Free Garden Plan: Root Veggies

by Daisy

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The cool thing about this plan, other than the companion planting and spacing, is the use of our “tater boxes” which temporarily deepen any raised bed–allowing your to do this in a new bed next year.

You will need:

1 electric drill or hammer
4 – 2×8 boards, 4ft long each
12 deck screws or nails

24 – 1×6 boards, 2 ft long (I just used fence pickets cut into thirds)
48 – smaller screws or nails

(If you have no idea what I just said, walk into the lumbers section at Depot or Lowe’s and hand them the above list. They can make it all happen.)

1 small roll of weed blanket (any kind)
8 – 1 ft bags of potting soil
8 bags of at least 5 different composts (This guy says so.)
2 red seed potatoes (enough to count four eyes)
2 white seed potatoes (enough to count four eyes)
4 sweet potato slips/plants
1 bunch onion sets
1 pkg carrot seeds
1 pkg cracker jack BIG marigolds (3ft)
1 pkg basil seeds or one basil plant

1. On your driveway, screw(nail) together your boards in a square. Don’t worry about how crooked the screws are or how maimed the heads of the nails end up. Just make the boards stick together in a square-type shape long enough for you to get it to the back yard.

2. Build your tater boxes the same way with the smaller nails/screws.

3. In a sunny location, lay down your square. Cut a big enough piece of weed blanket or layer it to cover the bottom of your square. Figure out where North is. You’ll be planting all your big stuff on that side.

3. Mix all your dirt and compost on a tarp.

4. Fill up box with dirt to an inch or two from the top. Water till it’s damp all the way through.

5. Evenly space 2 of your wooden squares atop of your freshly damp dirt on the South side of your garden (to make sweet potato and carrot boxes).  Fill them with dirt and then water them.

6. With your finger, divide your boxes according to the dotted lines.

7. Cut your seed potatoes into chunks with at least one eye. Bury them in their corresponding spots about an inch deep. Put two marigold seeds in the center of each potato box.

8. Transplant the sweet potatoes.

9. Poke 1/2″ deep holes in your carrot/onion box according to the diagram. Put one onion set or two carrot seeds in each hole. Plunk a couple of basil seeds (or plant) in the center.

10. Water every other day for a week, and as needed after that.

As your potatoes grow, (not sweet potatoes, mind you, the other taters)  stack on a couple of tater boxes and gradually fill with dirt to keep them buried to the gizzard.  When they out grow those boxes, add the remaining two boxes and fill those with the remaining dirt.

WHY, you ask??  Potatoes don’t grow directly under the plants. They also shoot off the sides, so the more plant you ‘hill up’, the more potatoes your get!

Your marigolds like to root off their big, honkin’ stems too, so they should hang pretty well with the burying and keep scaring off those bugs.

I hope this is as fun for you as it is for me!


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

rowena___. June 12, 2009 at 11:27 am

oh excellent, thank you! so should we wait and plant these next spring, or can we go ahead and do it now? my husband would be so thrilled to have homegrown sweet potatoes for thanksgiving!

Debbie June 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I’m usually a lurker, but here in the south (NW Florida) sweet potatoes are best grown throughout the summer. This is my first year growing them and because they spread, they’re going into a spot in my front yard that is usually neglected. I might try these in the fall, as well and see if they will do for me then, too.

I love this blog, btw, I found it while surfing the net for soaping websites. Good luck with the goats, I had one, but my neighbors’ dogs tore into him. He was a little guy like your two and sweet as could be. Because of that incident, I learned that we’re not allowed to have them here in my neighborhood. Environmental Protection was called in because I filed a complaint about the dogs and I had to find a new home for Gus or get a fine of about $1200.00. Thankfully, the EP guy didn’t say a thing to me about my chickens.

Thanks, also, for the terrific info on companion planting. I’m all about doing things in a natural way, if at all possible. Now if only there were a natural way to corral and repel mosquitoes!

Have a great day,


Lynnette June 12, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Thanks for the planting guide. I have a question though. I have grown slips from store bought sweet potatoes and I have seen sweet potato vine at greenhouses but they all seem to be more decorative then for growing food. Any more advice about buying sweet potato slips?

Mother Hen June 12, 2009 at 1:23 pm

The new feed is workin’ like a charm! Thrilled I was to see you in the line up on my reader this morning!

Eusebia June 12, 2009 at 1:36 pm

I love your garden plans! I’m going to print them out and paste them in a notebook to use some day when I have a garden of my own. Thanks for sharing!

Erin June 12, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Love it…now I’m trying for buy=in from Superman! Thanks!

Eleanor June 12, 2009 at 6:30 pm

I really like your plan. Very organized. When should I plant this for a Fall harvest, here in Kansas City? It’s just starting to get hot, and since this is my first year here, I’m not too sure about when to plant things.

ivorysoap76 June 12, 2009 at 7:17 pm

I would call my local nursery and ask them if you can still plant seed potatoes. Sweet potatoes should be fine anytime after the last frost.

ivorysoap76 June 12, 2009 at 7:21 pm


ivorysoap76 June 12, 2009 at 7:27 pm

@Eusebia –I should make a notebook too! HA! I waited to late so I could only do the lower half of this plan in my own garden. Next year!

@ Lynnette –Yes, I do. The chartreuse vines at the green house are ornamental. Depot, and the like, are selling the real thing in little six packs this year in the garden section. But, really the best thing to do is to go to the farms supply or feed store and get the wad of 100 for $5. They usually hang out in five gallon bucket this time of year.

@Debbie –That is the saddest thing I’ve heard all day. I’m sorry. Glad you can keep your chickens. And I’m afraid the ‘natural’ end of my insect repellent is over with regards to my squash. Eaten up with borers! Ah well. Even the 98% organic folks in town ‘dust’ the squash.

rhonda jean June 13, 2009 at 9:58 pm

I couldn’t get your tater box links to work. I have grown potatoes in wire cages but never in boxes – same idea, different materials, I suppose. Could you post photos of your boxes?

ivorysoap76 June 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm

@rhonda jean–I think fixed it. Thank you for pointing that out! But, here’s the link anyway.
It’s very much the same idea as growing in wire cages. You just keep stacking boxes as the potatoes get taller. The difference between my boxes and the others I’ve seen on the net is that mine aren’t permanent and are intended to be moved each year from bed to bed. TL says that I should put 2×2’s in the corners to stabilize them, but I’m living life on the edge…

Rick Hamell June 15, 2009 at 8:18 pm

I’m using the old tire trick to grow potatoes. But, I think I’ll start using them in this plan instead of your tater boxes. They’ll still be portable, and they’re seem to be a bit stabler.

ivorysoap76 June 16, 2009 at 6:37 am

@ Rick–Yeah, I’m not doing any white potatoes this year (By the time hubby decided not to be on low-carb, it was too late to plant), but when I do them next year, I’ll probably take TL’s advice and put 2×2 posts in all the corners….or gets some tires. Like I told another commenter, I had just put in a short fence for my goats, so I had eighty 1.65ft boards. My garden looks CRAZY.

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