- How to Plant Potatoes in Straw.Container Planting.
- Growing Potatoes in Straw When Home Gardening
- Growing Season for Potatoes
- Who Started Growing Potatoes in Straw?
- Container Gardening Growing Potatoes in Straw
- Planting Potatoes in Straw in the Garden
- Potatoes Sprout Quickly
- Mound Additional Straw on Growing Potato Plants
- Harvesting Potatoes Grown in Straw
- Ye Olde Wives Tale:
- A Few Potato Facts
- Growing Potatoes Under Straw Mulch
- Problems with Growing Potatoes Under Straw Mulch
- How to Grow Potatoes Under Straw Mulch
- Harvesting Potatoes Grown Under Straw Mulch
- After Cropping Straw Mulched Potatoes
- Potato Growing Articles
- Straw Bale Gardening: Potatoes
- Planting Potatoes in Straw.
- Tips For Growing Potatoes In Straw
- Tips for Planting Potatoes in Straw
- Growing Potatoes in Straw: A Labor-Saving/Better Harvest Technique
- A Primer on the “Traditional Method”
- A New and Improved Method
How to Plant Potatoes in Straw.Container Planting.
The fella sometimes travels for work.
On his last walkabout a few years ago the fella headed to Saskatchewan where he lived for 6 months, flying home every 16 days. He lived in a typical, small Prairie town. How small? I went to visit him once and he wouldn’t let me carry my purse to the town restaurant/bar/variety store/video rental place. Apparently carrying a purse, or anything other than a hoof pick, would have immediately pegged me as an outsider. It would have been “embarrassing”. To carry a purse. Into a restaurant/bar/variety store/video rental place.
So I didn’t. Because I’m nothing if not accommodating. Plus, you’ve never seen anyone pitch a fit like the fella when he gets worked up.
On this same trip, in this same town, the fella went into the grocery store/garden centre/travel agency to pick up a few things for dinner. He was making meatloaf and he wanted mashed potatoes with it. So he grabbed a few potatoes and took them up to the cash. Thelba, or whatever her name was, started to ring him up and asked him how long he was planning on staying in town. He said he wasn’t sure, but he wanted to get home to make dinner. Thelba said “You aren’t plannin’ on eatin’ them potatoes are ya? Them there are seed potatoes fella.” To which the fella replied, Yeah, yeah. Seed potatoes. Whatever. Ring ’em up. Thelba then explained to the fella They’re for crops. For planting. She was very nice about it apparently, but I’m sure all the while Thelba was thinking, “Holy shit Mr. City, all you’re missing is the purse”.
And that is my seed potato story.
SO! You wanna plant potatoes but you don’t have any room? You only have a balcony? Most of your yard real estate is taken up by decorative Gnomes and a shuffleboard court? No problem.
You can plant potatoes in half bushel baskets, with 6″ of dirt and a bunch of straw.
And here’s how …
The first thing you have to do is get yourself seed potatoes. You can get them this time of year at garden centres, seed stores and sometimes even hardware stores carry them. Seed potatoes have been guaranteed to be disease free. If you buy potatoes from the grocery store that happen to grow eyes, you aren’t guaranteed they’ll be disease free and grow into nice healthy potatoes. But … chances are they will.
Howevever, I want to know EXACTLY what kind of potato I’m growing so I bought a variety of interesting certified seed potatoes.
One of the varieties I’m growing are French Fingerlings. They’re long, small fingerling potatoes with a pink swirl inside.
Just for fun, I’m also growing a batch of Russian Blue potatoes. They’re one of the varieties with the blue, almost black skin.
Most exciting, is the fact that the inside is the same colour! I’m so excited about growing these I could cry. I’m potato geeking out over these.
I’m also growing Yukon Golds and the most perfect potato ever made, The Kennebec.
Once you get your seed potatoes, you need to cut them. Depending on the size of the potato, you’ll cut them into half or even 3 or 4 times. You want to make sure each chunk of potato has at least 2 eyes. If the potato is small, just leave it without cutting it.
