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Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

  1. Planting Potatoes: The Finale

    January 20, 2012 by Daniora

    Freshly harvested potatoes

    When last we left our little potato plants, everything was going rather swimmingly. We were a bit behind schedule but I was getting ready to fold up the top of the bag and add more soil.

    Shortly thereafter, tragedy hit.

    In addition to many other veggies, we grow heirloom tomatoes. They are delicious and exotic looking and really fun to have around. The problem is that they also have lower resistance to disease than the more commercially bred varieties. Sadly, a few of our tomato plants caught something. Their leaves got all yellow and fell off, and in spite of our best efforts, we lost a couple of plants. The other problem was that this blight (or whatever it was) spread to my little potato plants. The smallest of my potato plants died, and the others looked a little sickly.

    I was hesitant to go adding more soil to the bags; I figured since the leaves were a little sad they probably would need all the surface area they could get. Covering any of them would probably hurt the plants in the end. After that, I left them alone until the end of the season. The largest plant got pretty leggy, and probably would have sent out quite a few new shoots had I covered the stem with soil like I was supposed to.

    Plants ready for harvest.

    Plants ready for harvest.

    This fall was really warm, so I let the plants stay in the grow bag for as long as possible. When the weather threatened to get chilly, I figured it was time to harvest and see what we had gotten.

    Almost a pound and a half of potatoes.

    Almost a pound and a half of potatoes.

    Considering all the problems that I encountered during this experiment, I think we got quite a bit of yield. We wound up with almost a pound and a half of varying sized potatoes (though none as large as they were supposed to be). The picture below shows all my little potatoes with a ruler so you can see what we got. A few of the potatoes had scaly skin which is completely benign, it just makes the potatoes less attractive.

    Potatoes with ruler.

    We wound up eating these potatoes in a batch of kale soup. They were delicious. This was pretty great learning experience. I think I’ll give growing potatoes in the grow bag another shot this year. I’ll be sure to keep them away from the tomatoes this time.



  2. Planting Potatoes: Part 3

    July 13, 2011 by Daniora

    I will admit, the potatoes got away from me a bit.

    Potatoes Before


    We had a few good weeks with the perfect mix of rain and sun and the plants just took off. So the time has come to add my first batch of dirt. For this round, I just added another few inches of soil on top of what was already there. For the next addition, I’ll be folding the top of the grow bag back up.

    Potatoes After

    All snuggled up in their new layer of dirt.

    The plants look great. There’s one that’s fallen behind a bit in height, and I’m kind of hoping he’ll catch up before I add more soil.

    The plants look really healthy, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get a good harvest out of this little bag. I’ve been worried about the potential for bugs. Fortunately, I’ve been pretty lucky. There are some little nibbles taken out of the leaves, but no visible pests. Well, except one little slug hanging out on the side of the bag.

    Tiny bites

    Tiny bites, no pests.


    An Unwelcomed Guest

    I’m hoping to get the next layer of soil put in the beginning of next week. I probably won’t do a full write up, but I’ll be sure to put up a quick post with a few pictures.

  3. Planting potatoes: Part 2

    May 27, 2011 by Daniora

    Now that the weather here has gotten significantly better and we are officially past the threat of frost (May 15th is the official day here), the time has come for my potato experiment to get underway.

    Bag folded ready for planting.The grow bag came from Gardener’s Supply Company. It’s a great alternative to plastic or ceramic pots if you intend to plant a bunch.  They fold completely flat for storage and are lightweight and porous.  I opted for the very festive “Poppy” color instead of basic black. The first step in the instructions is to fold it over about halfway down.  This is so the plants can get enough sun. It will later be folded up to add more dirt for the growing plants.  By burying the stems as it grow, the instructions claim that we’ll wind up with a bigger yield.

    For potting soil, I chose Miracle Grow Organic soil.  I didn’t really want anything with a whole bunch of chemicals since I’m growing food, not flowers.  I’ll admit, I’m not entirely pleased with the consistency of the soil.  There are a lot of fairly large wood chips mixed in. It looks a lot like compost that isn’t quite ready or that hasn’t been sifted sufficiently.  However, we soldier on and hope for the best.

    I’ve also made a major deviation from my original planting plan.  Instead of ordering seed potatoes, I picked up some plants from my local garden center.  I did this for a couple of reasons.  First, and probably most significantly, the seed potatoes were really only purchasable in large quantities.  This meant that a whole bunch of them would be going to waste.  If I were planting more than just this experimental grow bag, it may have been a cheaper option.  Secondly, here in New England, we have a notoriously short growing season.  This is particularly hard on fruits and vegetables. I figured that by buying plants that were already growing, I’d have that much of a head start.

    I do have a confession, though; I have no idea what variety of potatoes these are. So, when harvest time comes, we can all be surprised together.

    The instructions for using the bag say to put four inches of soil, add the seed potatoes, and cover them with an additional couple of inches of soil.  Since my plants are already sprouted, I put a good six inches of soil in the bag and planted my seedlings.  I gave them a good watering (it is hot out there today!) and they’re all set.  When the plants get eight inches tall, I’m supposed to add more soil, so I’ll be updating again then.

    Stay tuned!

  4. Planting potatoes: Part 1

    April 15, 2011 by Daniora

    I’ve grown up with gardening.  My parents have always had a garden.  I have fond memories of visiting my grandmother and picking vegetables in her huge garden or hiding in the greenhouse.  I’ve eaten green beans right off the vine, picked raspberries off of prickly bushes, and emptied pea pods. One thing that still fascinates me is growing potatoes.Potatoes

    I’m pretty sure we’ve all had potatoes slip to the back of the cabinet to be found later with large sprouts growing from the eyes.  The fact that this will lead to more potatoes boggles my mind.  We’ve never planted potatoes before, so this year I’ve decided to try it myself.

    Grow bags with potato plantsThe one problem is that sunny garden space is at a premium in our yard, so I have to find a way to grow them without taking up areas designated for other plants.  Fortunately, I got this article from Urban Sustainable Living newsletter. They recommend a method of growing potatoes in a grow bag.  Gardener’s Supply Company sells grow bags for a variety of different vegetables, including potatoes.  The beautiful thing about this method is that they can be put anywhere (and moved if they have to be). The bags come in multiple colors and sizes.  I’ve got a small poppy orange colored one picked out for myself.

    The other ingredient that I need to locate for this project is seed potatoes.  Yes, you can grow potatoes from ones that you buy at the grocery store, however things I’ve read say that getting actual seed potatoes will increase your likelihood of success.  As success is something we here at the Nerdly Home are rather fond of, that’s the route I’ll be going.  Unfortunately, the seed potatoes at Gardener’s Supply haven’t gotten the best reviews. I will be turning, instead, to one of my other favorite resources.  Jung Seeds and Plants.  In our house, the arrival of the Jung catalog is the real sign that spring is coming.

    Red seed potatoesFor my potato experiment, I’m going to go with the red seed potatoes. These have gotten high reviews and have apparently won awards at county fairs in Wisconsin.  I really like red potatoes for their versatility; I probably use them more than any other type of potato.  They are my favorite for roasting, using in soups, and for potato salad. Also, because of their smaller size, I think I’ll be able to get a higher potato yield from a smaller area.

    I’m really excited about this project and I can’t wait to see how everything goes.  I will certainly be posting updates on the potato progress as the season goes on.