No Dig Potatoes, Parsnips, …


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This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  tidy beard 1 week, 2 days ago.

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  • #42722

    kGarden
    Participant

    Hi Charles,

    I noticed in your recent video with comparison of strips 1-to-3 that even the strip that was “opened” by pushing a fork in and wiggling, without even turning the soil, performed less well than the soil that was completely undisturbed.

    I have a number of crops that cause significant disturbance to the soil! I can’t get my Parsnips out without considerable excavation, and (maybe I shouldn’t …) I plant my seed potatoes into the soil somewhat, and then earth up only using compost – but in order to harvest them I pretty much wind up “proper digging” the whole bed.

    Very heavy clay here, perhaps in years to come it will be beautiful, friable, loam … but, sadly, not yet.

    I’d appreciate any thoughts and advice you, and others, may have.

    #42735

    Rhys
    Participant

    I have heavy clay here in NW London and the first few years I dug out potatoes like you. This year, year 3 of no-digging, I popped each tuber in a hole dug with a trowel, then mulched from July with comfrey cuts (I have around 20 plants, some more vigorous than others), plenty so tubers pushing up were not exposed to light.

    When I harvested, I pulled the plants out by hand and then harvested tubers using my hands. Although the odd one took a bit of removing, 95%+ just came out easily. We did have a lot of rain from mid July which may have helped. I harvested Desiree late August and Sarpo Mira at the equinox.

    The yields were 2.5 – 3lb per tuber, spaced in a 40cm*40cm grid, which was around 20lb per square metre. Almost no disease, maybe 5 of 300 good sized tubers had minor slug damage. No scab at all this year.

    #42740

    charles
    Moderator

    Nice potato account Rhys, bravo.
    Parsnips do need some soil disturbance but I would not call it digging, more levering. It’s a fair point kGardener that parsnips do cause some damage, I have yet to grow ones that pull out, has anyone please?

    #42749

    Don Foley
    Participant

    Hi kGarden
    I use a hand Fork to gently lever out Parsnips, Garlic and Potatoes. I plant only early Potatoes. They are in raised beds planted at least 6″ deep at 12″ eachway. I plant the tubers deep in order to avoid/minimise earthing up. I have found that earthing up on my wood sided raised beds results in a lot of the compost being washed onto the surrounding paths. The downside of this method is that the crop is well anchored and doesn’t pull out easily.
    Next season I plan to plant more shallow and will add temporary extensions to the bed sides when earhing up. Its a little extra work but should result in little soil disturbance when harvesting this crop.
    I can’t think of any answer for the Parsnips. As with the Garlic I will continue to use the hand Fork to assist in gently levering these out. Its really minimal disturbance anyway.
    Don.

    #42751

    kGarden
    Participant

    Useful feedback, thanks all.

    >> I have found that earthing up on my wood sided raised beds results in a lot of the compost being washed onto the surrounding paths

    I started with “lazy raised beds”: excavating the paths between the beds by 6″ or so, and piled onto the beds, until I could afford the boards. The shoulders collapse a bit during the season, and can’t easily be planted right to the edge, but it did me OK for the first half dozen years; on my heavy clay soil the main benefit was that the sunken paths improved the drainage of the beds. When I added the boards that was on top of the soil, by my calculation excavating the 18″ wide path, 6″ deep, and spreading it on a 4′ wide bed only adds 2.25″. Then garden compost regularly added, so I am fortunate in not being close to the top of the boards

    >> I have yet to grow ones that pull out, has anyone please?

    Dan does on his allotment:

    🙂

    #42754

    Rhys
    Participant

    I can get parsnips out by putting a spade in one spit deep three sides of the root row, then pulling the root upwards, but i agree it is about the hardest out there to remove. This year carrots have come out much more easily, so maybe parsnips will be the same?

    #42755

    tidy beard
    Participant

    This my third year of no dig as well, on a heavy clay soil. I planted first and second earlies 4 inches deep in three rows along a 5ft wide bed. The bed had been top dressed with 2 inches of home made compost the previous autumn. I earthed up by adding more compost along the rows to form ridges. I was able to harvest by pulling up the plants and using my hands to collect the tubers. I also found that the odd one needed help from a trowel, but it was a very easy harvest with very little disturbance below the compost. I then levelled out the bed with a rake and planted my leeks. When I was still digging I could hardly get a fork into the ground at harvest time it was so dry and hard. I find now that it is nearly always moist under the top dressing.

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