Growing potatoes, advice needed

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by confusedturtle, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. confusedturtle

    confusedturtle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For the last 3 years I've planted potatoes and not gotten any big enough to eat. The first year I messed up bad, I tried to grow them in a pot and the holes in the bottom weren't big enough, so they stayed too moist. The second year I made larger holes and it had better drainage but we didn't get anything usable. I had just had a baby so my garden was not as well tended as it has been in years past. I did cut the eyes out of the potatoes, let them dry out for 2-3 days before planting. I started with less soil and added soil every time the greens got a few inches above the soil. This year I'm thinking about trying to grow them in pallet planter boxes (above ground planter boxes made from pallets). I've heard this works well but would love more information on how to do it and advice or tips from anyone who does this and has found success. I live in SE Virginia and since I will be planting in pallet planter boxes I do not yet have soil so if I need certain soil I can still get it.
     
  2. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've never grown them in containers, though I heard barrels work really well, just don't water them at all unless there's a drought or you'll have that rot problem. I assume you're not actually cutting the eyes out of the potatoes but that you're cutting the potatoes into pieces so that each piece has an eye, then letting them dry for at least 24hrs.

    What I've had great success with is trenches. It does not matter if you have VA clay soil or gorgeous black soil. Here's what I do... Dig a long trench in the ground, then line it with straw (preferably used chicken bedding but fresh will do). Cover with a layer of dirt, then add another layer of straw. Place your seeds potatoes on top of the straw, about 1ft from each other, more or less depending on how thick you usually garden. Add another layer of straw on top of the potatoes, and then a final layer of dirt that fills the trench. You can even add a layer of straw to the top of that for mulch. When the plants start to come up, start mounding. Add extra straw and soil, and make sure to leave a few leaves showing to let the plant keep growing and putting energy into the roots. Harvest the whole plant when the tops start to wilt, or harvest at the edges earlier in the season for new potatoes.

    You can substitute any sort of bulky mulch in for the straw if you're worried about weeds.
     
  3. erinszoo

    erinszoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We plant ours in raised beds sort of like heartmoss farm except as the plants grow we only use straw to cover. I've never seen anyone really have luck with an actual container growing situation. However our potato growing has been crap the last two years as well. Some years you can do everything right and they still don't grow.
     
  4. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Completely agree with that last part... gardening is a crapshoot [​IMG] I've heard that for new potatoes, you only mound with straw, and it makes harvesting a little over the whole season easier. I usually just wait for the plants to die and then harvest, so we mound with a mix, but not more than once or twice.
     
  5. confusedturtle

    confusedturtle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a ton of chicken bedding I can use, Ive been putting it in a huge flower pot over the past year so it should work well. Thank you. :-D
     
  6. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I made some potato bags out of landscape fabric and plant in those. I have 3 bags that I made and mix 2 bags topsoil, 1 bag mushroom compost and 1 bag of composted steer manure for my soil. I put 3" in the bottom of the bag, then lay out 3 or 4 potato slips, then 2" more of topsoil mix. As the plants grow I unroll the bag and add more mix till the bags are full - about 16" tall. My bags sit in some hardware fabric cylinders that I made to keep out the critters that ate my first planting attempt 2 years ago. The bags dry out a little fast in our high mountain desert - I water at least once day but I have had great success. The nice thing is that you really can't over water in a bag because any excess water will run out. I also wrap the wire cylinders with plastic in the spring to create a wind free zone for the plants. It also helps keep the plants warmer - I use a fairly clear plastic so they get alot of light. Potatoes thrive in hot sunny places as long as they get enough water.
    Last year I planted really late - like early/mid July and still had enough potatoes for a couple of meals at the end of the season (our first frost was 2 weeks early too!). I have a little bushel basket about the diameter of a dinner plate and got enough potatoes from two bags to fill it 5" deep. Not a great harvest, but a couple of the potatoes got about 2" in diameter, the rest were about 1" round.
     
  7. confusedturtle

    confusedturtle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have a picture of the potato bags? Sounds interesting, I'd love to try them
     
  8. thedollysmama

    thedollysmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My husband does clean outs when people move and we got a bunch of second hand Smart Pots, the medium ones. I think they are 3 foot across, I am filling them with layers of compost and dirt and planting my potatoes in them. We used half barrels last year to much success but I got about 50 pounds of seed potatoes for $8 and need to expand my operation!
    Smart pots are hardly cheap but free was a good price and I am anxious to see how they work.
     
  9. JennT

    JennT Out Of The Brooder

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    My suggestion is to NOT cut the eyes out of the potatoes. Those are the seeds! If the potato is bigger than two inches, cut in half or more, with two or more eyes on each piece. Let them dry with the cut side up or dip them in wood ash. Also, try a soil test. If you are container gardening and only need one round of tests, several places, like Home Depot sell one time tests. You may need to add nutrients, or even possibly have too much. Two things to add are bone meal and blood meal. I buy the organic ones and they are still fairly cheap. If you are using chicken manure, make sure that it has very well cured. If it hasn't, something called soil digestion occurs and it can actually deplete your soil in the short term if you use it too soon. Don't add too much dirt. Hill up. If using an indoor container garden (a bucket, for example), have holes in the bottom, a layer of small sticks or gavel, a small layer of leaves if you have them around, a very light dusting of your fertilizer (the bone and blood meal)...work the fertilizer in just a bit. Place your potatoes with the cut side down and cover with about 3 inches of dirt. When you see the sprouts starting to poke through, cover with more dirt...about 2 weeks. Do this hilling up until you are about ready to harvest.
     
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  10. confusedturtle

    confusedturtle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 6, 2011
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    Thank you! I still haven't started them yet, we had a cold snap and Norovirus just made its way thru the house. Thanks again!
     

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