How and when to tuck up potatoes

How and when to tuck up potatoes

One of the most important operations to do when growing potatoes is tamping, which basically consists in moving some earth towards the base of the plant. There are several reasons so it is better to heap the potatoes, the most important is to prevent the tubers from emerging, being in the sun.

The hocking work is useful not only on potatoes but also for various other garden crops, but tubers are perhaps the plant in which it is most profitable. Like any practice in agriculture there are different opinions, I recommend tamp twice during the crop cycle. If we do this work we can improve the quality and quantity of the crop. Below I try to explain to you in which period it is recommended to do our earth shift.

If you want to deepen other aspects of this tuber you can begin to do so by reading the general page on the cultivation of potatoes, from which you will then find numerous insights on every aspect, from sowing to harvesting.

Why carry out tamping

The first and main reason, as anticipated is keep the potatoes underground. Potatoes are a tuber that grows underground, where it must remain until harvest time, otherwise the vegetable will not be edible. In fact, with the sun's rays the potato becomes green, this happens because it triggers a production of solanine, a toxic substance for humans. In the event of abundant production, some tubers may come out into the open, to be sure that this does not happen, there is no better method than bringing a mound of earth back to the base of the plant.

Apart from that we also go to rincalzando loosen the ground, which is very positive because it prevents the earth from compacting, hardening and hindering the development of tubers of good size. Moving the earth also has the added value of oxygenating it.

The reinforcement can also be a protective operationRepairing a ground cover plant from the cold.

Finally there are two positive side effects, which allow to optimize the work in the garden:

  • Eliminate weeds. In fact, by tucking the hoe, weeding any weeds.
  • Fertilize during cultivation. It may be the right time for a light reinforcement fertilization: spreading compost or mature manure before hilling and taking advantage of the movement of earth to incorporate the fertilizer into the soil.

When to push back

In my opinion it is worth pressing twice during cultivation, this is not a fixed rule but simply my method. The exact period in which to do the work varies depending on the climatic zone and the period in which the potatoes are sown. Typically the potatoes are planted in early March, so they will heal towards the end of the month a first time, and a second more consistent operation will be around mid or late April.

In general We do not tuck in if the ground is wet, but wait until it is “in tempera”.

The first reinforcement

The first reinforcement is light and is carried out on very young plants. The primary purpose is repair them from any late night frosts, which by sowing potatoes in early March could still occur. In fact, potato sprouts are quite sensitive. For this reason it is more important to huddle in this period in the north rather than in milder climates.

To carry it out we expect that half of the plants emit the first two true leaves, usually happens later two or three weeks after sowing.

It is a important moment also for weeding, given that the plants are small and suffer more from competition from other grasses, so more than a real hedge it is a matter of moving a bit of earth while we are already hoeing to control the weeds.

We then proceed by moving land to cover the leaves of the young plants. In this way we get another nice result: the plant will have to stretch to find the light, consequently it will produce more stolons in the ground, which are the parts from which the tubers originate. We are therefore stimulating a increase in production.

Second reinforcement

The actual reinforcement is carried out after at least one month from sowing, When the plants have come to about 20 centimeters in height. If you have not carried out the first hilling, however, it is advisable to slightly anticipate the work, tucking the plants to 15 cm. Before doing the tamping, if you want, we can spread a little fertilizerThe mature compost or pelleted manure are fine for this purpose.

The second hilling will be more consistent, going to create a real mound at the foot of the potatoes.

How to tuck up

The concept of tamping is very simple: it involves moving the earth, transferring it from the inter-row or walkway space, until it reaches the stem of the plant. Since tubers are usually sown in rows, it is not advisable to tuck up the single plant, but move the earth towards the plants on both sides, in order to create a sort of hill along the entire row.

In small gardens the work is done with any hoe, preferably with a square blade, dragging the earth or pushing it. The work is quite tiring on the arms and back. There are also gods manual ridgers, which have a "V" shape in order to pass by moving the earth on both sides. If you plant potatoes in a regular way with the right distance between rows these tools are useful to do a quick job with reduced fatigue, for example this Wolf Garten ridger (part of the Multi Star system as the indispensable clod breaker) or this manual ploughshare. .

On major extensions there are several tamping machinery: plowshares or furrows can be applied to the two-wheel tractor, for professional agriculture also to the tractor. More refined machines are those with double discs, capable of making a tidier tamping if used on a well-worked soil.


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