April 18, 2012

Growing Potatoes in Bags





Over the past several years, we have tried growing potatoes here in the Ozarks without much success.  Oh, we would get some potatoes, but they have never done very well.  If you know anything about the Ozarks, you well know what a pain it is to grow anything in this red clay.  This year, we are trying something completely different (for us).  I realize that this method has been out there for awhile, but it never occurred to me to actually try it.  Old habits die hard.

Our potato failures include planting them in raised beds, tiered beds that have been amended, and the whole growing potatoes in straw method.  I've talked to several people that have had good success with the straw method, we just don't happen to be one of them.

I came across this idea on Pinterest and modified it a bit in order to use what I already had instead of buying new stuff.  The original idea included buying landscape fabric and sewing bags out of it.  I couldn't see going to all that trouble when we have several feed sacks that weren't being put to good use yet.


My first step was to find a good level area and then lay down some cardboard.  I don't want weeds growing up around the bags that will have to be trimmed with the weed eater.  The weed eater might put holes in the bags and I'd rather avoid that.

The second step was to cut holes in the cardboard where I wanted to plant my individual potato.


Third step is to dig a hole in your open square to plant the potato in.


Fourth step cover the potato with dirt.


My next step was to cut a matching size hole in the bottom of each bag and to roll down the edges.  I discovered that I really like using the plastic bags that our Black Oil Sunflower seed comes in.  They roll down pretty easy and they'll probably last longer than the lined dog food bags.  

I placed a few rocks to weight the bags down initially to keep any strong spring winds from blowing them around.  After the potato begins to grow and the bag is steadily filled with dirt, straw or mulch, it will be heavy enough to stay in place.


Here you can see what they look like just after I've finished with them.  The picture at the top of the post shows a few weeks worth of growth.  As of this post, I have been very pleased to see lots of growth and have had to fill the bags in with dirt and straw a couple of times and unroll the bags a few times too.

Most of the bags we used were 50 pound bags, but we also used a few 25 pound bags.  

Some of the bags I did a bit differently.  I didn't both cutting a hole in the cardboard or the bag, I simply placed about three potatoes in the bottom of the bag with a few rocks to hold the bag down, covered the potatoes with dirt and straw and left them to grow.  We'll see at harvest time, which bags did the best!  

Each year of gardening is an experiment whether I like it or not it seems.  Sure enough, when you think you have something figured out, the weather changes on you or a new batch of bugs attack and it feels like you're back to square one.  

It must be the love of the challenge that keeps me excited and trying new things.  

Here are a few different ideas for growing potatoes....

Grow Potatoes in Bags  (where I got my idea from)

You can find other great ideas HERE.

What about you?  What new method are you trying this year??


UPDATE:  

Last year we had a terrible drought.  Cattle farmers were having to cut down trees so their cows could eat the leaves because hay was too scarce and many hay farmers from other states were price gouging until hay was almost triple the usual price.  Needless to say, in concern for our well, we weren't able to water much of the garden, including these potato bags.  Even so, we got a few potatoes from them.  I'm sure that I'll try this method again and hope for a better year regarding rain.  The end result of our first attempt with this method was extremely less than satisfactory, but I don't believe it was due to anything but the rain factor.  At first, when I was watering them, I wondered how much was too much though.  Not sure the right way to gauge how much water it held, but the bags with the holes drained well.  The bags without the holes drained almost as well since they were more of a mesh bag that sunflower seeds come in.








15 comments:

  1. We're not too good growing potatoes here in Kentucky either. Strangest thing, we did have a small success last year, and I do mean small but the funny thing is, that where we planted last year, we have new potatoes coming up! We had used the old tire trick to grow ours. We're going to keep the returning plants and plant a few more and see how they do. Last year I had some gourmet potatoes, small and some were purple, that we let go to seed and then planted. This year, I have some russets I'm going to plant really soon. Good luck with yours.

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    1. Did you use the stacking the tires method? We haven't tried that one yet. I'm just not thrilled with any chemicals from the tires getting into our food. Of course I could have the same argument against using the plastic bags I used for the potatoes this year.

