Thursday, December 20, 2012

Garden Envy, and a Potato Growing Experiment

I have garden envy. Or maybe farm envy. Or homesteading envy. Not exactly how sure I'd define that.
But back to that in a moment.

In our old apartment, back when we had a yard, we experimented growing potatoes. A potato, in fact, and we didn't follow instructions so well, didn't do everything we should have done, but from one little supermarket potato, we ended up with a lot of potatoes.
Which makes me know that growing potatoes is certainly doable for a novice gardener.

Especially since we don't eat gluten, and go through a lot of potatoes, I was wishing that maybe, maybe I'd be able to grow our own potatoes. But since we have no yard, is that even doable?

Well, I read that you can grow potatoes very well in an old garbage can. Or in a sack. But since I thought a sack would be messier, I decided to attempt to grow potatoes in a garbage can. So I dumpster dove a huge one..... only, without a car and without a yard, getting dirt or compost to fill that can proved very difficult, and eventually some people played with the garbage can, and sadly, it is no longer with us.
So I sort of gave hope for growing potatoes, at least this year.

And then my potatoes decided to sprout. And sprout. And sprout, until I had 5 potatoes sitting on my shelf, with stalks growing out of them, each a good three or four inches long. Taunting me. Begging me. Saying "Penny, just plant us already! You know you want to!"


Hrmmm. If they're begging for it, I guess I'll just have to find a way to make it happen.

I called a neighbor of mine who gardens if I could buy a bag of compost off of them; they agreed.

Now back to the garden envy part of my post.

Oh man... I don't think I was more "jealous" in a while. Not jealous in a bad way, but going to their house really made me pine with longing for that time we had a yard. And chickens...

This family uses the square foot gardening method of growing veggies, and their garden is sooo prolific at the moment. They really cut down on their need to buy veggies and eggs. (They still buy some, but much less than otherwise.)

Here's some pictures of their yard, shared with permission, to show you just what you can do with a small amount of space via the square foot gardening method.

Oh- and how small? Very small! Probably their yard is less than 500 square feet, and the area in which they garden much less than that.

A whole bunch of different salad greens and cabbage... Yummy!


Broccoli and cauliflower beds. Those greens are all edible, as you already know, right?


Potatoes in a pot...


Not exactly sure what this is.

Starting seedlings in another bed. Radishes mostly.


And starting even more seedlings.


And chickens! I miss our chickens and our chicken coop. It was so nice to be able to get fresh eggs from them, especially now that the price of eggs just seems to be going up and up and up.


One day, one day, hopefully soon, we'll have a home with a yard where we can do gardening.

In the meantime, I have to get my fix looking at pics.

And trying to grow potatoes on my porch!

So, what did I do with those sprouted potatoes?

Well, since I only had one bag of compost, and I wanted to be able to grow a few potato plants, not just one, I decided to mix my compost with some dirt that I dug up from my area. I went to a public area out the outskirts of my community and dug up some dirt there from the mountainside. I mixed it half half with the compost.

I took two large 5 gallon or larger plastic buckets that I had, and, using a nail heated up in the stove top, melted a few drainage holes onto the bottom.

I filled them up about 7 inches with the mix of compost and soil.


I placed the sprouted potatoes, stem side up, on top of the dirt, two in each bucket.


I then covered them with another 3-4 inches of dirt, so that just the very tops of my potato sprouts are showing, if at all.


The way people traditionally grow potatoes is by putting potatoes in the ground, and when the plant grows above ground, you cover the plant with more dirt, making a mound. Each time it grows taller than the mound, you cover it with more dirt. You keep on doing this, more and more and more, until eventually the potato plant dies. At this point, you dig up the potatoes, which will be throughout the length of the mound.

The "garbage can trick" is that you start the potatoes low in the can/bucket, and as the plant grows, you fill the bucket with more and more dirt. Each time the plant peeks above ground, you cover all but 2 or 3 inches of the plant with more dirt, again, until the plant eventually dies. (Or, as will likely be the case with my small buckets, until there is no more room in the buckets.) At this point, you dump out the dirt onto a tarp and collect your freshly grown potatoes.

We'll see if I have success.
I hope so.

Do you garden? What do you grow? Have you grown potatoes? Have you done it this method or another method? Was it successful for you?
Does this potatoes in a bucket trick seem like something that you'd try out (when the weather is right)?

1 comment:

  1. I planted potatoes in the ground this year, but I want to make the garden more manageable next year. I am definitely going to try this! I have a couple of old tubs and a giant garden tote that is missing it's bottom that might work quite well. thank you for the inspiration!


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