Not Everything Likes Lime - In the Vegetable Garden

by Sylvia
(Hornby Island, BC Canada)

Supposedly, growing potatoes is one of the easiest things to do!

I prepared some lovely raised beds using some round "risers" that were left over from a job, thinking that if old tires work, these would too.
So far, so good.

Then I put in lots of fish compost mixed with soil and a wee bit of sand for good drainage.
Still OK, I think.

Next I put a good bit of lime in because everything needs some lime.

First mistake. Well, actually, the first mistake was not doing some reading ahead of time!

Then I put in my starter potatoes and waited.

Once they were up, I added more fish compost. I don't know if this was a mistake or not. I did it because I had read that was how to get lots of potatoes inside a stack of tires: keep adding soil to fill up tires one at a time, until you had a nice tower.

I watered them, lots and lots.

Last mistake, apparently.

What happened to my lovely, leafy, plants? They started to smell like rotten potatoes, and the stalks turned yellowish and fell down and died.

I didn't get any potatoes.

This year, looking at the nice round risers, full of lovely rich dirt, I wonder if I dare plant anything else in there? Will the potato-rot transfer to pole beans (runner beans)?

Potatoes will go somewhere else, will not be limed, nor drowned, and hopefully will yield.

I would appreciate knowing if I can use the potato spots from last year, safely, for my beans this year - apparently they DO like lime.

Cheers,

Sylvia


Response:

Sylvia, the most important thing here is that you tried growing potatoes and if we don't at least try then we'll never learn to anything.

If you haven't already then go to http://www.vegetable-garden-guide.com/how-to-grow-potatoes.html and read up on how to grow potatoes.

From what you describe it may be Potato Soft Rot infection that has affected your potato plants.

This infection thrives in warm moist conditions and over watering has probably produced the anaerobic conditions which encourages soft rot - the potato tubers become putrid, hence the smell maybe. All that fish manure probably hasn't helped either.

Adding lime will just encourage the formation of Common Scab on your growing potatoes, it looks ugly but does not affect the eating quality. Don't add lime before planting.

I don't think your pole beans will be affected so give them a go.

Don't rush to lime everything - you add lime to bring the soil close to the conditions the vegetable plant requires.

If it is acidic add lime, if alkaline dig in peat or well rotted compost or manure. But you need to know your soils pH which is the measurement of its acidity or alkalinity.

You can purchase a soil testing kit or a pH meter to do this.

BUT...

Generally all your vegetable garden growing and planting can take place and will thrive in a soil of pH between 6-7.

Maybe our visitors can add more to this by commenting on your article.

Incidentally, I enjoyed your writing - don't forget to write some more about your vegetable growing antics and make more pages like this one.

Laurence

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