potato dig

This is the first year I've ever tried growing potatoes. From what I read it's a dead-simple crop to grow, and many people grow them in pots or bags -- perfect for me since I didn't have space in my small veggie beds for them.


They seemed like they were doing quite well this summer, with decent foliage and flowers, but not having any previous experience I didn't know for sure. As most of the foliage had faded by now, it was potato harvest time this weekend. Let's see how it went...


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One nice thing about growing in pots is that harvest is pretty simple.


I just hoisted each pot into the wheelbarrow and dumped it out. I did the smallest ones first:


The soil was quite wet because we had gotten a lot of rain the night before.

That first small pot contained a proportionately small number of tubers:


That's okay -- move on to the next:


This one was much better:


The third pot that was the exact same size as the second held promise, but was ruined somewhat by pests:



Potato wireworms! These are the larva of a type of beetle, which I've seen referred to as a "click beetle".


They sure did some damage on some of these!


I did get a couple of undamaged tubers out of there though:


I should point out that I always reuse my potting mixes. To do so with this wet stuff I'm mixing in a bit of dry peat:


Then storing in garbage pails for the winter:


In the spring I'll revitalize the mix by adding in compost and manure. I'll have to remember not to use this again if I plant potatoes. I wonder if wireworms will eat elephant ear tubers?

So I've gotten most of the pots emptied now -- it's time to move on to the big one:


This was a growing bag I made out of leftover pond underlayment. The first thing I noticed that was different was this mix was much drier than the stuff that was in the pots:


In fact I would have characterized it as "almost dry", even though it had been heavily watered less than 12 hours earlier. It's not like we have baking heat to dry it out quickly either.

First pass gave me a few decent tubers:


Lots of big earthworms though!



The rest of the tubers must be buried, right?

Yes, there were more underneath all of that soil!


Well, one at least. Unfortunately only one, unless you count this cute little "cheese puff" potato:



That was extremely disappointing. I suppose the bag dried out too quickly during the summer, but I never saw the plants looking overly water stressed. Sigh.

My entire harvest from four large pots:


My first thought was "It sure wasn't worth growing these -- no potatoes next year!". After a couple of days of reflection though, I think I'll give them another try next year. Perhaps I'll put some into the ground, and will use even larger pots. I'll try some different varieties too, as this one was an unknown type I bought from a local source.


That's the thing about gardening: there's always next year!


Info on wireworms and controlling them in home gardens from Missouri Botanical Garden


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Barbie  – (October 16, 2012 at 9:40 AM)  

Not such a great harvest, I have to admit but do try again. My Tater Sacks are doing well - so far! Will do a post on these soon.

Teri  – (October 16, 2012 at 11:30 AM)  

Yours did better than my one plant. I tried growing in a straw cage. Got 5 TINY spuds. From what you've noted... I think mine were too dry. Definitely too something! I'm going to try again next year also. It *was* a fun experiement!

Gerhard Bock (Bamboo, Succulents and More)  – (October 16, 2012 at 12:40 PM)  

Don't be disappointed. It's not about quantity, it's about quality--and the fun of doing it.

Lisa  – (October 16, 2012 at 5:52 PM)  

I don't think you can ever judge a garden experiment by one year. Too many variables in weather, precipitation, etc. My gardening friends who grow potatoes every year tell me this was a bad year for potatoes all around. So definitely worth another try!

scottweberpdx  – (October 16, 2012 at 9:22 PM)  

I would totally grow potatoes again, if I had more room. I have great memories of new potatoes, freshly-dug from the garden...it was amazing to turn over the earth and out tumbled dozen and dozens of potatoes...it's a little more magical, since you have no idea what's going on down there in the dirt! Definitely try some in the ground, if you can...I think you'll have better results :-)

Looking to land  – (October 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM)  

I grow them the first time this year. I got some small but tasty ones in summer but then it all got root-rotten, which I don't know why. I grew them under a tree. Probably why the shade and the tree roots did no good's way.

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