Potatoes Are In

by Daisy

A couple of years ago I tried the potatoes in a bin method, but had no luck with it.  The plants grew fine, even blossomed well, but when I dumped them out once the plants had withered, I had only a few pitiful little potatoes to show for it.  It was a complete failure after a lot of hopeful anticipation.

But such is gardening.  Lots of flops, but we keep trying.  I think it’s because the small successes outweigh the failures.  Sort of the opposite of a lot of the rest of life, like if one person calls you stupid, you remember that more than if 100 people tell you how clever you are.

In gardening, optimism reigns.

This year I put thirty or so seed potatoes in the ground in one long row.

I laid them in a shallow trench and covered them over with loose mulch.  I can hill them up a bit as they grow.

I’ll post pictures as they make their appearance above the soil and hope this year’s crop is a considerable improvement over my first experiment.

I think potatoes are very clever, and not stupid at all.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan March 2, 2011 at 11:07 am

The most common reason for healthy vines and no potatoes is too much nitrogen. So avoid compost with manure or coffee grounds, especially.

Tanya Walton March 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Where abouts are you in the world?? It is still way too cold for me to be putting my potatoes in so I am very envious that you can start doing this now.

When I plant mine I dig a trench…..fill with manure…chuck in the spuds…cover..and wait!!

I didn’t hill them up last year but after the tops dying off and finding it difficult to locate them that will change for this season!!

Tomato Lady March 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Tanya Walton–We’re in the southeast, zone 7. It’s over 60 today, and is getting pretty warm. We do have the occasional surprise freeze, of course, so I only plant cold/cool weather things, you know, the “plant as soon as ground can be worked” stuff. Strictly speaking, April 15 is our frost-free date, but it’s so hard not to fudge it a little when it is so warm out.

Becca March 2, 2011 at 7:38 pm

We tried planting potatoes in tires last year and also have a miserably small amount to show for it. Maybe we’ll try this way this year!

laura March 2, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I get so excited when I see an email telling me you have new post up! I just love your blog! So, what yield are you expecting from your potato planting today?

Tomato Lady March 2, 2011 at 9:54 pm

laura–I hope for the best, but try not get too excited. I hear yields of anywhere from 5-12 lbs from 1 lb seed potatoes is normal. So it’s a pretty wide range. Stay tuned, I’ll try and weigh ’em when we dig them. Unless it’s like last time and I can hold the whole harvest in one hand.

Jessie March 3, 2011 at 7:39 am

My grandfather always said to plant potatoes where other stuff won’t grow – as in plant in the poor soil. If they have too much good stuff in the soil they use it to grow leaves, not roots. You can also trim the tops, forcing them to stop growing leaves and they should respond with growing more root.

Jennifer J March 3, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I noticed you planted the whole seed potato.We always cut the potato where the “eyes” are and plant .Which makes them go farther.It’s the way my grandmother showed us.Does anyone else do this also?

Tomato Lady March 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Jennifer J–Yes, some of mine were definitely big enough to divide, but most were smaller and I just plopped them in whole. My space was sort of cramped and I wanted to get them all in.

Handful March 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm

You are a bit ahead of me in NW Ohio but I did purchase a bunch of organic seeds yesterday as the lawn and garden areas in the stores are being stocked. Sooo excited. I also cut mine into eyes. My BF used to cut then dry before planting. I have never heard of this and wonder at the reason. Anyone??
Jonathon and Jesse – tx for the tips. Nothing like using the poor soil areas for a bountiful crop! We are eeking out more land from the fields and it is hard to make it nutritious again. Planting some green manure this year and adding horse poop, sand (heavy clay soil) and leaves. Any additional suggestions are appreciated.

plantmama March 3, 2011 at 3:30 pm

With seed potatoes, you only need 2-3 eyes per piece. You can cut your potato into pieces that have 2-3 eyes and let the pieces dry for a couple of days to form a hard surface. Makes it harder for disease to get in and the pieces won’t rot. Stay low on the nitrogen and make sure the soil pH is low (5.5 ish) to help ward off scab (fungal disease…makes the tater look ugly, but still edible) You can amend the soil with peat as it has a lower pH.

Handful March 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Thanks, Plantmama. That makes sense. I don’t recall having rot but perhaps I didn’t pay close enough attention. I certainly don’t want scabby taters! 😉

Diane March 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm

We also planted potatoes in a bin a couple of years ago and didn’t get much in return. This year we are doing it right. 10lbs of white and 10lbs of red seed potatoes have been purchased and hopefully will be in the ground next week.

Andres March 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Exciting. I am going to attempt to grow potatoes for my first time this year, so I am looking forward to following the progress of yours as well. Good luck.

Laurie April 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm

My potatoes are growing foliage so fast. I covered 6 inches of foliage about a week ago with wheat straw and they’ve already grown 8 inches above that. How do I fix that? I read that one can mix in some bone meal to lower the nitrogen level. Most of what I read tells you how to amend the soil before planting potatoes, but how do I amend the soil while the potatoes are growing? I live in North Georgia. Thanks.

Tomato Lady April 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Laurie–I found this: http://www.ehow.com/how_8547521_lower-nitrogen-levels-soil.html
I hope it helps.

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