Thursday, June 11, 2009

Potato Update

Gratuitous feverfew photo that has nothing to do with the story

It seems all the rage this year is growing your tomatoes upside down and growing your potatoes in bins. I didn't succumb to the first fad, but did for the second. Gardeners will try anything to increase their yields, even going so far as to build a condo to house the potatoes. A while back I built my bin. It seemed a bit rickety, but I liked its rustic look.

So far the bin has held up well. As more soil was added, the bin became solid. I didn't have much soil to add however, so started filling it with compost. Lots of compost. I had calculated that it would take a full cubic yard of material to fill the whole bin up. I've hauled 3/4 cu yd of compost to this bin. I'm almost there. The compost is running out. So is my desire to fill it all the way up.

Other people's blogs can be so distressing at times. I keep seeing photos of potato blossoms. I know the longer it takes to fill this dang thing up, the longer it will be before my potatoes start to blossom and form little potatoes under the soil. I see the plants try to expand. They reach for the sun (or clouds as has been much more typical of late) as I keep burying them deeper and deeper. I think it is time to let nature take its course. The potatoes were trenched before the bin was put on so they have a whole two feet to form potatoes.

Next year I'm building a smaller bin and I'm going to have some early ones in the ground like normal people do. Crazy potato condos just don't give impatient gardeners any immediate gratification. And yes, I'm very impatient to pick my potatoes. I'm guessing I've still got a couple of months to wait. Sigh.


  1. I like the rustic look of your potato bin, and how oxygen can get to the roots. My potatoes haven't flowered, either. I just don't understand it. Oh well....maybe there's taters under there.

  2. Not many of my potatoes have flowered, and none of the Yukon Golds. This is the first time I've planted them in a raised, enclosed bed. When I grew them in hills, I could scavenge for baby potatoes as soon as the plants blossomed, but I find I can't do that in the raised beds. Bummer...I love those baby ones!

    That feverfew sure is pretty. How tall does it get, and does it spread?

  3. You may not have blooms, Daphne, but your potatoes are so far ahead of my Maine potatoes that it makes me weep. Weep!

    I read somewhere that you can layer compost-able plant material into your potato towers. Have you ever tried that? It might take the pressure off loading all that finished compost. I'm curious to know what you always.

  4. Oh ...your potato bin looks awesome.
    I did not attempt potatoes this year but I am so tempted to get ready and plant them next year. I don't really have storage for lots of potatoes but what the heck - Ill give them away. It just looks like such fun!

  5. I've planted tomatoes in previous years, but just haven't this year. I like this structure that you have made...I think next year, I might try to replicate it with the bamboo that grows wild here...I am getting ready to do something with it for my beans!

  6. Your spuds have grown pretty tall already. Mine are only about 9" high and hilled about 6". I think your bin is an 'eco potato condo', the place all the trendy potatoes want to live. Mine is more the retirement villa of potato condo's :-)

    I started the compost bag potatoes so I have early ones. Next year I want to plant some in the bags really early if they work well.

  7. I just feel that if the good Lord wanted tomatoes to grow upside down that's exactly how He would have made them! Since He didnt make 'em thataway then I aint agrowin' em thataway!

    But now the potato bin is another thing all together. I love that idea. I looked high and low for seed potatoes here. Our rainy season is through the month of June so there is never really any push to get things early as the gardens are mud in the spring months. But I decided to get seed potatoes back In April and they were all sold out in March - everywhere! They said it was because of the economy; everyone was planting gardens. I was bummed!

  8. Oh I love your potato condo Daphne. It's so quaint with the branches & chickenwire. Hope you get a nice yield. :) I'm going to have to try my hand at potatoes next year.

  9. Months no I don't think so...from here they are looking very healthy Daphne :-)

    Greetings from Vaxholm


  10. No look, Daphne... You might not have potato flowers yet- but you are going to have to rent storage space for all the spuds that are going to fall out of that crazy potato growin' bin you've got there.

    BTW, how exactly are you going to get them out? Will you wait until the beds on one/either side are empty and then pull the soil over them? Scoop into a wheel barrow? I'm stumped!

  11. EG, I just hope the bin doesn't make them dry out and get scabby. But you never know until you try.

    Annie's Granny, the feverfew is about 18" tall. It has never spread for me, but it is supposed to be a prolific self seeder. So far I've had a few seedlings, but nothing like my lemon balm. BTW most feverfew that I've seen have single flowers that look a lot like chamomile. I put this one in specifically for its pretty little flowers (about a 1/2" across). They make great cut flowers, but I do need to give the plant just a little support or they flop over when in full bloom.

    June, true. I see people like EG and Granny that are in warmer zones than I have. I know that I won't get my harvest for a month after EG does, but I so want it.
    I'd be afraid of putting compostable materials in. If it were all carbon sources it should be fine, but if you add the nitrogen sources I think the plants would bake. My piles can get very very hot.

    Susan, thanks, I'm still contemplating where to store them. I think I might drill some holes in the sides of some 5 gallon pails and store them in that in my basement which stays in the 60s usually in the summer and 50s in the winter. I'll have to store my onions too which is another issue.

    islandgardener, oh how I wish I had bamboo in my back yard. Ok maybe not. I don't need an invasive plant. But I do wish I had a local source of bamboo that I could cut every year.

    Dan, lol yup locally sourced wood from 100' away. Just don't tell the potatoes that the chicken wire was shipped in.

    Mrs. Darling, yup I feel about the same way. It seems so unnatural. Not that I wouldn't try it if I could really increase my yields.

    Oh I had so much trouble finding seed potatoes. It was a real comedy of errors.

    perennialgardener, I hope so to. I havent' grown them before so we will see.

    Tyra, they are storage potatoes and I think take about 90 days to mature. I'm thinking it will be longer since I made them work their way up. They were planted April 28th. So if they take 90 days it will be the end of July. More likely I added a couple of weeks onto it and they will be the middle of August. But time will tell.

    Maggie, I'm hoping to have to rent storage space. I'm really not sure exactly how I will store them all, but I figure I have a little while to find out. Oh dear. I've thought about getting them out of the bin. The chicken wire on the bin can be unrolled from the outside (I hope. If not I'll cut out one side). So I should be able to get to one side of it. I'm just going to dig the dirt into a wheelbarrow (with a pail) just like it got there. It will be a slow and tedious process I'm guessing. I hope I get enough that they are worth all the effort.