New potatoes

ZachS. z5 Littleton, COJuly 1, 2014

I did an "experiment" this year with growing potatoes in 30 gallon Rubbermaid tubs. Well, I ran out of potting mix so one tub had maybe 1 bag of mix in it and the other probably about 2. Drilled holes and lined the bottom with weed cloth. Each had 3 whole seed potatoes planted in it (Sangre red & purple majesty) in early April. They grew really well. Well, I got impatient and decided it was time for new potatoes and I didn't feel like digging up my field crop just yet. So, I dumped out the bucket onto a tarp and me and the kiddo went hunting and this is what we found:

One of the nicest things about these tub taters is when the hail came in May/June, the plants hadn't grown over the top of the tubs yet so all I had to do was put the lid on and they were protected. Same for frosts/snow. Harvesting was a breeze, just dump out the tub on a tarp and start sifting. No digging, no damaged spuds. If I had to do it all over again I would have left them longer, The plants were loaded with tiny tubers and if I had given them until the end of this month or longer I would have gotten a lot more.

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You and Kiddo did good, Zach.

Both early varieties, I believe. I've grown them before and start the spud harvest during July ... except for what DW conned me into pulling a few days ago. The peas weren't even ready!

We've got a few snap peas now so I probably shouldn't have ignored her when she asked again about new potatoes ... you gotta make a few sacrifices to keep people happy!

(More pictures with Kiddo. ;o).


    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 1:53PM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Love your idea for the pots, Zach! Can you post a pic of those as well? Might like to try that next year :)

P.S. VERY cute little helper you have there!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 3:20PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Yeah, the packaging said ~80 days and it's been probably roughly that. I still think if I had left them longer we'd have been better off with those buckets. But, that's why it's an experiment eh?

Regardless I am happy with the results, and will definitely be trying this next year. Course, the weather this year has been good for potatoes, too, also a contributing factor.

New potatoes are a real treat, as are garden fresh peas (even though I rarely grow them). They also go so well together, should have listened to the ol' wife, Steve, at least in this case ;).

Marj, I will take some pic's of the set up I've got and post them. I think the tubs are heaps cheaper then those grow bags (or even most pots) and with 30 gal. you could pretty much grow anything you want in them. I'd even be tempted to try watermelon or pumpkins in a container that size. Great space saver, and pretty doggone cheap, I think I paid around 10$ a piece at Wally World.

He can be pretty cute, when he want's to be haha. He doesn't like to help out too much, until it comes time to pick the veggies. He's chompin at the bit to pull out his carrots, I think he might wet himself when he actually gets too lol.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 6:08PM
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david52 Zone 6

I have too much disease in my garden to grow potatoes, so a few years ago I tried this in containers as well. Used a potting mix, watered once or twice with miracle grow, the foliage went over and down the sides. One day my elderly farmer neighbor, who for years raised potatoes by the ton, was around visiting, sometime around mid-july. Thinking I'd show off a bit, decided to empty out the container and get some new potatoes to eat, share a mess with him as well.

So out of a 30 gallon tree container, I got about a cup of marble sized potatoes.

/Oh well

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 8:53PM
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Nice 'taters, ZachS. I regretfully did not get around to any potatoes this year in my container garden. But, I will give a few plants a go next year, I think. It seems easy enough, from your experience.

I have a tendency to over-complicate things and was envisioning crazy potato towers and such...not the best idea given my small growing space lol. I have enough going on with my Ambrosia melons and tomato plants out there without potatoes added to the mix. They are all over taking the balcony in a huge way. I wonder what it will look like out there in a month... probably a crazy jungle...sweet! lol

As for trying melons in those tubs, go for it! I got my two ambrosia melons growing in a 4 gallon or so pot sat on top of a milk crate filled with potting mix. I let them stay in the 4 gal container too long and was afraid to harm them during transplanting, so i just dug the pot down into the milk crate. That way the roots can grow out of the holes in the bottom and into the rest of the soil as it grows. It's getting enormous already!!!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 6:43AM
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I have found that any kind of container for potatoes does not compare with growing in the ground, for yield. It has been less, IME. The reports of immense yields are generally misleading, if you dig into them you find they are in Alaska or some high-latitude location with ideal climate.

But, hey, new potatoes are always welcome!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 6:56AM
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Different varieties perform differently. (Steve, stating the obvious but ... what else does he know? ;o) Some varieties develop tubers only on stolens, out away from the plant. I believe these may be the ones where the new potatoes are all found down at the planting level no matter how much mulch the gardener has piled on top.

Other potato varieties develop tubers along the stem. Photosynthesis is responsible for the starches in the tubers, however. You can only deprive the plant of so many leaves, by piling mulch over them, before production is seriously interfered with.

Here's a thought: if the plant is in a container, how much early growth could be gained by having it indoors during late winter/early spring?

