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Kitchen Gardening

Containing Potatoes

I fantasized about placing it strategically on my front lawn.

  • Talk about recycling ~ Make your own potato bags!   Photo by Ross Goodman under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
  • Laundry baskets are handy potato containers. Photo by kisforkate under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
  • Hill potatoes by stacking old tires as the plants grow.   Photo by Tony Buser under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

Home gardeners enjoy growing potatoes. They’re easy, nutritious, and fun to harvest. We all know that hilling up potatoes with soil, straw or some other organic material as they grow will result in higher tuber yields for our dinner table. Over the years, I’ve heard of all kinds of different ways that gardeners contain their hilled potatoes.

Here on the suburban farm, we’ve almost always used the chicken-wire-in-a-hoop system. But this year we thought we’d experiment a bit. One late winter day, we stood gawking at a disgustingly gorgeous raised bed unit stocked at out local Costco (big box store). It had a large, round, garden bed that served as the center of the unit. Then four beds angled off of it like sun rays.

It was made of heart redwood and came complete with decorative end posts that held up shining brass finishing caps. It was a glorious thing. I fantasized about placing it strategically on my front lawn. My crops would never be prouder and the neighbors would drool with envy.

One look at the price tag and I was over it.

One of the most interesting features was the fact that built into one of the sun ray beds was an area where separate boards could easily slide on – a section at a time. I could only presume this was the potato bed. I loved this idea and thought to bring the idea home to one of our own beds.

The only difference was that we hadn’t created a structure that would allow boards to slide on that easily. No, we figured we could just nail on a section of boards each time the potato plants grew a few feet. As it turns out, this idea worked out much better if husband-extraordinaire did the wood-adding. Consequently, the sections didn’t get added as often as they should have. I’m not pointing a finger here; just stating the facts. The potato plants dangled woefully and threatened to topple over on more than one occasion before they received any support. As of this moment, the jury is still out on whether this affected the potato yield.

Any Creative Potato Containers Out There?

I’ve managed to stay abnormally calm through the potato container experiment because those potatoes were started in a brand new bed this year. Over in the old potato bed, I had volunteer potatoes come up, too. When I noticed the little potato plants poking out of the bed from last year, just to be on the safe side, I surrounded them with four thick steaks and some green, plastic netting with small square holes. I’ve decided that the add-wood-sections-as they-grow technique just isn’t for us.

So how about you? What is your favorite way to contain your potatoes? Laundry basket? Bamboo fencing? Stacked old tires? Let us know what’s working for you!

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