Then let your potatoes heal for a few days. Some people say 2 days others say a week. I’ll leave it up to you. The cuts need to scab over so they don’t rot or get bacteria/disease in them when you plant them. So make sure you cut them several days before you plan to plant them. After a week … they’ll look all grody. Like this.
Now’s the fun part. Planting. Fill your half bushel basket (ask at your grocery store or farmer’s market for them) with 6 inches of soil. I used half compost and half CONTAINER SOIL. Not, garden soil! Whenever you’re planting in a container … you should use container soil.
Push your seed potatoes (I’m going with 3 of them in the basket) half way into the soil.
Then push the soil back over them, so they’re halfways down in the dirt. Give them a good water and leave them. Like most vegetables, they need 6-8 hours of sun a day.
Stick them anywhere you have space and sunlight. If you just have a balcony stick them out there. If you have a yard that only gets sun on one side in the morning and sun on the other side in the afternoon, these containers are light enough you can just move them throughout the day.
After a week or two, you’ll see the potato plants starting to grow out, above the soil. Let them grow until there’s about 6″ – 8″ of growth sticking up. Then it’s time to “hill” them. You can either do this with more container soil and compost OR you can use partially decomposed straw. The reason it’s better to use partially decomposed straw is because you’ll be able to smash it down tighter than fresh straw. You don’t want a lot of air pockets, you want to use a LOT of straw and smash it down.
To hill potatoes just fill in around all the stems and lower leaves of the potatoes with your soil or straw. Only the top set of leaves should be showing when you’re done.
When the potatoes have grown another 6″ – 8″, hill them again.
I plan to test all the potato planting methods this year. I’m doing them in half bushel baskets with straw, like you see here, I’m doing them in half bushels with all soil, and the traditional potato planting method of trenches and then hilling them in a regular garden bed.
Potatoes are fine to plant in cool weather so if you’re in Southern Ontario or a similar Zone 5/6 climate … now’s the time to plant potatoes! I have a LOT of potato planting ahead of me. But for now, I’m getting kindda hungry. I’m thinking of making meatloaf for dinner tonight. With some nice mashed potatoes. As luck would have it, I happen to be out of potatoes, so I’ll have to run to the store to get some. And yes. I am going to carry my purse.
Growing Potatoes in Straw When Home Gardening
Download zone chart here!
Easy tips for growing potatoes in straw layers when home vegetable gardening.
Learn how to plant, care for, and harvest potatoes grown in straw in container gardens, or backyard vegetable gardens.
Potatoes are one of the easier vegetables to grow in your garden. So let’s get started…
Design Your Own Vegetable Garden Layout Using our Free “Vegetable Garden Planner” Software!
Growing Season for Potatoes
Potatoes need a frost-free growing season of 90-120 days.
Use our zone chart to help determine frost-free dates for your region.
If ever in any doubt about when to plant or sow, the best advice you will get is from a neighboring gardener.
When it comes to second guessing a late frost, it depends on your local conditions, such as how far north, how high up, and how far from sea you live.
If your potatoes are already up when a late frost is forecast, cover them with newspapers, a thick layer of straw, or other kind of protection.
Who Started Growing Potatoes in Straw?
The method of growing potatoes in straw was used in Scandinavia for centuries. My guess for the advent of this practice would be that the ground was too frozen there to plant the potatoes at the desired time! This way the spuds are kept warm in the straw or other mulching material. The straw helps keep the soil about 10 degrees warmer. Pick a garden site that gets full sun. Turn over the garden bed at least once so the soil is loose. Potatoes need well-drained, fertile soil that is high in organic matter.
Container Gardening Growing Potatoes in Straw
Put about 6 inches of compost enriched fertile soil in the bottom of a large container.
Some gardeners use a wooden half-barrel, an old truck or tractor tire, or any other large container.
Lay the seed potatoes on top of the soil. Cover them with 4-5 inches of straw.
After the potatoes sprout, and have grown to about 8″ tall, add another layer of straw 1/2 the way up the stems.
Repeat this several times until the straw reaches the top of the container.
