Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Planting Potatoes 2014



People have all kinds of crazy ways to plant potatoes. And it makes sense, there are actually over 900 different varieties of potatoes that were developed in the Andes, grown at a wide variety of altitudes.
Today, only a handful of these show up on supermarket shelves, and a few dozen more varieties are found in farmer's markets or on small farms. People plant potatoes in ditches, mounds, old tires, vertical wooden planters...name any random object large enough to grow potatoes in and I'm sure someone has used it for potatoes.


Well, I'm no exception. Now that our last frosts have passed, its time to put my beautiful seed potatoes in the ground. Last year I constructed these wire cylinders from hardware cloth to grow potatoes in.


I made them in graduated sizes so they would stack together for space efficient storage.


When you grow potatoes in the ground they take up a lot of space. So as an urban gardener this year, I'm going vertical to save space. (Yes, I did make and use the containers last year at our old place, but I had a different set of reasons for using them there, namely a potato pest present in the soil of the main garden area).


Not only do these containers save space, they also make havesting easy. You just lift the cylinder and then pick the spuds out of the pile of dirt.


Like other vertical potato growing schemes, you add a few inches of soil to the bottom of the containers, add in your seed potatoes, then top off with more dirt. Once the plants begin to grow, you gradually add layers of dirt to the top. The newly immersed parts of the potato plant begin to develop tubers. By the end of the season you have a whole column of potatoes with the largest at the bottom and a bunch of little new potatoes at the top.


First I added some soil.


Then I dropped the potatoes in from the top. It's tricky to get even spacing since the cylinders are so tall I can't reach them once they're on the bottom to rearrange them. So I had to do strategic dropping from the top, then used a shovel to gently nudge around a few that needed adjustment.


Step three was covering with soil and watering.

Compared with digging a bed to plant, I have to say this method is really easy.


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