Potato Problem – Solved!

So I have been stumped as to where I went wrong with my lovely potato crop that died and shrivelled for no apparent reason.  Online searches have yielded no resolution and I was left to guessing what was wrong.  But I think I can now say with certainty, I had an infested soil problem.

A while ago my dad handed me a copy of ‘The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening’.  I have to admit, for a complete novice it is actually a really good book.  The vegetable garden section, well actually all of the book, is really comprehensive and advises you on pretty much every aspect of gardening for the veg patch.  It was looking through the pest and disease sections, or ‘Plan Problems’ chapter, that I stumbled upon what I suspect my potatoes had.

Firstly is exhibit a) The Potato Cyst Eelworms

Potato Cyst Eelworms

It might just be my overactive imagination but I am certain I saw the cysts that are described in the passage…………either that or one of my other plants have them too.  All I know is that I have seen the little white nodules described somewhere in my gardening journey.  The description of symptoms explains pretty much what happened:

“Plants yellow and die, starting with the lower leaves, and potato tubers remain small.”

I have also read HERE that yields are affected, which is what happened to my poor tatties.  Only 20 potatoes and they were pretty tiny.  So from these factors I believe I had potato cyst eelworms.

Then there is exhibit b) Wireworms

Potato Wireworms

I am 100% sure I saw one of these suckers in one of the tubers when I emptied out the planters.  These can also cause plants to wilt and die back.

The potatoes were one of the first things that I planted out when I started my gardening hobby, so it is likely that I used up an old bag of compost that was lying around my garden.  So it is probable that the soil was a bit past it, it had probably been lying around since last summer open and anything could have crawled in and laid its eggs.  Who knows!  But I shall definitely be more careful in the future with which soils I use for growing veggies.  The second lot of potatoes I planted in a different planter, soil and position are nearly ready to dig up so we shall see how those went and whether the soil or the tubers were the problem.  But even by looking at them now I can tell they are completely different as they are about to flower which the last lot never got to, and they look SO much more healthy.

potato flowers

Until next time, happy gardening!

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