Potato compost bugs, what can i do?

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Ageing Hippy
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Potato compost bugs, what can i do?

Postby Ageing Hippy » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:19 pm

Hello everyone...

I'm a few years into growing my own veg for the first time and have been slowly expanding what i grow.
I have grown 1st early potato's in raised beds in the past to varying success and then had to spend the next 2 years removing rogue potato plants that keep growing, obviously due to me not being able to find all the spuds in the beds when i dug them up.

So this year, i have used some small green potato growing bags and shop brought compost to grow the spuds.
I have just emptied the first bag and got a few meals out of it and the potatoes taste good and don't look like they have any issues with decease or been eaten by bugs, but now i have a problem.

What do i do with the left over compost and is there a bug issue with it?
I have read online that i can put the spent compost on to raised beds but make sure i put it on a bed that wont be growing potato family crops next year as per crop rotation rules.
I would have been OK with this but the main problem is that when i dug down and found the original seed potatoes, there were hundreds of tiny white creatures in them and I'm not sure what they are or what to do with the compost as i don't want to throw it away if i don't have to.
After doing some research, I think they may be springtails. the creatures are white, 1 to 2 mm in length, move quickly and can jump like fleas!
I know some creatures and bugs are beneficial for the soil but being a newbie i don't want to make assumptions and possibly infect my raised beds.

I was hoping to maybe grow a second round of the same variety of spud in the compost to see if i could eek out another crop from the compost before putting it on the beds but after finding these creatures in it I've hit a wall and have no idea what to do!

Another thing i was considering was to put the compost through a hotbin composter that i got this year but i read that you shouldn't put any part of a potato or tomato plant in a composter because of possible disease, but I cant seem to find any definitive info on this regarding whether this applies to hot composting as well. If the compost can go in a composter would the creatures contaminate the compost or die in the heat?

Sorry for writing a book but being a newbie I didn't want to miss any details out.

Any help regarding these matters will be gratefully received.

Thanks
Gary
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Westi
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Re: Potato compost bugs, what can i do?

Postby Westi » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:45 pm

Welcome Gary!

Don't re-use the same compost but put it in the composter! The mother spud going in early will attract slugs & other hungry critters which might also like your other crops if not eradicated! It's done it's job with giving you spuds, time to prep it for the follow on/future crops without them in residence! It's spent of nutrients anyway so not gonna be helpful except for a mulch & you don't want freeloaders on board!
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Re: Potato compost bugs, what can i do?

Postby Stephen » Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:08 pm

Welcome.
Potatoes are a great way to start growing vegetables.

Everyone has "escapees" or "volunteers" growing next year or the one after that. I have them bursting through weed supressing membrane on my new plot, so at least two years old as the plot was hardly cultivated last year

Otherwise, I agree with Westie.
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Re: Potato compost bugs, what can i do?

Postby Monika » Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:45 pm

Gary, we grow potatoes in large pots and reuse the compost for bulbs, wallflowers and stuff like that for next spring or for growing carrots in pots the following year. As long as you stick to vegetables unrelated to the potato family (tomatoes, aubergines etc), you could reuse it next year with an addition of some fertiliser.
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Re: Potato compost bugs, what can i do?

Postby Ageing Hippy » Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:09 pm

Thanks for the info...
I would like to re-use if possible, waste not want not...

Does anyone know if the what i called springtails a threat to my garden?

Cheers
Gary
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Re: Potato compost bugs, what can i do?

Postby Primrose » Mon Jul 06, 2020 2:13 pm

I,ve never hear of springtails. Are they they same thing ad marestails which are sturdy green feathery fern like shoots EHIC groe singly?
If so, yes, they can be a nightmare and very hard to eradicate so dig out the deep roots as thoroughky as you can and never give them A chance to get established.
I will Google them and see if they're the same plant known by another name.

PS. Oops. Discovered they are insects, not plants, Hangs head in shame as I've still never heard of them but at least know what they are now !!
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Re: Potato compost bugs, what can i do?

Postby Geoff » Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:00 pm

Listed on the RHS website under "Beneficial insects and bugs".

What: Springtail. Less than 6mm long. Various colours. Many are able to jump

Benefit: Helps in the process of breaking down organic matter

Likes: Often found in damp places such as leaf litter, compost heaps and decaying material
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Re: Potato compost bugs, what can i do?

Postby Primrose » Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:42 pm

Can you spread out the earth on a tarpaulin or polythene sheet and let the birds forage all the bugs? . It,s still baby feeding time and I'm m sure there would be a ready market for them !

As to reusing your compost rather then wasting it I,ve mentioned this on the forum before but being new you will have missed it.

I,ve developed a successful way of reusing compost in containers. When I remove summer growing plants I stir up the compost and over the course of autumn and winter thorughly mix in my kitchen peelings,banana skins, some lawn clippingS, fallen leaves etc and let them all rot and compost down in situ in the containers ( althiugh I don,t include potato peelings in the pots where I grow tomatoes as they're the same family. This add nutrients and humus back into the Mixture and when I replant them in spring I just add a few chicken manure pellets.

I,ve been doing this for three or four years now with good results. My husband is experimenting with growing potatoes in three containers this summer and once they're harvested, if he wants to grow them again in the same way next year, I,m going to use the same process for them. It,s surprising how quickly vegetable waste rots down when mixed with plenty of soil/compost and if the coNtainers get some winter sun, this speeds up the process.

I was particularly glad I did this last autumn because the Coronavirus lockdown meant I totally ran out of fresh compost until quite late on in the replanting season and it meant I had pots of rejuvenated compost in which I could still plant things.

Obviously don't use this method if yiu have infected soil of any kind but as compost heaps are full of all kids of bugs as part of the rotting down process I,m not sure it makes too much difference where the composting takes place, ie in a heap or in a container!
Incidentally I have several healthy looking potato plants growing in of my older compost heap at the moment and I imagine there are all sorts of bugs beavering around in the material beneath the surface.
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