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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Update on Potato Growing Experiment

 photo 100_7229_zps53fb864d.jpgA few months ago, I decided to do an experiment and try to grow my own potatoes from some potatoes that had sprouted in my kitchen. I had heard that you could grow potatoes in a bucket, and since I only had a little space on my porch for growing things, I decided to try that out.
I haven't had much success with gardening in the past, so this was an experiment... Would it work, or would I manage to kill it like I've killed so many other things I've attempted to grow...

Supposedly, when growing potatoes in a bucket, you let it grow until the plant dies, and then you dump it out and find your bucket filled with potatoes.

So since my potato plants had grown and died, I decided to dump out my buckets of dirt today and unearth my huge amount of potatoes!

So first of all, I have to say that I'm not so good at taking care of plants, and that its very possible that the potato plants died, not because they were ready and at the end of their life cycle, but rather, because I took bad care of them, either too much water, not enough water, surviving a snow... And of course, Anneliese likes to pick the leaves from the plants and ended up killing one of the potato plants entirely.

So, I was assuming that I wouldn't have too high of a yield.

Here's how many potatoes I found in the first bucket.

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Since those look like decent sized potatoes in that picture, I need to explain how large they are. The biggest potato is about the size of a golf ball. The smallest is smaller than a marble. Teeny tiny potatoes. That's all that was in the first bucket!

This is what was in the second bucket.

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One normal sized potato. The rest teeny tiny little nothings, ranging from marble sized to golf ball sized...

And here is the entire yield.

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Oh well. Not so many potatoes. But at least I got something and not nada...

Now that I dug up these potatoes, I just planted a few new plants in their place- a few zucchini plants, and few string bean plants. Soon I'll plant tomato plants in one of my window boxes. I have purslane and scallions growing in another window box. Zucchini because they grow like crazy, and I learned that the entire plant is edible, so even if I don't end up getting actual zucchini, I can still eat whatever grows, and green beans because they're expensive here, and tomatoes because they're easy to grow.
Wish me luck that I have better success with these new plants than I did with the potatoes!

Have you tried growing potatoes ever? Any idea why my potato plants would have died when the potatoes are still this tiny?

28 comments:

  1. You should definitely give the potato experiment a second go. Potatoes are so easy to grow, and you have to admit you at least got a meal of baby potatoes at the end of it all. :) Good luck with the rest!

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    1. Yes, and the little ones like you got are the most expensive kind at the grocery store. Just saute them whole in a little butter and olive oil, sprinkle with some kosher salt, yum!

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  2. Zucchini and tomatoes are heavy feeders, so make sure you have picked a variety that does well in small containers, otherwise, you won't get any harvest at all. (I had a squash plant last year, and the pot was too small, so the whole thing turned brown and died, giving me only one small tiny squash. Not worth the potting mix or the water I wasted on it) Tumbling Tom is a good variety of tomato (it will grow in a hanging pot, if needed, so a window box would probably be perfect), and eight ball zucchini (grows a round squash as opposed to an elongated one), supposedly does well in containers. I think most squash plants need a nice deep container, though. I'm not sure a window box would work. I could be wrong, though.

    Green beans, I've found, will grow in whatever you put them in, it just affects the plant height. I had 15 bush bean plants in a storage container (holes drilled in bottom and sides for drainage) last year, They only got about a foot tall each, but we had enough fresh beans to pick enough for a dinner for three (and a baby) every couple of days.

    I am growing potatoes for the first time this year, but luckily, my in-laws live on a farm, so they're letting us grow most of our veggies down there. I'm only growing what we want for fresh eating on our porch this year.

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    1. These containers for the zucchini are pretty deep- about 2 feet deep and 1.5 feet in diameter. I assume that's big enough to grow zucchinis, no? The window box plants are tomatoes and green beans.

