after harvesting potatoes and in the spring, before new crops.
In addition to the use of special fertilizers and complex preparations for restoring soil fertility (which are applied during deep digging of the soil throughout the site), the following methods of soil care after potatoes can be used:
- The use of fungicides and herbicides (from the dominant weeds and diseases that infected potatoes in a particular area), followed by deep digging of the soil and the application of mineral fertilizers (double the standard dose of phosphate fertilizers and the standard dose of potassium fertilizers).
- The application of organic fertilizers (compost or humus, 1 bucket per square meter) before the usual deep cultivation of the soil.
- Skipping the season and the "rest" of the site.
- The use of beds during the next season for the cultivation of summers and herbs with useful properties (mint, oregano, marigolds, calendula, etc.)
Dear readers! The depletion of soil by potatoes, as well as the loss of its structure, is a problem that you need to think about before planning your harvest. The increased needs of potatoes in phosphorus and potassium lead to the fact that without special measures and soil care it will be very difficult to restore the soil for the next crops.