After a disappointing 2nd crop, I bravely planted a third round of potatoes in late February and they’ve been growing really well.
However the autumn has arrived with the evenings & mornings are getting cooler and we’re about to head away on holiday for 3 weeks. I’m worried that there will be a frost whilst we’re not around to put some protection over them and I’m wondering if we should rig up some frost cloth that stays over them forthe 3 weeks.
I’ve never used frost cloth before & I’m worried that it will block rain & sun and therefore stifle as much growth as it protects. Any thoughts?
Have you any idea when your first frost date is? That will give you some idea as to when you can expect your first frost. If it falls during the 3 weeks you will be away I wouldn’t bother covering them. The first frosts are unlikely to damage your potatoes even if it does kill of the top growth. If there is still time before you go away you could try scrapping up some more soil so that the layer over the forming spuds is a little deeper, even just a couple of cm will make all the difference. Alternatively you could lay some newspapers over the soil beneath the plants, again this will give a little extra protection to the developing tubers which are just under the soil surface.
I’ve been struggling to find first frost date info for my area but have worked out we get an average of 1 day of frost in the months we’ll be away, so if one frost is not going to kill them I’ll leave uncovered and try your newspaper trick – cheers :-)
Do you get frost in Tauranga at this time of year? I would have thought it would be too early for anything serious? Weatherzone has your frost risk for the next week set as nil (see here for details…well, actually tonight it’s slight but the rest of the week is nil. I’ve found the Aussie equivalent to be pretty accurate). If you’re worried, maybe putting straw or some sort of mulch over them would keep the soil a bit warmer & help protect them? You can just leave it for the potatoes to grow through (I grow mine completely in straw & it works well…plus gets quite hot).