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The potato is a vegetable that adapts well to different climatic types, thanks also to the possibility of moving and delaying their cultivation cycle. You can therefore grow this vegetable profitably whether you live in the countryside, whether you live in the mountains. Indeed, to be honest, the best climatic conditions are precisely those recognizable in the mountains, in the alpine, prealpine and, of course, Apennine areas. Why? Because potatoes need an abundant amount of water, an element that in the southern parts of our country, or in the open country, during the torrid and dry summer period tends to be scarce. Not for nothing, this delicious vegetable requires about five hundred liters of water for every kilo of dry substance produced! However, the right temperature for the profitable and satisfying cultivation of the potato ranges from eighteen to twenty degrees centigrade.
The potato is demanding in terms of cultivation soil. In fact, it needs a soil rich in old strength, and therefore in humus, and which is sufficiently close to the type of medium mixture or even, in some cases, dissolved. Yes, because the loose soil, therefore slightly sandy, favors the growth of the tuber without hindering its formation.
A type of terrain suitable for potato cultivation It is also the alkaline one (basic), or calcareous, which we do not recommend here because of the ease with which potatoes in this soil can contract diseases such as scabies.
POTATOES IN BRIEF
|Family, genus, species||Solanaceae, Solanum tuberosum|
|Type of plant||Annual herbaceous, tuberous|
|Ideal growth temperature||18 ° / 20 ° C|
|Soil||Loose, worked, rich in decomposed organic substance|
|Pests and diseases||Colorado beetle, moth, grillotalpa, alternariosi, downy mildew|
Fertilization and care
A good amount of organic substance will be good for your potatoes. Mix it with the soil in the autumn or better still in winter. Depending on the place where you prefer to practice this type of cultivation, you can also delay the fertilization periods by excess or by default. A good fertilization in the ideal period will avoid an excessively late mineralization, which would increase the sensitivity of the plant to the peronospores. In this way the good properties of the tubers would be damaged and preserved properly, favoring rather the growth of the leaves than that of the potato itself. And the potato leaves are not as good as the tuber!
Also avoid exceeding with a fertilizer rich in nitrogen, because you could decrease the starch content by increasing instead that of glucose and fructose. Recommended instead is, of course, the use of good composted manure, because it accelerates the growth process and nourishes your precious tubers faster.
Among the most important cultivation treatments, we find weeding and scraping. Weeding should be applied until the buds appear on the furrows. After which you can tuck in: in this way we will protect the potato from greening and instead favor its tuberization.
Another very important factor not to be underestimated is that even a short period of water scarcity can cause an arrest in the growth of the potato, with irreversible consequences in terms of quantity collected and quality.
In northern Italy, particular attention must be paid to water scarcity in the periods of late April and May. However, the maximum alert period for this purpose is between June, July and August. In these months it will be necessary to intervene with irrigation water at least every 5-8-10-15 days.
Dispense water gently to prevent the tubers from uncovering and becoming damaged. In fact, a correct water supply will make the photosynthesis process easier, with a consequent increase in the production of your delicious tubers. Provocating stress in this sense can lead to the so-called secondary growths, problems in the tuber paste and imbalances of a chemical nature, irreparably damaging the quality of the tuber in a substantial way.
Potato sowing is usually done in normal conditions during the spring season. If the pre-sprouting is not carried out, then the potato can be buried in whole or cut a few days before. It is good to bury it in its entirety if the potato is small in size, while if it were larger, it should be cut and checked beforehand, however, that it has at least three or four sufficiently fertile buds.
The advantage of the cut is in saving the purchase of the seeds, however the disadvantage lies in the fact that this practice could lead to a fatal rot of the potato in the process of being buried.
Therefore, in the event of a cut, it is advisable to sow it thickly, dusting the tuber with seaweed flour or a substance called "lithotamnio": this will make the tuber healing easier.
Sow your potatoes at a distance of thirty centimeters from each other in the row, space the rows at least sixty centimeters apart.
Plant the tubers at a depth close to ten, fifteen centimeters.
Depending on the state of conservation of the tuber-seed and its size, the useful quantity for sowing will vary from time to time.
A fundamental advice?
Sow your potatoes when the garden has a dry soil; raise your eyes to heaven and make sure it does not rain at any moment; look at your hands: if they are cold and purplish, don't plant the tuber yet! Frosts could come, absolute enemies of your potatoes!
Diseases of potatoes
Potatoes are a vegetable grown throughout Italy but being a tuber that lives underground there can frequently be problems related to fungi and bacteria that can attack and compromise the quality of the crop. Not only that, often even the leaves of this plant can be subject to attacks by annoying pests that are able to undermine the health of the plant, even seriously compromising it.