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  3. Zucchini and tomatoes are heavy feeders, so make sure you have picked a variety that does well in small containers, otherwise, you won't get any harvest at all. (I had a squash plant last year, and the pot was too small, so the whole thing turned brown and died, giving me only one small tiny squash. Not worth the potting mix or the water I wasted on it) Tumbling Tom is a good variety of tomato (it will grow in a hanging pot, if needed, so a window box would probably be perfect), and eight ball zucchini (grows a round squash as opposed to an elongated one), supposedly does well in containers. I think most squash plants need a nice deep container, though. I'm not sure a window box would work. I could be wrong, though.

    Green beans, I've found, will grow in whatever you put them in, it just affects the plant height. I had 15 bush bean plants in a storage container (holes drilled in bottom and sides for drainage) last year, They only got about a foot tall each, but we had enough fresh beans to pick enough for a dinner for three (and a baby) every couple of days.

    I am growing potatoes for the first time this year, but luckily, my in-laws live on a farm, so they're letting us grow most of our veggies down there. I'm only growing what we want for fresh eating on our porch this year.

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  4. I grow mine in a bucket, but it's a bigger bucket than that, and normally I dig them up when they flower, which is just before they die.

    Mine got blight last year and turned out like that though, you need to keep them dry and the soil wet.

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    1. Mine didn't flower at all!

      You're saying you need to keep the plant leaves dry but the soil under it wet?

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  5. The reason your potatoes were small was because you grew them in a small bucket. The more space they have to grow, the bigger they get.

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    1. You sure? Because these didn't nearly fill up the bucket- the bucket was *much* huger than this amount of potatoes. I'm not sure it is because of the size of the buckets....

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  6. The reason your potatoes were small is because you planted them in a small bucket. The more space they have, the bigger they get.

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  7. I had this big long comment all typed out, and then I guess I wasn't signed in? So, it deleted it. Frustrating. Arg. :P

    Oh well, let me see if I can remember it...

    I can't see how big your buckets are here, but I do know that zucchini need one bucket per plant and they need a LOT of leg (er...root) room. They are heavy feeders as well, so you might want to amend the soil with some compost or just some kitchen scraps buried under some more soil. They'll break down and the plant will get the benefits as it grows.

    Tomatoes need lots of root room as well, so make sure you're planting a type that grows well in containers. Tumbling Tom is a great container variety, or if you're like me and want non GMO plants, any heirloom with the word "dwarf" in it. Tiny Tim is another good one. :) If you're ordering from a catalog, the description should say "good for container growing". (If you already know all of this, I'm sorry for being a know-it-all :P)

    I've never grown potatoes before. We're growing them this year in our earth garden. (My in-laws have a HUGE 30x70 foot garden and they're letting us grow things there). I've seen some people get great yields from the bucket method, and I've seen others get almost nothing. So, I don't know if you did anything wrong, per se.

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  8. the entire zucchini plant is edible? I know that the blossoms are,, how would you eat/prepare the stalks and leaves?
    nini2033a@yahoo.com

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  9. potatoes are easy project, you will survive this :D

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  10. I've just started growing them. Mine are in a grow bag and a garbage can. Time will tell if I get anything. Thanks for the update!

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  11. When growing potatoes in the past we always used purchased seed potatoes to plant, but we planted them in the ground and had good luck. Perhaps it would help to plant them in long, narrow boxes. You might consult an expert. In this country we have extension advisers who give free advice. I don't know what you have available there.

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  12. Fill the bucket 6" deep plant the potaotes 5-6 inches apart. Cover with 2" of dirt and lightly water. When the stems grow to be 8" tall add dirt to over them 2/3 the way up. Repeat process until bucket is full or plant dies :)

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  13. Do you worry about plastic toxins leeching from those buckets and into the plants you will eat?

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  14. I usually dig up the potatoes in the fall, giving them a full year after planting in the fall, through the summer growing season, then digging them after the plants start to die off in the fall. The smaller ones you get are great as "seed" potatoes! I live in the NW and they have been a good "plant it and forget it" crop for me. The kids love to see what buried treasure we dig up when we harvest them. Funny shapes, tiny ones, bigger ones, they are all fun to discover!

