We had a great thread last year documenting our "growing potatoes under straw" adventure. It's a new year, and we're about to get underway with our spuds for 2011. So, ya'll come along on the adventure with us! Post your know-how, know nots, skill, expertise, questions, hints, tips, and progress pics. Welcome aboard, and leave a few fries on the plate for me!
Here are the links to the previous discussions. Take some time to read through them, and a LOT of your questions will already be answered!
Great, Steph! What'cha growing this time? Mine arrived Tuesday. I'll be doing Kennebecs, Yukon Golds, and, um, I forget the 3rd one. I got 5lbs of each, and will do my layering experiment.
I'll use my two 15-gallon Smartpots and two washing machine tubs. Probably will have to use MG potting mix since I got rid of all my planting medium when I moved. Starting a veggie garden with no dirt can be challenging...
I got 5 lbs Rio Grande Russets, 3 lbs Purple Vikings, and 2 lbs of some kind of red potato. Not sure what or where I'm going to grow them. I might try a raised bed this go round since all my potatoes last year grew down in the dirt anyway.
Today, I'll need to pull out the taters and get them laid out in a container so they can start growing. I briefly looked at them last night and I saw some eyes already forming on some of them, so that's a good thing.
I haven't been on in quite a while but my report from last year's crop was not the best. I started in the ground but then used pine straw to cover plants up. I did not find many in the pine straw at all. I am going back to my wine casks and just soil less mixture. I bought some yukon golds in the fall (on sale, no less) and have them sprouting now. As soon as the snow melts, I plan to plant them in the casks. I need to order some more kinds. My fingerlings were very small - smaller than what I think they are supposed to be. It is a good thing I am not planting to fed a family! Marilyn
I am sick of winter and have been sitting around thinking of things I can plant in containers. I have a garage full of potatoes from last season but the thought of raising sweet potatoes for next season in a raised bed hit me. Our season is ideal for growing potatoes here, however sweet potatoes are iffy in the garden. Linda's idea of container grown potatoes made me think of trying sweet potatoes in a container. I already have a sweet potato sitting halfway in a quart jar of water in my kitchen window waiting for it to develop slips. Figured like you Linda I would use MG mixed with some well aged cow manure for the potting media. I also will add about a gallon of vermiculture media (peat moss), worms and all to the mix. Other than that I haven't a clue on what I will do. Anyone else tried sweets in a container???
I planted potatoes last year but there weren't many Plants,so I decided to not dig them up. However I am wondering if they will come up again since we had freezing at -2 degrees, what do you think? This is my first try at growing them in a raised bed that is ten inches above ground with straw on top.
Morgan, I grew sweeties last year in a half-wine barrel and in 2 24-inch boxes left over from two mequite trees we put in the ground. They did very well. The change I would make this time around is less potting soil/dirt and more straw. I think the potatoes grow better, and bigger, in a more loose medium. The soil gets a bit compacted by the end of the growing season.
Here's a dumb sweet potato question, get ready to laugh... I planted 3 green sweet potato vines in my decorative pot with other flowers last Spring. When I went to clean out the pot to put in pansies, snapdragons and my Spring blooming bulbs I found that I'd grown the most gianormous (gigantic and enormous) sweet potatoes I'd ever seen. Are these edible, they look amazing and wondered if they could be eaten, or just over wintered to be planted for decorative purposes in the Spring? Ok, laugh now. I've used these vines in pots for years and have never had these results:-)
i have been growing vegetables in containers for years and would like to experiment with growing some potatoes in pots. i have a few 10 gallon containers. is that a good enough size?? do i buy regular potatoes from teh store and then cut them into pieces to plant or do i actually buy them in a nursury to plant and i wojuld like to grow seet potatoes to start.
I would try them Cem, sweet potatoes need to cure a few weeks (2 or 3) in a cool, dark place to 'sweeten' them. Just bake one and take a bite. It may surprise you and be okay. :-)
Herbie, I'm not sure 10-gallon will be big enough. Potatoes need a bit of room to grow. But like I told Cem - try one. What have you got to loose? A 20 cent potato? You can use a potato from the store but you'll have better results with an organic potato, sweet, russet or anything in between. Non-organic are treated so as not to sprout.
mraider3: The best sweet potato for short-season climates is 'Beauregard'. It produces big sweet potatoes in only 90 days, five weeks earlier than standard varieties. It's extremely productive, with rose skin and deep orange flesh. Fusarium wilt resistant (I've never had this problem.) It can produce HUGE potatoes- ten pounders and up are not unusual, yet they are tender all the way through. I've planted them for years, and never been disappointed.
It is amazing. The first year I grew them, I thought the large ones would be woody inside. Not one was. All were completely edible and stored well. We at them all winter, with the last ones used up in early spring. The largest ones I grew were about 4 lbs. but there was a gardener nearby who grew the whoppers. His "secret" was to lay black weed cloth over the long hill he had prepared, slit a hole and plant the slip in the hole. The black weed cloth warmed up the soil and kept it warmer all summer. I would think that would be a great way to raise sweet potatoes in colder zones.