Downy mildew is a fungus that affects potatoes quite frequently and is the most damaging fungal disease for this vegetable. In past centuries, when the potato was one of the most cultivated vegetables by the people, the epidemics of this fungus have done incredible damage in Europe. Downy mildew in fact attacks the tuber and causes it to rot and in periods in which people lived from the potato harvest, as in the nineteenth century, the failure to harvest this vegetable caused many deaths.
Rizzotoniosis is another disease that affects the root of the potato, producing showy red-brownish spots on the roots which, when enlarged, destroy the root and compromise the tubers, causing black spots that are not removed from the skin except by removal. .
Consociation and turnover
According to an ancient tradition very widespread in mountain areas, potato cultivation must be combined with bean cultivation. It seems that the proximity between the two plants is useful for the prevention of the Colorado beetle. Generally the tubers and legumes are arranged in alternate rows with various other crops (broad beans, peas, cabbage, sunflower, corn).
The potato can be inserted into a plot successfully after cereals (in particular rye) or alfalfa. Subsequently, however, wheat, beetroot and corn can be planted.
It is not advisable to cultivate for several years in the same area, to avoid the onset of specific diseases. We always wait at least 5 years before repeating the cycle.
Potatoes can be classified according to their intended use or starting from the color of the peel (yellow or red-violet) and the paste (white or yellow).
The white-paste potatoes are generally richer in starch and are therefore ideal for the preparation of gnocchi, timbales, soups or mashed potatoes. Those with yellow paste have a more compact consistency and tend to fall less even after a long cooking. They are therefore ideal fried or baked, resulting more crispy.
When we plant them we must also know that there are early, medium-early ones, medium-late and late (they are harvested in the fall.
• Early children have a short cycle, which ends 70 to 80 days after planting. They are usually eaten with their skin, as it will be very fine and it will only be necessary to clean it well by rubbing it with a damp cloth. They have a very limited shelf life and should be consumed within a maximum of 45 days.
• Half-days are collected from 90 to 110 days after sowing.
• The semi-late and late ones are collected from 110 to 130 days after planting. To extract them you have to wait until the leaves have completely withered. They have a rather long shelf life under the right conditions.
Here are some very well known cultivars
• Agate: very productive, yellow color for peel and pulp, which is very compact. Overall oval shape. It has a limited shelf life. It is used as a novella, often baked.
• Very productive Amandine, elongated shape, yellow skin and paste. Very compact, ideal for baking or steaming.
• Belle de Fontenay yellow externally and internally, very compact and exceptionally tasty. Low yield
• Manon: powdery, yellow peel and paste. Suitable for all kitchen uses; resistant to powdery mildew.
• Charlotte: medium compact, pale yellow skin and peel, good performance. Suitable for steaming or for cold salads.
• Bleue d'Artois purple pulp and skin. Rather compact, ideal for purees and dumplings. Good performance
• Monalisa soft light yellow flesh, like the peel. For all kitchen uses.
• Amber yellow paste and thin skin, very resistant to diseases and storable
Semi-late and late
• Vitelotte: very intense flavor, pulp and purple skin. Elongated shape, low performance. Mealy, excellent for puree and fried
• Kennebec among the most widespread in cultivation; light skin and yellow pulp, powdery but tasty. For gncchi, puré and soups.
• Ratte, butter potato: firm and yellow pulp, light skin. Small, elongated. Ideal baked, steamed or in a salad. Low efficiency.
• Majestic white pasta, traditional Italian. Suitable for any use.
The harvest can be done manually, in small plots, or with the help of mechanical means. It is essential to avoid damaging the individual tubers, as this could lead to early rotting.
First of all we wait for the weather to be dry and the ground completely dry; this helps processing and promotes excellent preservation. In the case of late potatoes it is important to wait until the aerial part is completely dry before starting the unearthing.
If we want to test the degree of maturation of the tubers we will have to do a little test: we extract some of them and try to rub their skin. If this remains compact, we can proceed with the collection of the entire plot.
Before storage we make a careful selection of the potatoes eliminating the spoiled ones. Those damaged can be set aside and used, cut and cleaned for possible future sowing.
THE POTATOES CALENDAR
|Collection||June-September depending on the variety|
Potato cultivation: Conservation
The potatoes are kept in a dry, cool and dark room with a temperature of about 4 ° C.
We intervene several times during the winter to eliminate the jets and the tubers that are damaged.
Avoid keeping them in the refrigerator, as too low temperatures can cause the production of acrylamide, a potentially harmful substance. We also avoid eating potatoes with green shades.
Watch the video
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