Thursday, June 2, 2011

Increasing Plantable Area in a Raised Bed Garden Continued (potatoes)

Over the past year we have instituted many strategies in our garden in order to plant more, yield more, and harvest more.
The photo above is one of our raised beds. We planted 3 rows at the base of this bed and probably planted between 15-25 potatoes here (way more potatoes than the recommendation in most planting resources). This area spans 6 or so feet along the length of the bed. Consider these potatoes our control group. We will judge the success of the bin method off of the growth that occurs here.
Compare that raised bed to these containers shown above. The black container on the left is a compost bin with the lid removed. Next to it are two old metal garbage cans. We loaded the bottom foot of each of these with compost. Dropped 20-30 potatoes into each bin. Applied a foot or so of hay or straw. 
All blue.
Fingerling potato
Not sure what this potato is. We didn't mark the bins. 

As the potatoes grow, we add more hay until the potatoes grow to the top. Then we harvest. The only problem that I see with this method involves mice. We planted potatoes in bags last year and the little field mice ate them all! 
Compare the planting of potatoes in the ground versus a bin:
The bin holds the same amount of potatoes as 6 linear feet of bed space.
The bin allows for very tall plants, thus increasing yields.
When the plants are finished growing, we can simply dump out the bins instead of digging up the potatoes as we would from the ground.

Have you grown potatoes this way? What are your thoughts?


Curbstone Homestead said...

This is my first year of growing potatoes and I followed the recommended allowable spacing. I was amazed by how much room just this vegetable took up! I would love to see how your experiment goes. I would love to convert to the bins if it works out!

K-Koira said...

The only way I've ever grown potatoes has been in the compost heap on accident, which is pretty similar to your bin method. This year is the first where I will be deliberately planting potatoes, and I will be using the tire-stack method, with the tire stack doubling as the compost heap.

Kelsi said...

We have thought about using the tires, but ultimately decided against it. Our reason was that we were concerned about the chemicals leeching into the soil and then into the potatoes.

Let us know how it works for you!