Monday, January 17, 2011

Potatoes in a box

I'm starting my project, finally and even though I wish I had better potatoes to work with, I am dedicated to getting this first project off of the ground.  Since I haven't prepared anything other than choosing the project and site, I am starting from scratch at around 3:20 pm.  The spot I chose is next to one of the compost bins.  I have been using it as a holding spot, but it hasn't been living up to it's full potentail.

I pulled out the Alstromaria that is taking over my yard and moved stuff out of the way.  I added some partially composted materials from the bin right next to this spot.  I assembled all of my supplies for the project:

I have a cardboard box, rope, sharp knife, whole leaves, shredded leaves and potatoes.  A quick tip I learned from Paul James - The gardening guy - if you want to shred leaves quickly, place them in a trash can and use your weed eater to break them up quickly and easily.  
I opened up the tops and bottoms of the box, and set it on the ground with the flaps out.  I covered the flaps with mulch from the compost bin.  Not having any potting soil, I made layers out of mulch, whole leaves and shredded leaves covered with more mulch.  I placed the potatoes on top of this, then covered everything with more organic materials.

I tied the rope around the box for a little additional stability.
Once finished, I watered everything with some of the last of the rain water I saved in our barrels, and labeled the box with the type of potato (Trader Joe's Gold).

All in all the project was quite easy, taking only slightly over an hour from start to finish.  If I am fortunate enough to have vines show up, I will add more compost and leaves to the box keeping everything covered and well watered.   The results (good or bad) will be published in future posts.
My thanks to Elfie Taylor, who submitted this tip to Organic Gardening magazine.
Additional thanks to blogger "gtippitt". 
Tonight my husband and I are taking down our Christmas tree  (yes, I realize Christmas was weeks ago).  We will be taking it, stand and all, into the yard where I will decorate it with edibles for our wildlife friends.  Just maybe if they have something of their own to eat, they will leave my dinner alone.

Follow up 04/17/11
The origional potatoes that I planted didn't sprout.  They must have been sprayed with some pretty good stuff.  I pulled them up and threw them in the compost bin. I had some Russet potatoes that were sprouting so I used those as a replacement.  Low and behold, there were vines.

I noticed the first leaves about a week ago and I covered them with some composted leaves and mulch.  Within a couple of days they had grown through, so I covered them again.  I will continue covering the vines until I run out of room to do so.  Hopefully they will be ready to harvest by then.
I still have a few potatoes left.  My plans for them include a black plastic bag and some straw.
I can already taste my first new potatoes.

Follow-up 05/05/2011
The potatoes have been growing at a rate that is hard to keep up with.  I have been covering the vines almost daily so it didn't take long to reach the top of the box.  My husband found a box that fit on top of the one we were using.  We placed it on the bottom box, taping the flaps open for more room.  We covered the vines with compost and pine needles.

This is the best potato crop I've had by far.  I'll keep you updated.

Follow up:
The vines continue to grow rapidly.  I cover them with leaves and other brown material on an almost daily basis. 

We are almost to the top of the 2nd box.  I'm waiting for flowers to appear among the green leaves.  At that point I will lift up the bottom of the box and search for some of the small new potatoes. 
Watch for weekly follow ups.

No comments:

Post a Comment