Planting Potatoes in Straw in the Garden
Plant certified disease-free seed pieces on the surface of the soil in rows a foot apart and cover with loose straw.
Each piece must have at least one eye.
Place straw between the rows 6 inches deep.
As the seed pieces begin growing, the potato sprouts will peek through the straw cover.Weeding and watering are the main maintenance requirements for growing potatoes in straw.
Potatoes Sprout Quickly
You will see the potato growth sprout quickly.
Once the sprouts have grown about six inches, cover them with additional straw until only an inch of the new growth appears.
Then allow the plants to grow another six inches.
Keep repeating this procedure for a few more cycles.
If there is not much rainfall in your area, be certain to keep the soil evenly moist.
Mound Additional Straw on Growing Potato Plants
As the potato vines begin to grow, mound up additional straw or mulch around the base of the plants.
Mulching results in a yield of clean tubers.
New potatoes can be harvested before the potato vines completely mature.
Simply lift up the layers of straw, remove some potatoes, and replace straw.
Harvesting Potatoes Grown in Straw
Harvest time is a breeze when growing potatoes in straw.
The sight of flowers blooming gives you a heads up that there are new potatoes underneath the straw.
Harvesting is as simple as reaching in and pulling the potatoes out.
If you prefer bigger spuds, simply permit the plants to die, and the potatoes will be ripe for picking a couple of weeks after the vine dies.
Ye Olde Wives Tale:
In the olden days, potatoes carried in a pocket were widely thought a cure for rheumatism, especially if the taters had been stolen. As the spud dries and hardens, it supposedly draws from the sufferer uric acid from the body which is the root of the pain.
A Few Potato Facts
Americans eat over thirty pounds of potatoes each year per person, 25 percent of which is French fries! Growing potatoes in straw is an easy vegetable gardening alternative to planting the tubers underground. This technique saves you from needing to dig up the tasty taters at harvest time.
When you sprout a potato, you are encouraging early growth. Before planting, rub off all but the two strongest sprouts. Many gardeners believe that vegetables should be planted on specific dates for the best growth and flavor. Tradition has it that potatoes should be planted on Good Friday, but as that is a movable feast day it is not advisable to observe this conventional date religiously.
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Growing Potatoes in Straw to Growing Potatoes
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Growing Potatoes Under Straw Mulch
Growing potatoes under straw mulch is much favoured by organic gardeners using a no-dig system. Sadly, ‘no-dig’ does not mean ‘no-work’ but this can be an easy way to obtain a clean crop of potatoes.
If you can get hold of a supply of straw that has not been treated with a selective herbicide (usually organic) at a reasonable price it’s worth considering growing potatoes under straw mulch but do be aware of the potential problems below.
Problems with Growing Potatoes Under Straw Mulch
One large drawback to this system in my experience, it seems to attract slugs. If you have a heavy slug population then you are going to have to take measures to protect the crop from them.
The other drawbacks to this system are that the plants are more vulnerable to frost and wind. Because of frosts you may not be able to plant as early as your neighbours using conventional methods.
Laying horticultural fleece over the straw potato mulch will certainly help if the weather turns cold and ensuring the fleece is held in place will also stop the mulch from being blown off in a storm.
If the straw has been treated with a selective herbicide then the straw mulch may poison your potatoes and your plot.
Some gardeners report a reduced yield with this method although others feel the yield of undamaged, first-quality tubers with clean skins is increased.
Some weeds, particularly bindweed, thrive under the mulch.
How to Grow Potatoes Under Straw Mulch
You start by hoeing off the soil, removing any perennial weed roots to achieve a clean surface. Then spread well rotted manure or good compost over the soil, aiming for at least 5cm depth.
Standard Spacing For Potatoes
- First & Second Earlies 30cm apart in rows 60cm apart
- Maincrop 40cm apart in rows 75cm apart
If you haven’t any manure or compost, then break up the surface by lightly forking and then apply some proprietary potato fertiliser or even a general purpose fertiliser like fish, blood and bone. Potatoes do need feeding well to produce a good crop.
