Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Potato Experiment

I have been looking lustfully at English potato barrels. They look so nice and I like the idea of slipping up the sides and sneaking a few new potatoes. And I have relatives in England who might be persuaded to buy such pots and ship them to me. But not for the hefty cost of £35 each! (about $70 and I'm not including what it would cost to ship)

My greatest success with potatoes was when I put them in the raised beds. But they were difficult to dig up at harvest time and I've been chasing potatoes in that bed ever since. I'll admit that it's fun to find them when turning the bed in Spring and Fall. But I tend to find them with the fork stuck straight through the center of the spud and then the ones I miss pop up in odd places, like where the garlic is growing now. Strangely enough, I've even found potatoes in the planters on the deck 12 feet above the garden! My only guess is a bird re-planted a spud it had dug up.

So container planting is my preferred method, but I haven't found a pot that reliably produces a big crop. So far all my other "potato tower" and container potatoes have been of limited success. The "potato tower" barely yielded the same weight as the starter potatoes that I put in. Once I had a sizable crop from a container (where the potato sprung up magically). I keep planting that same pot, but it's never produced the same yield.

I've been hoping that an American vendor would show some interest in buying potato pots, and then I would purchase from there - but it hasn't caught on. I did notice now sell potato grow sacks, but I'm afraid the gophers would make short work of those. But why not look for a pot the same size as the grow bags? I have some "tree size" pots that I now have some potatoes growing in. I believe it is classed as a #15 tree size pot and it measures 15" in diameter and 18" tall. The picture here shows them next to a pile of classic "1 gallon pots".

It's smaller than a wine barrel half, therefore easier to harvest. So I think this might work. I placed 3 starter spuds in each on top of 8-inches of soil. I covered the starts with 3 more inches of soil. And as they grow, I've been adding in more potting soil. And they are growing like gangbusters. I have high hopes for these new "potato pots".

By the way, these were planted near St. Patrick's day - the time when my Granddad used to plant his annual spud crop. However, with the temperate climate here, I'm lucky to be able to plant potatoes 3 different times a year (from my own starts) and if these pots work out, I might try a go at a 4th crop kept in the greenhouse over winter.


Leslie said...

I've never tried your opinion is it too late to start some now in Davis? Your container idea sounds good!

blueblue said...

I keep meaning to have a go at growing potatoes in a container/garbage bin/ popup gardening tidy or whatever...but now I'm mooning over potato barrels...such golden simplicity. I wonder if it would be possible to put something together that was similar..?