Friday, April 5, 2013

The Potato Experiment - Part 1

 I've never really had any luck with growing potatoes, but that doesn't mean that I'm not going to try.  I figure that at some point I'll have run out of ways to fail, that I'll be successful. 

This year we were given a large bag of seed potatoes.  With so many potatoes, I decided to try several methods and see what worked best.

After spending LOTS of time researching, I came up with a list of things to remember:

Well drained soil
lots of space and sunshine
potatoes are heavy feeders
acidic soil reduces the risk of scab



Planting in a container

The container I used is a plastic storage tote that holds our pine cones for fire starters.  With wood stove season coming to an end, I can put this to use instead of storing it empty somewhere.

I cleaned it out and drilled lots of drain holes on the bottom.  While potatoes need lots of water, if they sit in water they will rot.  Trust me, I know this from experience.


I filled the bottom with about 3 inches of a soil/manure mix.  In the past I have cut my potatoes into smaller pieces.  This year I decided that I'm going to plant every potato whole.


With the same soil/manure mix, I covered the potatoes to about 6 inches. 

  

As the vines grow, I'll cover them with more soil leaving only a small portion of the leafy top exposed.



Planting in a Hill


Outside of the garden area, there is a nice pile of dirt from moving the garden shed.  I made a trench about 2 inches deep and placed my potatoes in it.

Like my nice straight line?

Using the same soil/manure mix, I covered these potatoes with about 6 inches of soil.  


As they grow, I'll use the same method as the container to cover them.

I only used about a fourth of the seed potatoes.  I would like to try the straw/mulch method (dirtless) and the bag method.  It should be interesting at the end of summer to see which (if any) method works best.

Leftovers

What method of planting potatoes works best for you?


4 comments:

  1. Good luck to you. I'll be planting potatoes soon. I hope they all grow. I've never done it before.

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  2. Hi, I love experiments too and have tried some with our own potatoes. We used a bin with holes like you have, and put the potatoes on top of soil, filling it with straw every 6" as they grew. As long as the potato was in the soil in the 1st stage, they did very well with just straw for the rest, all the way to the top of the bin, and then it was ready to die down on its own. It worked for us, anyway. Have fun with your experiments.

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  3. We've always grown ours in the ground although I'd like to try the straw method. We purchased a farm at the end of last summer and have found the soil to be a heavy clay so I'm not sure how in the ground potatoes will do here. I told my husband we need a couple tons of sand to add to the soil while we're working on amending it with organic matter from our livestock. Looking forward to seeing how you're experiments do.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've done some experimenting with potatoes too! I found that what works great one year, doesn't necessarily work the next year. I'm doing a version of the container method this year, only my containers don't have a bottom. I'm just using it to help contain the dirt/straw I add on top.

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