Just lay your seed potatoes on the surface at the normal spacing and cover with 5cm of straw. As the potatoes start growing you may need to help the foliage through the straw.
Some French trials indicate that planting the seed potatoes about 8 cm deep, about half normal planting depth, results in improved yields.
Top up with more straw as they grow and when the straw mulch is about 20cm thick, cover with a thick layer of grass clipping or partially rotted leaves. This will stop any light getting to the tubers and help hold the straw in place in case of windy weather.
If tubers do appear through the mulch, just add more straw to keep them covered. Care must be taken or you could find exposed tubers going green and inedible.
As with conventionally grown potatoes, ensure you water well in dry periods. Feeding with dry fertiliser is more difficult but liquid feeds can be applied after the potatoes are straw mulched.
Harvesting Potatoes Grown Under Straw Mulch
With your first early potato crops, you will find you can just move the straw aside, pick your potatoes for a meal and leave the rest to grow on. Harvesting is certainly far easier than with the conventionally grown system. No digging, just move the mulch aside and pick up the crop.
After Cropping Straw Mulched Potatoes
The mulch can go onto the compost heap along with the haulm, providing balancing ‘browns’ to the ‘greens’ in your compost.
Alternatively the straw can be dug or rotavated into the soil to add humus. This will deplete nitrogen in the short term so balance with fertiliser if planting a follow on crop.
Often potatoes are used to break in new plots. The thing is it is the conventional cultivation that breaks up the soil. Surface planting on compacted, poor soil – especially clay soils – will most often result in very poor crops.
Potato Growing Articles
- Growing Potatoes Overview – How to Grow Potatoes Guide
- Growing Potatoes – Standard Traditional Method
- Growing Potatoes Under Straw Mulch
- Growing Potatoes Under Black Plastic (Polythene) Sheet
- Potato Growing in Raised Beds & Ridge Planting Potatoes
- Growing Potatoes in a Barrel – Patio Growing Potatoes
- Growing Potatoes in Bags | Greenhouse Potatoes
- Second Crop Autumn Planted Christmas New Potatoes
- Can you chit supermarket potatoes?
- Potato Varieties for Flavour -Boiled Baked Roasted Mashed
- Potato Fertiliser Program Program & (NPK) Requirements
- Potato Blight Cause, Identification. Prevention, Treatment Potato Blight
- Wireworm in Potatoes Cause Identification Prevention Control Potato Wireworm
- Eelworm Potato Cyst Nematode – Control Potato Eelworm
- Dry Rot in Potatoes Cause Identification Prevention Control of Potato Dry Rot
- Potato Scab – Common Scab in Potatoes
- Potato Scab – Powdery Scab in Potatoes
- Hollow Heart, Splitting & Spraing Potatoes
- White Spots on Potatoes Lenticels & Potato Stem Rot
- Growing Potatoes for Show, Introduction & Best Varieties
- Growing Potatoes for Show, Cultivation of Show Potatoes
- Growing Potatoes for Show Harvest & Showing Potatoes
- Harvesting Potatoes Guide
- Storing Potatoes Guide
- Potatoes from the Allotment Shop
Position the hay bales in an area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day. Full day sun is preferred. Because the potatoes grow inside the hay bale, the bale can be positioned in areas where the soil is unsuitable for gardening or even on top of paved areas. However, water does drain from the bottom of the bale, so choose an area where this is not an issue.
Prep the Bales
Saturate the hay or straw bales with water until it runs freely from the bottom of the bale. Repeat this procedure on days two and three. On the fourth day, sprinkle 1 cup of bone meal over the top of the bales and water thoroughly. Repeat the procedure for days five and six. On days seven, eight and nine, reduce the bone meal to ½ cup and water as usual. On day ten, sprinkle the bales with ½ to 1 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer and water thoroughly. This speeds the decomposition process inside the hay bale and creates rich compost for growing.
