Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Growing Potatoes

Weese mentioned planting potatoes in her yard the other day. Many people don’t know this little potato trick, but you can harvest a field of potatoes from a three-foot by three-foot box if you are limited for space.

What I’ve done in the past was to construct a wooden box where I could add or remove the boards on the side. I’d plant the potato starts in some soil on the bottom and as the greenery rose above the soil I would cover most of it with more soil. By the end of the summer the box will be filled with dirt and the potato start would still be at the bottom and tubers will have formed and grown all the way up the stem that I continually buried.

You can do this in just about any large container as long as it doesn't hold water in the bottom.

When the foliage at the top finally dies in the autumn at the top of the box it is time to remove the boards and shovel away the soil. You will find you will have close to 100 pounds of potatoes all grown in a three foot cube.

This method is much easier than a potato field because to grow potatoes properly in the ground you need to dig a deep rut and hill the soil constantly. It’s just easier to control a big cube than it is to manage a field. It takes less space and less water. It’s not too late to try it this year. Have fun!


Blogger Granny Annie said...

We use stacked tires for layered planting of potatoes. We also carpet our garden before planting to cut down on weeds.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

I remember that - we grew potatoes when I was a kid. Of course, I go to the farmer's market and get like 10 pounds of potatoes for a dollar and change, so I'll leave the work to you.

5:58 AM  
Blogger weese said...

(printing this for discussion over wednesday night wings/beer)
one question...
now i have 100 pounds of potatoes.
how long do they last in cool storage? (we have a root cellar)

9:44 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Granny, that all works, but many people are resistant to all those petroleum products decomposing in their gardens. They are better than herbicides.

Lori, you are missing my point...OK you can come up for a meal when you can no longer find your dime bag.

Keep them cold and dark and they should last you the winter. That's what root cellars are all about, keeping tubers through the winter.
Never put potatoes in the sun when you harvest. Keep them in the dark.

By the way, I couldn't find my photos of my old potato box. But I'm sure you get the picture.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

Never tried it with potatos, but when living in apartments in other countries we usually had a roof or balcony that we'd put a box on and grow tomatos. Loadsa tomatos.

The stuff in the stores is pretty much like eating cardboard if you're used to local produce.

I use tires as planters around places grass won't grow well.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous g said...

Thanks for the tip Guy.

I can't wait to tell my wife (the gardener) that we don't need to till half the yard for potatoes anymore.

8:11 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mike, I'd be cautious eating something that grew in a tire.

G, it works really well. If your soil has too much clay in it be sure to throw in some straw of uneaten hay with every layer of soil you add.

5:09 AM  
Anonymous Bayou said...

Guy, you are welcome to come up and do a demonstration in our yard. For blog photo purposes, of course. ;)

10:29 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Bayou, Like you are going to find time for gardening and visitors when Lach returns. ; )

7:25 AM  
Anonymous columbiacontrolfreak said...

Tried it. At the end of the season I had a box fun of rodent tunnels and a handful of half eaten tubers. If I do it again I'll have to make it a wire bottomed box.

8:28 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

CCF leave it to you to have a problem. Is your cat on strike?

5:41 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

I have done potatoes this way in old wine barrels with a few holes in the bottoms...the bonus was harvesting by dumping the whole things over on a tarp, pulling out the taters and putting the fluffed and sorted dirt back in the barrel with a cover crop. Quick and easy!

3:01 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

A harvest is a thing of joy.

3:18 PM  

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