Sunday, March 9, 2014

Garden Musings: Planting Potatoes

Last year when we prepped our garden beds, we found some small potato starts buried deep in the dirt. The beds had previously held tall floral plants that were added by our landlords. On one end of the largest bed, they had a few strawberry plants and some potatoes. We didn't see any signs of the veggies until we started digging down to reach the irrigation system.

The first part of the garden prep was to link the underground irrigation to above ground drip lines. That was a large project that turned more expensive than planned, as we found certain sections of pipe were broken or not properly routed. Luckily, Greg was able to figure it all out, so this year we can cut out the two weeks of time that sucked up trying to get it fixed!

When we discovered the potato plants, they were in the section where we had planned to plant our tomatoes. So we took the four small root sections and moved them to the opposite end of the bed. Because they had already been planted, we decided to leave them as-is and build up dirt mounds over the top.

After researching the best ways to grow potatoes, we decided we'd try planting our own in burlap sacks. This method was supposed to allow for easy dirt piling, since it is contained in a sack. It also allowed for easier watering, because you could water through the burlap. The downside being that the burlap material will break down and rot through the bottom, so be careful where you plant it! 

We planted different varieties of potatoes in 4 sacks grouped together. They grew very well, and as the leaves sprouted further upward, we unrolled the sack and added more soil/compost. Potatoes themselves are easy to plant. You just use some leftovers from your pantry, make sure it has a few "eyes", cut them in half and plant them with the "eyes" facing up.

By the end of the season, we had picked over 15 pounds of potatoes at different growth stages (baby reds were my favorite!). However, due to the amount of soil you have to use to keep filling these sacks, and the success of the pre-planted leftovers from the landlord, we've determined the in-ground mound planting is the better way to go. 

Greg still has plans to try the wood slat box version of a potato planter, but I think 4 rows of dirt mounds would give us plenty of french fries for the season!

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