Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Potatoes in a Barrel

We grew potatoes one year. We'd never grown them before, but at my grandma’s urging, accompanied by her recollection of her family growing them in a "truck patch," we decided to plant them. Now this was back when we knew next to nothing about gardening, so we did it just like we were told. (That way we could blame Grandma if things didn’t work out.)

We purchased a bag of seed potatoes, which don’t look much like seeds at all. They look like the potatoes in my refrigerator when I forget about them. The eyes had started to sprout, which in the case of seed potatoes is a good thing. Those sprouted eyes were what we were going to plant.

We cut the potatoes into pieces with two or three eyes on each piece and let them dry out for a couple of days. Then we made “hills” in the garden, about 18 inches apart.  In each hill, we put three of the pieces of potatoes about six inches apart and four inches deep, then covered them with soil.  That’s all we did, and mid-summer, about two weeks after the plants began to die back, we dug up potatoes!

This year, we’re growing them in a new way (for us). We got discarded black plastic 55-gallon barrels from Romie’s place of employment and cut the bottoms out of them. We placed topsoil in at a depth of about 8-10 inches, layering it with compost, then placed four sections of seed potatoes on top and covered them with soil about four inches deep.

Potatoes planted in the barrels on April 3rd broke through the soil on April 17th. These are from one section of potato which had three eyes.

As the potato plants grow to about eight inches high, we’ll continue to add soil to about half the height of the stems, and the plants will keep on growing. More importantly, they’ll keep making potatoes, since they form above the parent eye.  Once they start growing, don’t add compost, since that can contribute to scabby skins.  You can also add sawdust or straw and the potatoes will form in that. It just goes to show how adaptable potatoes can be.

Potatoes like cool growing weather, so plant them about two to three weeks before your last frost date.  Depending on the variety, they should be ready for eating in about 90 days.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Potatoes in a barrel. Now that is a novel way to grow them.

Victoria Williams said...

I've heard of the trash can method also. Why are ours still in a paper bag???????
I need a couple of helpers.

Victoria Williams said...

I've heard of the trash can method also. Why are ours still in a paper bag???????
I need a couple of helpers.

garden griot said...

Growing potatoes is becoming very popular. I am growing potatoes for the first time in plastic bags. Thanks for tip about adding compost.

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