Check the Bales
Make holes in the hay bale by gently pulling the layers of hay open. Check that the inside of the bale is warm, but not hot. During decomposition, the insides heat as they begin to break down, but it should have cooled off by day 10. If the center feels hot to the touch, wait another day or two before planting the potatoes
Plant the Potatoes
Cut the potatoes in two or more sections with at least two eyes on each section. Place the cut potatoes inside the bale to a depth of 4 to 6 inches spaced 6 to 12 inches apart along the hay bale. Typically, four potato plants fit in one bale. Close the hay over the potatoes.
Water thoroughly until water runs freely from the bottom of the hay bale. The hay bales must be kept moist and may require daily watering. Running a soaker hose over the top or filling milk cartons with water and punching small holes in the bottom for water to drip onto the bales works well.
Apply water-soluble fertilizer designed for garden vegetables once a week. Because nutrients leach from the bottom of the hay bale, regular fertilizer is necessary to provide growing potato plants with the nutrients they need.
Check for “new potatoes” once the potato plants bloom. Gently pull back the layers of hay and harvest young potatoes. Close the layers and allow small potatoes to continue to grow. Harvest mature potatoes in the fall once foliage dies back.
Potatoes grown in hay bales a clean and free of soil, but the best part is the ability to harvest tender new potatoes as soon as they “set on” without disturbing the roots of the plants.
Straw Bale Gardening: Potatoes
My gardening season is just beginning but for many of you the season has been underway. I am finalizing my recession garden plans and moving onto my square foot garden designs.
photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
The one thing I like about square foot gardening is that you can always add a garden later in the season if you find you have more plants to plant or want to add an additional mini garden. This season a have a small curved straw bale garden, tiered straw bale garden and a straw bale square garden, which is perfect for heavy feeding crops.
But one question I am asked a lot is about roots crops. Normally you do not plant root crops in straw bales. But I do have a straw planting technique for potatoes that is perfect for me. It saves space, time and the backache from digging up potatoes. I love gardening – but I do not like digging root crops!
Planting Potatoes in Straw.
Get your potatoes seeds ready. I cut the potatoes, leaving several eyes on each piece and let them dry for about two days before I plant them. During this time find some decent soil, and a container. I often use a bushel basket for my first crop.
Note: your container can be as large as you want. I usually go for a bushel basket or smaller garbage can. I have used old wood crates (check for stains that could be toxic). Also make sure the container has drainage holes.
Once you have your container place it in the spot you plan to leave it during the growing season. The location you choose should get six to eight hours of sun. Add 6 inches of dirt to the bottom of the container; place the potato seeds in the soil and cover. Water well and go plant more of your garden.
In about a week you will see new growth coming out of the ground. When the growth is about 6 inches tall, cover with straw. Repeat this process during the summer.
The potatoes will set out new roots in the straw and in turn will produce more potatoes. I save time, space and digging using this method. There are two other added benefits. Since the potatoes grow in straw they are dirt free and very clean. The other benefit is that I don’t get potato bugs using this method.
The only problem I had was one year I grow them in the garden with no container and used hay. It was a big mistake. The hay attracted mice looking for seeds and I lost most of the crop.
One other plus to growing potatoes using straw and a container, you always have small potatoes to use and they are very easy to harvest, just pull the straw back and pick them. I also grow a new crop of potatoes mid summer.
Try growing potatoes in straw. I think you will enjoy it. This growing process really saves space and makes growing potatoes fun.
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Tips For Growing Potatoes In Straw
If you want to grow potatoes in straw, there are proper, old-fashioned ways to do it. Planting potatoes in straw, for instance, makes for easy harvesting when they are ready, and you won’t have to dig into the hard ground to get them.
You might be asking yourself, “How do I grow potatoes in straw?” First, you start by picking a garden area that gets full sunlight. You want the soil to be loose, so turn it over once and work in some fertilizer to help the potatoes grow.
Tips for Planting Potatoes in Straw
To grow a potato plant in straw, be sure the seed pieces and rows are spaced the same way they would be if you were to cultivate your potatoes the conventional way. However, the seed pieces are only planted on the surface of the soil when planting potatoes in straw.
