Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grow your own Potatoes - By the Seattle Times

Potato Box Project By The Seattle Times

Quite the clever gardening tip here folks! Today’s feature includes tips from three different sources for growing potatoes vertically (in layers) instead of spread out in rows across your garden. If you have limited garden space or want to try some nifty gardening magic, this could be a great option for you.

First, there’s this article from The Seattle Times: It’s Not Idaho, But You Still Can Grow Potatoes:

The potatoes are planted inside the box, the first row of boards is installed and the dirt or mulch can now be added to cover the seed potatoes. As the plant grows, more boards and dirt will be added.

You plant potatoes in one bottom layer, boarding up the sides of each layer and adding dirt as you go higher (you wait until the plants have grown a bit before adding a new layer). While new potatoes are growing in the top layers, remove the boards from the first layer at the bottom to carefully dig out the potatoes that are ready for harvesting. Fill the dirt back in and board up the box again. You move up the layers and harvest as the potatoes are ready. I imagine the new potatoes in the first couple bottom layers would be somewhat awkward to get at but as you move higher–not so bad.

I traced the information provided in the article to Irish Eyes Garden Seeds, they have another how-to article online here: How to Grow 100 lbs. of Potatoes in 4 Square Feet. They also advise you can skip the box and try growing the potatoes in a barrel or wire cage instead.

In another article on The Seattle Times (How To Grow Potatoes At Home), I came across this blog post from Sinfonian’s Square Foot Garden that details his attempt at growing potatoes with this potato box method: Build-As-You-Grow Potato Bins.

The info was from last year (lots of pics) and he’s promised updates of this year’s attempts. He added this tip for a better yield:

Greg from Irish-Eyes Garden City Seeds let me know that Yukon Golds, and all early varieties set fruit once and do not do well in towers. You only get potatoes in the bottom 6 inches, which is what I got. Late season alternatives to yukon gold are Yellow Fin and Binjte.
Bonus! For a handy project sheet, The Seattle Times has a nice image file detailing the steps (click to view the original):

Imagine growing all those potatoes in a just a few square feet–and how drastically reduced the potato-patch weeding job will be! So Clever.

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