      I've been looking for the purple potatoes! You wouldn't happen to know where I could get some do you?

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  2. I bought a bag of assorted gourmet potatoes at Sams last year and let some of the purple ones go to seed. We only stacked our tires 2 high. We probably should have gone higher. I never thought about chemicals from them.

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    1. I will see if I can find some this year, thank you!

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  3. Good morning! We tried the method of making a bamboo surrounding, placing a couple of shovels of compost in the bamboo surrounding. Placing potato eyes face down in the compost and layering straw ontop. Water every now and then. The potatoes (sweet and regular white) have taken off. Every time leaves are exposed, we add just a little more straw to cover them. Continue this process until harvest time.

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    1. Hi Sandy, I'm not sure what you mean by the bamboo method. Do you mean that you place the bamboo in a circle and then fill with dirt? I've not heard of put the eyes face down, that sounds interesting!

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  4. We love growing potatoes, we are good with putting them right into the ground. Harvest time is like a treasure hunt, just love it. Have you seen the box method, like stacking tires but it's small square wood garden boxes that you stack. Same method for harvesting, taking a box off finding your taters then go to the next box for more and so on.

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    1. I have seen that idea and will try that one next if this doesn't work. This time of year, we don't have the time to build those boxes it seems! I do like the idea better than the bags :o) I included a few more links at the end of the post of different ideas. One includes using a laundry basket!

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  5. Although I have great success growing mine in soil, digging them is a JOB! This year we are growing some in soil and have an experimental row in straw. Ironically the straw potatoes are outgrowing the ones in the soil .. I am interested to see how you bag growing method works out : )

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    1. I think the straw method works pretty good actually. We planted a big square area and had a hard time keeping up with piling the straw on. And for some reason, the bugs were awful that year. It was enough to discourage me on that method. If we try it again, we will do it in a long row which will make keeping the straw on it, easier. I'll be curious to see how you like the straw method!

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  6. Hi Sharon, Although our farm is like one giant sandbox (sand on top & loam about a foot or so down), we seem to be able to grow quite a bit. Potatoes do really well for us -- my husband always digs deep gullies (like the gutter at a bowling alley, only deeper) and we plant our potatoes, then about half-way through the growning season when the potatoes are about to peek out of the ground, my husband covers the new potatoes with the dirt along the sides of the "gutters". Unfortunately the gophers also know where our potatoes are - it's a constant battle. But I know what you mean, we are always learning when it comes to the garden and we always say, "Next year...". This year I am banishing the corn from our garden and they will have to have their own plot. My husband likes to plant corn using the 3 sisters method (how the indians taught the pilgrims), planting them with pole beans & squash to supposedly reduce the weeds, well, last year the squash overtook the garden like an octopus' tentacles, I thought I was going to be pulled under, haha. I think I will try pickles this year where I usually plant corn. After touring the Gedney pickle factory, store bought pickles have just never looked to appealing.

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    1. Oh to have your soil !!! It sounds like your husband has a great way of growing potatoes (minus the gophers) !! I've been seeing a lot of the three sisters method, but we have such terrible trouble with squash bugs that I haven't tried it. I'm interested to know what turned you away from store bought pickles after the tour of the pickle factory! We have turned away from most of anything that has to be store bought and I can imagine that touring any factory would for sure make a person steer clear of whatever that factory is producing.

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  7. This is my first year growing a garden, so I;m sure it will be a learning experience. Crossing my fingers I have some success. I'm going to be trying the tire method with growing our potatoes, since my husband has quite a few of them in storage. I figured I might as well put them to good use!

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  8. “It must be the love of the challenge that keeps me excited and trying new things.” – I’m glad you feel that way. Trying some calculated risk and taking on a challenge spice things up. And in the end, the result is definitely rewarding. Any updates on your project? Growing potatoes in a bag is one way to produce them, especially if your ground soil is not apt for the seeds and you have limited space. Just be sure that bag is sheltered from the sunlight and that there is enough soil covering on top of the growing tubers.

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  9. How did this turn out? Especially curious about the bags without holes!

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