We planted our potatoes last week here at Clay Hill Farm. I don't grow potatoes in the ground, though - I grow them in barrels. It's really easy, and the yields are very good. You can grow up to forty pounds of potatoes in each barrel, depending upon the size of the barrel.
Potato plants are actually attractive, and they look good in containers. Only these containers can help cut your grocery bill this fall, and growing your own potatoes is fun!
If you want to grow your own potatoes in a barrel, select your container first. You can use a barrel, or a large pot, or a growing bag, or one of the commercially available potato barrels. I've even heard of using old tires, and stacking them as the plants grow. Potatoes are remarkably versatile and will grow almost anywhere.
Make sure there are holes or an opening in the bottom of your container for drainage. Put three inches (or so) of dirt in the bottom of the container. Season your seed potatoes by cutting them into chunks with one or two eyes per chunk, and let them sit and dry for a day or so. Then plant your seed potato chunks in the dirt.
When the potato plants get three or four inches high, cover all but the top inch in more dirt, Keep doing that until your container is full of dirt. This essentially creates a very long root, and little potatoes will sprout all along the length of it.
When the plants have flowered and the flowers have died back, your potatoes are ready to harvest. Tip the barrel and pick up your potatoes. It's that easy. You can harvest new potatoes in the summer by gently reaching into the soil and pulling out the baby spuds before the big harvest in the fall, but we usually don't do that. We wait for the big motherlode in early fall - taters everywhere!!!!
We dump a barrel every couple of weeks when it's time to harvest the potatoes. This helps keep the potatoes from spoiling, as they might if we harvested all the barrels at once.
I don't re-use potato barrel dirt from one year to the next. This year's potato dirt will go into the compost pile and spend a year or so helping the worms break down vegetable wastes and chicken and horse manure before I put it back into circulation in a raised bed or container or tilled into a flower bed. This is because potatoes are susceptible to blight and you don't want to allow the blight to establish itself in your dirt.
If you want more information on growing your own potatoes, here are some links:
A Good Fence—Thursday, July 24, 2014
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