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  15. I would be super excited to get such a bumper crop. :) Way to go for trying! I've killed entire gardens full of plants the last two summers, so I've giving it another shot with just bell peppers.

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  16. Potatoes need VERY loose soil in order to be able to expand. Next time don't use store bought compost mixed with earth, rather grow them in straw or leaf mulch mixed with some horse manure (potatoes love horse manure).

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  17. Not bad for a first experiment, but like others have said you can improve your yield by using a bigger bucket and taking care of the plants.

    Btw, potato leaves are extremely toxic, so take care with your little ones not to eat them!

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  18. Hey, people around here pay a premium price for little potatoes! I think they call them new potatoes or petite potatoes. :-)

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  19. I've done the same thing, with the same result. Potatoes need more room than other plants. (There are special container-friendly cultivars. I'll look them up)

    I've had excellent results in containers with tomatoes, lettuce, parsley, onions, scallions, leeks, and herbs, of course. Try maximizing your space by hanging pots from hooks -- I currently lave five varieties of tomatoes growing that way. Try making them DIY with rope and holes cut in the sides of plastic containers or buckets. Remember, plants in containers require lots of feeding and all crops need plenty of sunlight and water to grow as FAST as they've been bred to do.

    Enjoy.

    -- The Apartment Farmer

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  20. I tried potatoes two summers ago, in a raised bed (after my friend told me how easy they were!) and got basically what you got. Nada. And I had 20 or so plants. The got big and green, and flowered and everything. Nada. So I dug up everything (I thought) and let the bed go for the winter. Imagine my surprise LAST summer, when all these renegade potato plants started popping up! I ended up with an entire bed full AGAIN, even though I didn't plant any. Apparently, the little tiny potatoes that I didn't find, sprouted and grew over the winter. THAT crop was awesome! I got great, nice sized potatoes that time. So maybe plant those and try again?

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  21. You've got to try the potatoes again. They're actually super easy if you follow some basics. Plus, now is a good time to plant most varieties. If you're harvesting now, they probably didn't have much chance to produce. We harvested some yesterday, but they were planted in grow bags in the greenhouse over the winter. They came on strong as the weather warmed up, but most varieties we just planted this last weekend. I've not tried them in buckets, but this may help: http://www.mykitchenmygarden.com/2013/05/planting-potatoes.html

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  22. Now you can try out The Potato Diet! Although it doesn't look like you've grown enough there for even a day though. Give it another go. I'm going to try growing potatoes again after reading this, maybe some of the more exotic varieties like the purple potatoes I bought that were very expensive recently, it would be great to have those fresh and to hand.

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  23. The absolute best yield I have ever had from tomatoes has been when I planted them in my window boxes! Of course, they got so tall that they grew onto the roof of my deck too... That was 3 years ago though...I tried "topsy turvy" tomatoes the year after that and got ZERO tomatoes off my plants (all cherry varieties that year) and I used large planters last year for 4 tomato plants (3 heirloom and 1 from the other half's coworker who grows them in her greenhouse)...the green house plant did better than the heirlooms (which fruited a whole week before growing season ended and the frost hit and killed everything), but I have never been able to get tomatoes that are larger than a ping pong ball...no matter what variety I try!

    I really want to try my hand at potatoes and sweet potatoes...I think I may go see if the discount grocery has any later today (as I can walk there with the baby and not have to take the car since I can't work the buckles on the car seat and am home-bound when I don't have someone here with hand strength). Time to dump out the big planters from last year and get something growing again!

    Something besides the regrowing celery I have growing in a hydroponic experiment in my bathroom that is...or the green onion and avocado I have in the kitchen window (with eggplant seedlings and cucumber seedlings that I still need to figure out how I'm going to grow them...has to be container or hydroponically though...our soil is completely root bound from years of neglect.

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