Friday, May 8, 2009

Saga of the Potato, Part II

If you read Part I, you will know I planted my potatoes on April 28th. I dug trenches to plant them in. As the potatoes grow I'll fill in the trenches then hill them up. Using this technique people say I will get about 10lbs of potatoes for each pound of seed potato I use. So I'd get 20 pounds of potatoes if things go well. Other people use the potato bin approach where you get a lot more, since potatoes can grow off of the buried stem.

More always sounds good to me. I'm way too lazy to make one of those fancy bins. Plus I really hate power tools. I avoid them whenever possible. Nor do I want to buy lumber. So in true Daphne's Dandelion fashion, I made do. I cut some saplings down in the woods - with a hand saw. The long sticks are four feet long and the short ones are two feet.

I hammered them together. Or I tried and couldn't get the nails through. So I drilled some starter holes and then hammered them together. These are the ends of the box. By this time I was sweating bullets. I would pick one of the hottest days of the year to build something.

Then I put the ends together and voila. A box. A under engineered box. My dad would be ashamed if he saw it. I hope it doesn't fall apart on me. I really do. The box was surrounded by some chicken wire that had been in my garage for eons. I thought about just using the chicken wire with no wood at all. It is how my compost bins are made (with larger mesh wire though). I thought about it and decided I didn't want a round potato patch in my rectangular bed.

As my potatos grow I'll fill it in with soil, compost, leaves or whatever the heck I can get my hands on. It will take about a cubic yard to fill. That is a lot of dirt and a lot of trips with my wheelbarrow. What will I do with it all when I take the bin apart? I can't use it in the bin again. The soil has to be rotated. I'd just spread it out on this bed, but really the bed is too high right now. So I'll cart the soil in, and then cart it out again. Maybe next year, I'll do a much smaller bin. 4'x4' is way too big. It blocks the wheelbarrow from going by and is a monstrosity. Next year something smaller. That easy small circular bin is looking good right now.


  1. I made my own version of the potato bin too, but I think I like yours better. It looks much neater and the air flow is probably better than using black plastic like I did. I only harvested a few potatoes last year, but I think I started with the wrong variety of potatoes. This year I lucked up on actual seed potatoes, so here's hoping that we both get a bumper crop.

  2. Wow! That's crafty!! I love it!! Can't wait to see follow-up posts when it's full of taters!

    How weird...the word verification for my comment is "dying" - egads. I hope that's not a bad omen for your potatoes! LOL

  3. I'm like 'n it, Daphne! Good way to use what you have :).

  4. Great work, Daphne. I wish you much success. I don't know if it's true, but I read in the Ronniger's Growing Guide that the cage method produces two to three times the yields of soil grown potatoes. Good luck!

  5. Cool, Daphne! And at least if you get a ton of potatoes they'll keep. Wonder if next year you could set it up by the similar-looking compost bins and fill half with soil, etc. and half with compost, then plant trailing winter squash or pumpkins in the compost half? (I think potatoes would get scab if planted in pure compost.) Then again, the pumpkin/squash vines would get so rampant they'd probably swamp the potatoes and your other bins, too! Guess I was just carried away...

  6. wow that is cool. i love the sticks as the frame.

  7. Your bin is very nice! I think natural looking things always look great in the veggie patch. I have not calculated how much earth my bin needs, mainly because of its odd shape. I am in trouble if it needs a cubic yard though! Do you know how to calculate an irregular bin?

  8. I love what you came up with Daphne! I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out the best way for me to grow potatoes as I do not think they will do well with our incredibly rocky and compacted soil. I'm in no mood for double digging either! ;) I think I might have to give your idea a try. Can't wait to read about how they do.

  9. I like it! It has a charmingly rustic look to it!

  10. Cheryl, So you had the opposite experience as I did. The world just gave you seed potatoes ;>

    Kate and Crew, I really hope it is full of taters. I'm finally home from vacation (the things I have to do in the garden!) and they still aren't up. I've become the impatient gardener.

    Tessa, Thanks.

    wormsandflowers, I'm hoping I get that much. It would be fun to get 40-60lbs of potatoes, but good lord what would I do with them all? I think I would need to get more pails.

    our friend Ben, oh I can't put it near those compost piles. They are in deep shade under my oak trees. I'm thinking I might be able to put a smaller one near my black bin compost though. I might do that next year.

    Josie, thanks.

    Dan, I like the rustic look too. Sure I can calculate an irregular bin. Send me the dimensions via email.

    Cynthia, I don't blame you for not wanting to double dig. The bin would be perfect for you. If you make a real bin (go to Dan's blog, you should see the pretty one he made) you can harvest easily too. Mine will be hard to harvest since I'll have to figure out how to disassemble it before I harvest.

    Sheila, thanks.