I've gone back through this thread several times looking for something which I have been kicking around for several days now, and that is using a cardboard box to grow sweets. I possibly read that somewhere on growing cucumbers in containers. Either way it sounds like a really good idea to me. We have bins at our transfer station for cardboard boxes and their are always lots of those heavy duty moving boxes available which I have taken to use for dividers and mulching in my raise beds. They don't deteriorate very rapidly and would probably stand up to a season for growing sweets. Using a dolly the box could be moved from hoop house to a more convienent location in the garden area once temperatures warmed. Not a whole lot different than growing regular potatoes in stacks of tires which I have done before with good success. So what do you all think???
terri_e, that is exactly what I plan to do. My hoop house (8' x 12') isn't big enough for more than one box of sweet potatoes, but that should do for a trial run. I have one of those chicken house electric heaters which allows me to start moving potted plants to the hoop house as early as mid-March which is when I will plant the sweet potato. What I haven't figured out yet is how to plant the potato. I typically place reds and other potatoes in a four inch deep trench with the long eyes of the reds laying parallel on the bottom of the trench. I have thougt about planting the sweet potato in the same manner, however it might be better to have the top of the potato with slips on the surface. Haven't had the time to research that one yet. Maybe I can get some feedback here.
mraider3 and all, I lucked out and happened accross some "smart pots" on sale at the end of the season last year so I bought some. So I'm going to use those. I think it would be easy to make your own, though.
mraider3 -- so interesting to read you MT experiences, mainly because it takes me back. I spent 10 years in Belt (Great Falls area) and gardened there. Never did try sweet potatoes, but grew wonderful Yokons. Last year was my first year to grow sweet potatoes in TX. They do love the heat! I think the green house idea is great, as is the black weed stuff. I used that on my watermelon and cantelope rows while in Montana. It worked.
Growing sweet potatoes is simple. Once you have slips, pot them in a pot or place in jar of water to root. When ready, set outside in the ground, covering roots just as it was in jar or pot. Water like you do the rest of your garden and let nature take over. The vines will attempt to cover your garden and they will root all along the vine. Before your expected a freeze (Around Sept 20, if I'm not mistaken), dig up and hopefully be amazed. I sure was last year, but then I am in TX. I have boxes under two twin beds filled with sweet potatoes that we will probably never get all eaten.
Another note, while in MT, the year I barely covered my regular potatoes with dirt and then covered with straw as they grew, was the year I had no potato bugs and also had a wonderful harvest of yummy potatoes. I have not been able to duplicate that here in TX yet. Though I keep trying.
I am also a new one for trying potatoes this year. Like others, I purchased a bag of Yukon Gold at Lowes today. I have a 1 1/2' strip on ground near my raised beds where I'm to put them. This particular area is full of shells so I'll have add some topsoil & amendments. Then, I'll just pile up the straw as they grow. Wish me luck.
Last year, I trues growing a few sweet potatoes in a tub mounded with straw. I started really late in the year, so I only got about a dozen small-ish ones. But they did taste great!
What a good thread this is! Thanks for the info you guys!
Some of the sweet potato farmers in my area have complained of potato weevels (sp?). What the heck are those and if I see some what should is do? a good organic spray or will bennie nematodes I apply in spring help?
I'm happy this thread is moving right along! Steph & Carmin, when're we planting out our Irish potatoes this year? I think I read somewhere that January 15th or so was our date. And the TAMU recommendation is April for the sweeties. I gotta find me some sweeties.
I have my Irish potatoes sprouting in a warm, dark cabinet in my office. One thing I'm learning is that those spuds sprout faster when they are in complete darkness. They seem to stall with the light...or am I hallucinating?
You know, seems like I've heard they will sprout in filtered sunshine, think I'll do mine half and half.
I'm remembering, years ago, in MT, I put some potatoes in the basement, in the water closed (place that had the pump and water softener -- think dark), in buckets with brown towels on top to prevent light from coming in and hoping they would last longer. Well, out of sight, out of mind. . .I forgot them. Found them months later in the spring with 2-3' long sprouts climbing out of the bucket and towels searching for light. We went ahead and planted them by laying on the freshly tilled ground, covered with an inch or so of soil and they grew -- another great potato crop, which we did not hide in the basement.
gretagreenthumb, your comment on the long sprouts reminded me of a similar incident a year ago. I had given my neighbor some red potatoes for his garden and he had saved some for seed by placing them in a crawl space. He called me over one day to show me how they had sprouted and the sprouts were sticking up nearly four feet. I laughed and told him I had a similar situation when I had saved some reds in a water heater closet and they would do just fine in the garden.
Here in Montana we plant our potatoes in shallow trenchs. Just deep enough to cover the whole potato, then we mound up about four times as the plants grow. We plant our potatoes about a foot apart in the trenches, so I told the neighbor to just lay the sprouts sidways in the trench and place the next seed potato right on top of the sprouts from the previous layed potatoes. He really didn't think it would work but he had a fine crop in the fall.
I place about 60 seed potatoes each in those cardboard flats we get from COSTCOS. The ones they get strawberries, etc., in, which are very sturdy. I then cover the potatoes with several layers of newspapers and shove them under the shelves in our attached, insulated, but unheated garage. This practice has given plenty of sprouts but none longer than several inches. Regardless the size of the sprout the potatoes do just fine.