Less Noise, More Green: Potato Bags: the good, the bad and the spudly

Friday, May 2, 2014

Potato Bags: the good, the bad and the spudly

This was my first harvest from last year.

Last year, my bountiful potato crop was one of the highlights of the season. This year, I want to repeat the success but I made the decision to try a new growing method. Here in New England we are not plagued by potato blight - yet. It is working its way up the east coast and I fear will be with us before too long. This disease lives in the soil and once you have it, you face a very hard journey ahead to save the soil. Better to be safe then sorry, I decided to not grow potatoes in the garden beds this year.

See those pin holes of light? Those are the drainage holes. There are none on the bottom.

Instead, I have invested  in potato bags. These are filled with growing medium and if the worst happens, I can just dump all the soil and chalk it up to bad luck.

I have three reservations about this method, however. Firstly, I have heard mixed reports on how good the yield is compared with growing potatoes in the ground. Secondly, I am worried about how well these bags will drain and I 'll just end up with rotten potatoes. Lastly, this is an expensive experiment between the bags and buying the soil. If I'm not happy with the result I'm going to be angry with myself!

When my son saw me filling the bags with soil, he looked at the seed potatoes and asked "Are those donut holes or rocks?"  Yes, I'm growing donuts plants. Guess who's going to be helping me in the garden this year.

I bought the same seed potatoes as last year - Kennebec, which has a mid to late season harvest, and Yukon Gold which has a mid season maturity. After leaving them in the fridge for a couple of weeks, I left them in a cool, light place so the eyes could start forming.

I bought eight potato bags (four for each kind) and filled each bag with 15 centimeters of a mix of 90% humus and 10% manure. In each bag I placed three seed potatoes, making sure the eyes were facing upwards. I then covered the potatoes with a few more inches of soil.

That's it!

Once the potatoes have a few inches of growth above the soil line, I'll fill in with more soil, leaving a little of the leaves showing. I'll repeat this process until the bag is filled up to six inches from the top. The potatoes will continue to grow and flower. Once the foliage dies back, it's time to harvest. One piece of maintenance I will do is make sure I fertilize regularly. Potatoes are big feeders and especially in containers can suffer greatly if not supplemented. I'll use liquid fish emulsion and apply every two weeks.

The flaps on the side of the bag are for finding new potatoes.

I chose the bags I did because they have access flaps on the side which you can use to find new potatoes with out disturbing the whole plant. Once the plant flowers, you can start feeling around for treasure!

These bags do not have a lot of drainage holes which concerns me. We are having torrential rain today and I moved the bags into the garage, just to be safe.

Have any of you used this method before? How were your results?

See you in the garden (but not today!)


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  1. I think commercial potato growing bags are too expensive. I usually grow them in raised beds, but sometimes I plant them in nylon garbage bags. The effect is the same as when you plant the veggies in a commercial bag. The difference is that you have to make a few holes in the garbage bag for drainage purposes.

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