The Potato Planting Experiment of 2015
Ok so I would say I am ok at growing potatoes but I do know I could be drawing a bigger yield on what I plant so I started diving more into the "types" of potatoes because as I was reading more and more the type depended on how it grew, the yield it produced and how it should be planted to produce the best yield.
Potential Potato Yield (potatogarden.com)
To figure out potential yield, multiply the pounds planted by 10. So, if you plant 5 lbs. of seed potatoes, you should yield 50 lbs of potatoes. This is a good starting point for estimating the yield, however, many gardeners are able to bring in much higher yields due to great soil and great growing conditions.
What Season of Potatoes Do I Have?
So there are three kinds of potatoes: Early Season, Mid Season and Late Season and depending on what type you want to plant you will need to know how it is meant to produce and grow so you get a full benefit of that potato seed.
1. Early Season (Short Season) which are my Yukon Golds. They have a maturing date of 60-80 days. I have also read that this type of a potato doesn't grow more potatoes as the plant grows upwards., it doesn't branch out and produce more and fill up the soil space area. If it doesn't keep producing then this means that there is no need to keep covering the potato plant (the greens) as it grows upward. The potatoes mainly just grow in the bottom six inches of the soil. So based on this "theory" I decided since I have the potatoes and the space to try three different ways.
Method 1: The Potato bag
This method will just produce and sprout upwards and I will only see potatoes in the bottom 6" of the soil which is fine this is a small container. I wont continue to cover up the sprouts but probably one time when they start growing upward. Why waste the soil if they don't produce as you cover right?
Method 2: The Tire
Method 2: The Tire
I know alot of you are going ACK!!! Tire will leach stuff into your potatoes! Well, this is one of those "theories" and this isn't an insanely old tire but kind of new actually from a truck we had. I think the older tires that are deteriorating are the ones leaching more than likely so I felt like I was pretty safe with this one. I filled the grooves with straw so I am not wasting soil in a weird space that potatoes wont be sprouting into. I placed my potatoes and covered with soil. Kind of the same thoughts as the bag just a different container. People say tires heat up the soil so therefore the potatoes grow better...we shall see! I feel like with the bag and tire they are short and squaty type of containers so if the theory is right about only growing on that bottom then they still should produce a good yield. I will probably mound up the soil a little for the tire once it grows and same goes for the bag so it does have that good 6" of soil to do all the growing it needs.
Method 3: Potato Tower
With my understanding of these being an early season potato and that they only sprout in the bottom few inches of the soil space, I am hoping for the biggest yield with this method. What I did was found some old fencing and made a circle of the size I wanted (In this case it is about the size of a barrel) and then I added soil at the bottom (about 4-5"), added yukon seeds, add more soil, more yukon seeds etc. I did this about five times up the tower. I lined the tower with straw as I went so that the plants can make their way towards the light and through the straw and out of the sides of the wire. You want to point your "eyes" of the seeds towards the straw so that the plant, when sprouted, comes out that way. Also the back end of this tower doesn't have seeds as the sun doesn't go on that side. What I read from people trying out different methods is that being an early season potato if you only put one row of potato seeds in this tower it will end up with having potatoes only in the lower portion of the tower but if you alternate the soil and the seeds as you move up the tower frame you will get more yield for the space you are using because there will then be potatoes all the way up. This is different if you are planting a late season variety, you only need one layer of potatoes. (see below under late season)
The Yukon's are in the bigger tower in hopes they come out of the sides and then some will also sprout up towards the top as I planted some in the center with the eyes angled upward. I covered with straw, just a thin layer as we haven't passed all our freezing weather yet so to be safe I covered them a bit. I honestly could have gone higher but I felt this was good enough for this tower and I probably will create another one in my second garden space by the greenhouse.
I have 25 lbs of Yukon's so I will be having alot of yummy potatoes either way! Will be interesting to see what the yield turns out to be on these!
2. Mid Season which are my Purple Majesties and LaRouge (red skinned) potato seeds in this case. They have maturing days of 80-100 days. The other tower pictured above actually contains my Purple Majesty's which are a new type of potato to me. I planted them via a tower because they have the potential to produce more potatoes than an early season. I did it the same way I did the Yukon potato tower, so we will see since it is mid season if it actually produces more of a yield and fills up that whole space with lovely purple potatoes! I didn't order a bunch of these so they filled up that little tower. I planted 5 lbs of Purple Majesties and will be planting 20 lbs of LaRouge.
I have not planted the La Rouge as of this blog post but I will be planting these in more of a trench/row method in my new garden space using pallet boards. I didn't get the best production this way last year and below is an image of last years potato pallet containers towards the back of the garden and now I know why! These containers were too big for the way these varieties grow so I wasted alot of soil for such a little amount of potatoes in the bottom portion of the container. I harvested way too soon as well and treated these as if they were early season potatoes instead of mid season. I also feel like they could have used a little more sun and since then we cleared out a new garden space with more sun and this old garden space below we revamped (Check out that post here) and cut down a huge tree blocking the sun as well. I had alot of small buds in there that would have produced a good amount of potatoes. So I learned from that and will obviously do better this year and be more patient!
3. Late Season which are my Butterball potato seeds and I have 5lbs of those. The maturing date for late season potatoes are 80-100 days. You don't need as many seeds for the late season because these are the ones that when they grow they fill up that whole soil space with potatoes. With these being late season as you cover them they tend to branch out and keep creating more and more potatoes as the soil gets higher so sounds like the preferred way to grow these would be a tower method. (That is the theory anyway but also makes sense as it takes longer to produce more potatoes) I wont be harvesting these till probably around Christmas or Thanksgiving time frame!
So with all these variety of potatoes I will be having potatoes very early in the year along with very late in the year and all the months in between! I am excited and who knows I might pick up a few more varieties! Will see what kind of space I have available once crops start to really flourish!Can't wait!
Companion Planting with Potatoes
Companions: Beans, Corn, Horseradish, Marigolds, Borage, Basil, the Cabbage Family, Eggplant, Peas
The crop/seed that I had on hand was Borage and I had read that this was a good "friend" of potatoes. It is also a "friend" of strawberries. So in the picture below I put potatoes in the green bag and the two tires. The container in the far back corner contains strawberries starts and they will climb up the back of the fencing I attached to the railing. I then added Borage seeds in the center/front of the container in hopes they grow to help stimulate the strawberries but also the potatoes and to keep the potato bug away!
My plan is to also have some smaller containers along the bottom front of the planters that have marigolds in them since marigolds benefit almost every crop you grow! They too keep the pesky potato bug away!
(Potatoes with a strawberry and borage container in the back)
If you have any other info I would love to hear from you! Just post in the comments below!
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*I will update this post with any changes, adjustments and/or results that occur so stay tuned!