Monday, April 6, 2009

Red Potatoes

I'm STILL WAITING on the Russian Banana fingerling potatoes I ordered from Pinetree Garden seeds. I'm not going to order from them again, I had to email them to send me my first package. Now I had to email them about this (no reply yet). Not happy. They should have gone in by now.

However, I did luck out and pick up a 5lb bag of red potatoes at the grocery store for $.99. They were so cheap because they had all sprouted.

I added in some Yukon Gold potatoes I had in the pantry that had also sprouted, and viola!!!! I have two beds now planted with potatoes.

To prep the potatoes, you need to get them to sprout. Usually this isn't a problem, but if you have unsprouted potatoes you can leave them on the counter for a week or so and you should start to see sprouts forming in the eyes.

Seed potatoes should have 3 eyes per seed, which means if you have, say, 9 eyes on the potato you can cut it up into 3 parts and plant each piece! Also, they should be planted at least 8" apart.

There are several ways to plant potatoes:

1) Trench method: Dig a trench about 6", plant your potatoes, then pull the soil over them. Once the sprouts come up, you need to hill more dirt over the row.

2) Tire method: Get an old tire, put a few inches of dirt in the tire, put the potatoes in the tire right on the dirt, put a few more inches of dirt in the tire. Again, once the sprouts pop through, you need to fill the tire to the rim with dirt.

The cool part of this method is that when it comes time to harvest you can just pick up the tire and shake it and your potatoes will fall right out! You can also do a variation of this with a large pot, one potato per pot, but make sure it has really good drainage.

3) The hay method: I'm using a variation of this method. You put the potatoes right down on the ground (sod, whatever) and put half a broken up hay bale on top. Then, when the sprouts come up, you put more hay on top.

The upside of this method is that it is an easy way to kill sod in an area you want to use as a garden plot the next year. No digging!!

The new beds are layered Hay - Dirt - Hay. I pushed the potatoes cut-side down in the dirt layer of the new beds, then put extra hay on top of the hay that was already there. When the sprouts show, I'll add more hay.

My garden helper, Max, watching me wrassle with the hay bale! ^

You can harvest potatoes any time. If you like them small, just reach around in the dirt until you find some. If you want the large potatoes, though, wait until the plant flowers and dies back, then harvest.


YD said...

I have never heard of the hay method. That's interesting. I am only planting 1-2 pounds of potatoes this year. I didn't plant any last year.
I love that picture with Max as the "supervisor"! He's making sure you are doing the right thing. :)

Jody M said...

He's an excellent supervisor.

There is an older book by Ruth Stout called The No-Work Garden. It's out of print but you can still find used copies. There is an article about her in Mother Earth News:

Anyway, she really touts the mulch-with-hay method for everything. It is basically a Lasagna method without the layering of *different* materials.