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Spring planting and a GIANT potato bag

Last year I planted potatoes in a 200 L drum and I had some promising green growth up top, but not many potatoes when I tipped over the drum, maybe a couple of kilos at the most, but nothing spectacular anyway. We eat heaps of potatoes, maybe 5 kg a month, and I'd like to be able to grow enough to sustain us, but its hard to find the space in the garden.  Really you need lateral space rather than depth, as I discovered the potatoes don't really grow down very far, so the drum idea was a bit pointless (but produced really nice compost).  The drum is now a second compost bin, and I decided to plant the potatoes in a giant potato bag instead.  You know the small potato bags that you can buy?  I didn't think that would produce enough potatoes, so I used a 1 tonne bulky bag that someone had given us.

I filled the bulky bag with layers of mulch straw, cow manure, compost and green weeds.  I planted the potatoes in a nice layer of compost at the top.  I am hoping the the whole thing gradually slumps downwards as it decomposes and then I can keep adding mulch on top to keep growing more potatoes upwards.  I started with seed potatoes - desiree and sebago, and a couple from the cupboard that had sprouted.  I know - potato virus contamination etc, but I hate to waste them!  The sebago had lots of sprouts when they arrived, and were ready to plant, but the desiree had none, so I left them out in the light for a few weeks to develop more sprouts.  (I think this is called "chitting").

seed potatoes chitting

the giant potato bag ready for planting

the compost that I planted the potatoes in to....
Here's the bag after the sebagos started producing leaves

I also started planting some summer crops.  I tried to follow moon planting - the guide said to plant leafy plants before the 23rd Sept and fruiting plants after.  So on the 22nd I planted both leafy and fruiting.  Near enough!  I planted: pumpkins, squash, cucumber, watermelon, tomatoes, corn, beans, soy, coriander, basil, borage, chamomile.... I tried to write down which is which so I know what sprouts, then I turned the tray around, so its a bit of guess work until some recognisable plants come up!  I've put the seed trays in the mini greenhouse, to keep constant temperature and keep the moisture in the soil, seems to be going ok.  By the way, the greenhouse was really good over winter, it kept alive two chilli plants, the avocado I sprouted from a seed, three little jacaranda plants, and the ginger.  Pretty good for $40!

Have you started planting for spring yet? 


This post is linked to farm girl blog fest 4 on Fresh Eggs Daily.

Comments

  1. I think potato bags are great and saves space in the garden beds for other things to grow. Hope it works well and you have heaps of spuds to eat.

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  2. The potato bag is a really neat idea. I might have to give it a go myself - I have just checked out Aussie Skip Bags and they're reasonably priced. Might see if I can salvage something similar from somewhere.

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  3. I am with you on the "wishing we could grow our own potatoes" stakes. Here in Tassie spuds are cheap. I can get a 10kg sack of them for $6.95 and we use 10kg a fortnight! I would still love to grow our own and my sad experiment in our silty clay soil where we planted purple congo's, kipfler's and pontiacs and harvested less spuds than we planted has led me to believe that we are going to have to go the same route as you have. Cheers for the good idea :)

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  4. Sorry to hear that the drum planting didn't go too well but I wouldn't give up on the idea yet :) I'm not sure which method you used but am thinking that you might have filled the container with soil and then planted the spuds at the top? If so, maybe try again but plant the seed potato(es) at the very bottom in about a foot of soil/compost. When you see green growth then add another foot of soil on top, covering the leaves. Keep doing this over the season and you'll have that tub filled with spuds in no time :)

    The potato bags are a great way to grow spuds as well and I've also tried them out in ordinary containers but the haul isn't as much as in larger bins (and they require a lot more manual watering).

    Good luck with your spud crops :) xx

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  5. I'm with you on trying to grow more potatoes this year! As well as the traditional beds I'm doing an experiment with a large chook food bag. I rolled it down about half way and filled that with compost and straw and planted the seed potatoes, then as the plants grow up I'm planning to roll the bag up a bit at a time and fill it with more compost. I'm not sure whether to fill it over the top of the plants or just tuck them in up to their chins though...!

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  6. Keep the potato plants as cool as you can in the hot days, they may be getting too warm in the drum.

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  7. Hi all, sounds like we all want to find the ideal potato growing method! Good luck to all those who are trying bags this season!! I planted mine about half-way up the bag, but the mulch underneath is already starting to compress, so I can add more on top, its working ok so far. I think the bag will breath better and not heat up so bad, it does seem to be holding moisture ok so far as well. I will report back in autumn!

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  8. I’m giving you my early congratulatory greeting for making it happen. Growing potatoes in a bag or sack is one of the methods some farmers and manufacturers use nowadays. It is space-saving and quite convenient. It is also a perfect way to grow spuds in small gardens, patios and balconies.

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