After you plant the seed pieces, put loose straw over the pieces and between all the rows at least 4-6 inches (10-15 cm.) deep. When the seed pieces start growing, your potato sprouts will emerge through the straw cover. You don’t have to cultivate around the potatoes when growing potatoes in straw. Just pull out any weeds you run across if they appear.
When you grow potatoes in straw, you’ll see the sprouts quickly. Once they have grown 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.), cover them with more straw until only an inch (2.5 cm.) of the new growth shows through, then let the plants grow another 4 to 6 inches.
Growing potatoes in straw isn’t difficult; they do all the work. Keep repeating this procedure for two or three more cycles. If there isn’t much rain, be sure to water the plants regularly.
When growing potatoes in straw, harvest time is easy. When you see flowers, you’ll know there will be small new potatoes under the straw. Reach in and pull some out! If you prefer bigger potatoes, growing potatoes in straw is a great way to get them. Simply let the plants die off, and once they die, the potatoes are ripe for the picking.
Planting potatoes in straw is a great way to grow potatoes because the straw helps keep the soil about 10 degrees warmer than it would be if it were exposed. Growing potatoes in straw is a wonderful, old-fashioned way of growing potatoes.
Follow the directions from your particular growing areas when you want to know when to plant potatoes in straw. Every area has a different growing cycle.
Growing Potatoes in Straw: A Labor-Saving/Better Harvest Technique
As a preparedness-minded person (& chief cook / bottle-washer), I often evaluate foods based on their shelf-life, ability to fill the eater up, adaptability in cooking, and how well they can extend the meal. Potatoes really are winners in these ways.
If properly stored (in a cool, dark, somewhat humid place), they can last months and then the remaining ones can be used as seed potatoes for the following year’s planting. A food source for “fresh” eating and a seed crop for the future- pretty good.
Potatoes are well-known for being filling. One of our regular rotations on the meal calendar is stuffed baked potatoes. Any number of things can be “stuffed” inside them, from healthy broccoli to hearty chili.
The humble spud can be cooked in a myriad of ways at any meal. Breakfast hashbrowns, homefries, scalloped, mashed, and on and on. They can take center-stage as the main course or be content to be merely a side-dish.
One of the best aspects of potatoes from a preparedness standpoint is that they really help extend a meal. I’ve heard tales of women “just adding another potato to the stew” when extra hungry mouths showed up during hard times. Not more meat, of course, but another potato to fill another stomach. When we eat stuffed baked potatoes, in the winter we often open just one large can of chili to spread over them and top with some cheese. That’s pretty economical.
Nutritionally, they are pretty good too. With their “jackets” on, they are high in potassium and Vitamin C. They’ve gotten a bad rap in recent decades because of the way most of them are eaten these days- skinless and fried. Of course, we are interested in getting the most nutritional bang for our buck too, so we’d plan to eat them prepared in the healthiest way.
As preppers, we should be giving more consideration to how potatoes may fit in our food plans. That brings me to my present topic- a different way to grow them.
A Primer on the “Traditional Method”
Most of us know that the edible part of the potato plant is the tuber that grows below ground. Traditionally, you put a “seed potato” (a chunk at least 1″ x 1″ with a sprouting “eye”) in the ground and covered it with dirt. As a new plant emerged, you continuously mounded dirt over it, leaving only a bit peaking out. All underground parts would form tubers.
At the end of the season, you had to very carefully dig away the dirt to get the potatoes out of the ground. I found this part to be so aggravating. After months of carefully mounding the dirt and watering, a fair number of the potatoes were always pierced by garden fork or shovel. Some could be washed and used immediately for dinner, but far too few were left to store and save for seed potatoes.
A New and Improved Method
A couple of years ago, I began to see articles about growing potatoes in straw. That was very intriguing. After more doing more research and reading anecdotes from all over, we have decided to try this method ourselves this year. According to many of these folks, you not only don’t have the problem of ruining the potatoes as you dig them up, but the harvests are much better.
We have some sturdy old plastic bins around that we have decided to re-purpose as our potato gardens. Being that this is an experiment, I only purchased a few pounds of organic seed potatoes for this trial. As mentioned in previous posts, we are starting raised beds this year and I am “great with child” again (due in June), so I didn’t want to put too many new irons in the fire.
