Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Planting Potatoes

As you may remember, last year's potato crop was a disaster.  Ten pounds of potatoes from $56 worth of seed potatoes.  I was distraught.  Even worse, I had to give up my fantasy of presenting Mr. FC&G with a bushel of my homegrown potatoes as a tangible demonstration of my ability to feed our family.

This year, I'm trying a number of different approaches.  For one, my potatoes are starting in a trench.  Apparently, the little guys don't put out potatoes any lower in the ground than the seed potato, so you can either trench them or hill them or both to give them maximum under-ground space.  I am starting mine in a trench as you see here:  This trench goes about 12 inches down and is filled with my seed potatoes.  I covered them with a layer of sifted compost, a layer of the trench dirt, and some ground leaves for mulch, for a depth of about four inches.  As they show their little vines, I will add more dirt and more mulch and hopefully build a respectable hill.

Second, the Yukon Golds this year come from organic potatoes I bought at Trader Joe's for $3.69.  As you can see in this blurry iPhone photo, they were sprouting pretty well before I planted them.  All I did was purchase a bag of organic potatoes about three weeks ago, throw them in an Amazon box in a single layer, and put them in a sunny window in the dining room.  They quickly turned green and stared to sprout.  I feel pretty confident they will produce, based on the fact that last year's vines that came from store potatoes were my heaviest producers, but even if each one of these seed potatoes only gives me one potato, I'll break even.

I do have some blue potatoes on the way to supplement some blue potatoes from last year that started to sprout and went in another trench.  But at least I've succeeded in controlling my seed potato costs, and that is the first step to profitability.

Now, to get a bushel basket.....

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  1. I think you are on the right track. That is about the way I do my potatoes. I like to keep most of my potatoes small whole ones but there are times when I do cut a large one into sections. I do dust mine with sulfur to help with rot. I never know how much rain we get here. Right now its raining , a lot, so I've put off putting my taters in this past weekend. I will this weekend. I hope you will post their progress

  2. I love how analytical you are in your gardening :) Last year we grew 110# of potatoes, this year I'm hoping to double that. We buy our 'seed' potatoes from Landmark (Belmont&Columbus Aves, Springfield) for $.69-99/lb and they do carry some interesting blue, purple, yellow varieties. Last year we tried the straw method and found it quite successful. We loosened the soil, maybe 3-4 inches deep, dropped in a potato and covered it thickly with straw. Done. The potatoes grew east/west as opposed to north/south, so the 3-4 inches of loose soil was more than enough. Only thing we'll do differently this year is add straw later in the season as a few of our taters were exposed to sunlight where the straw had blown away.

  3. I am in California and we plant in February and March. I planted my potatoes from seed ones I got at Wal-mart. (I guess I am cheap). They are almost ready to harvest. I plant mine 4" deep and then cover with a few inches of straw. I have already got 4 lbs. from 6 lbs. of seed potatoes and I haven't even dug any up yet. Those are just ones I felt in the dirt with my hand because I wanted some red new potatoes to cream with some fresh peas. Yummm!