I first put several sections of non-slick/non-color newspaper on the ground beneath where the potatoes would go. (This was to block out weeds from below.) Then I pinned the paper in place with the plastic boxes. I made mounds of “good dirt” (compost and peat moss) and placed the seed potatoes in them and covered them with more dirt. I sprinkled organic bone meal on the soil also, since it helps in the formation of tubers. (You do not want to add much nitrogen or you’ll get lots of leaves on the plants, but fewer tubers). Then I piled straw over top of them in the bins.
As the plant tops grow through, we will add more straw (rather than covering with dirt). We always had a problem in our traditional row garden with having enough dirt to continue to rake up the mounds of growing potatoes (and after a certain height, it just wanted to tumble back down or wash off with the next rain). With high-sided bins and lots of old straw around, we hope to address this problem too.
We’ve had a pretty bad Colorado potato beetle problem in years past. I think I will try planting marigolds and nasturtiums in the bins with the potatoes. They have helped with bean beetles and squash bugs, so maybe they will deter those ugly brown and yellow potato beetles too.
The only real issue I can see with regards to this method in our fairly warm climate is that the potato plants may get too hot. They are considered a “cool weather” crop, meaning they tolerate cooler temperatures better than hot. That’s why they thrive in places like Idaho. We’ve had good crops in-ground in years past. I’m wondering if they will get too hot this year without soil around them. On the flip side, the straw will be mostly shaded by the high sides of the bin. We’ll have to see how it goes.
At the conclusion of the season, we will tip the bins over and pull the straw away. Hopefully, we will reach right into the straw and harvest a couple hundred pounds of perfect potatoes (at least those are the yields some people claim).
There are some other versions of this method. One is to use old tires and stack them. Plant the seed potatoes in one on the ground. Toss straw over them as the plants grow and add another tire. Keep going until you run out of tires or time. Since all the covered plant is supposed to produce tubers (as long as they get sufficient water), you get a vertical growing space that can produce far more potatoes than a plant limited by the lower height of the dirt mound in the garden.
Another possibility I’ve seen is literally to plant the potatoes in the midst of stacked straw bales, adding as you go (like with the tires).
I’m excited about this less-work method of growing spuds. At the end of the season, I’ll report back about how they turned out.
Ever grown potatoes this way? Any pointers? Please share in the comments section.
- Raised Bed Gardening, part 1
- The Benefits of a Root Cellar
- Protecting Your Food Storage, part 1
- Stocking the Pantry
Potato tire tower photo by Bonzai Aphrodite
We’ve bemoaned the tragedy of eating non-organic potatoes (see: “The Seven Foods Safety Experts Won’t Eat” and “Potato, Potahto”) A pack of organic potato seeds will run you about $3.50 and will provide you with pounds upon pounds of this vegetable. But what if you’re tight on space for growing your veggies? We’ve found a solution. Check out this Instructables entry on growing potatoes in old tires.
means that when you receive your seed potatoes in around February, you place them in a light, dry environment, but out of direct sunlight (a north facing window sill is a good place) and wait for small shoots to grow from the eye of the potato, which should be facing up. When looking at a potato, you will notice that one end will usually have more eyes than the other end, this is called the rose end. Early potatoes need to be chitted before being planted, while maincrop varieties don’t absolutely need it but will benefit from being chitted before being planted.
If growing potatoes in tires, first chose a sunny spot in your garden or balcony. Ensure there is drainage below the tire, as potatoes don’t like getting water-logged, though they do need sufficient water for the tubers to form.
Early potatoes can be planted at the end of March, while maincrop potatoes are usually planted in April, at the latest at the beginning of May. The main aspect affecting planting time is frost. Potatoes are only half-hardy and any frost will kill off emerging plants.
Fill the tire with damp earth to just over half the depth and place 4 – 5 seed potatoes in it, with the eye or shoots facing up. Cover with a couple of inches of soil. In this example, we have used seed potatoes for a maincrop which have not been chitted.