I doubt if potatoes transplant well but maybe. Having room for a large container indoors and getting it outdoors later could be problematic.

I'm not sure if many gardeners would be up for this sort of thing but it could be fun.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 8:19AM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

David, yeah, that's kind of what I was expecting. But, I think the cool temps we've had this spring were mostly to blame for me getting any potatoes out those buckets. I'm hopeful that the ones I have in the ground are just as good since that is where the bulk of my seed went. I haven't grown potatoes in a long time, so we'll see.

With the being said, Pn, that's why I left my in ground taters in and satisfied the urge by just dumping out the pots lol. As I said, I think for the most part, even this amount of success was due to the weather this year as well variety.

Steve, I think if you wanted to get a real good early start (I planted mine this year in early April, so, that's good and early enough for me) and you have a greenhouse, I think that it would be more ideal. Starting them in pots indoors under lights in late February or early March I think would not work out too well. Now you could maybe set up a rolling system, with a wagon or cart or wheelbarrow and roll them into the garage at night or something and leave them out during the day, that would also maybe be an idea. (Course I'm several Coors in by now, so what do I know ;o).

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 10:43PM
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jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)

Nice, Zach! What an adorable helper, too!

I've grown in big tubs with varying degrees of success over the years. This year, I tried root pots (grey felt) and we'll see how that goes. I didn't plant mine until the last week of April (that's the timing that works best for me, around here).

Hoping the rest of the summer goes as well!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 8:58AM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Thanks! He's can be adorable, but, if you have children, well, you probably know how that goes lol.

Mine were planted ~April 7th, at least the in ground ones, I seem to have neglected to note when I planted the ones in tubs. Oh well... I looked for the felt pots, but couldn't find any around town here, the ones I saw online were too expensive, some name brand version that wanted like 30$ for a cloth bag.

I finally got carrots to grow, I have always had trouble with them, and I've been snipping off basil for a couple weeks now. The first ripe tomato was...2 days ago? And I planted my cabbage seeds to set out for the fall last night. Shaping up to be a decent year after a rough start, and topped off spending two weeks away on the western slope. Here's hoping yours and everyone else season is a winner, too!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 12:55PM
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I cut off the potato vines Monday and started yesterday with the digging. That certainly wasn't long enough to tougher skins but I'm in a hurry to get started. Taking up only 4 plants probably doesn't sound like I'm in a hurry but, hey! I also ran the sprinklers yesterday and that wet soil is heavy!

I also needed some clear ground to sow Tyfon Holland greens (new to me), Bok Choy, & Guy Lon seed. I remove about 8" of soil when I dig potatoes and pile in about 8" of compostables before returning the soil. I'd like the ground to settle but I'm in a hurry (see above). Hope the little seeds come through okay.

Took out 4 Viking Purple plants. 12#! The plants I pulled for those new potatoes only had 1.25# on them about 3 weeks ago. See why I'm reluctant to do that? There were still some shell peas in the fridge so we had creamed peas and not so new potatoes last night. Good but the leftovers will be even better today!


    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:13AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Those of you that have been around for a while know that I don't do "fancy" potatoes, but here's my "potato crop" for this year!

I plant the store-bought potatoes that start growing in my cabinet! This year I had a bunch of them growing that weren't gonna "make it" till spring, so I planted them on January 25th! Yep! You read that right! And it's called my Compost Pile Potato Garden because I got started growing them when I discovered some potatoes I had thrown out growing in my compost pile! So I "put in a couple boards" right next to the compost pile and instead of "throwing out" growing potatoes, I "plant them" in their own little compost pile now! I "empty" the "garden," put the potatoes on the bottom, and fill it up with "mostly unfinished" compost! Here's a pic taken on 05.10.14! They kept trying to grow sooner, but I kept throwing big bags of leaves on top of them to keep them from freezing solid! In the pic you can see one of the stems against the house that didn't get all the way covered when it froze one time--kind of mushy looking!

The plants had completely died down this year by early July, and I figured it was because I hadn't been watering them, so I assumed I wouldn't get anything at all and very nearly didn't even bother to dig around to see what was there, but a couple weeks ago I decided to have a look, and here's what I found! They usually come out of the "compost" much cleaner than this, but two days before I dug them up I got an inch and a half of rain in less than a half an hour, so everything was totally saturated and they were a mess this time!

And this is them all prettied up! They're on a 10" plate! It's not a lot, but considering how abused they were this year I was quite pleased! And they're SO good!

And this is the "empty" potato garden right after I dug them up! I have a few more growing ones in the cabinet, but I don't think I'm gonna have time to "plant" them!

Definitely a cute kid, Zach! And I love it when kids get interested in gardening when they're so young! Even if it's not a "full time" thing for him at this point!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 1:45AM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO


Can I cut back the foliage on the plants instead of waiting for them to die back? Probably wont get as many or as big of potatoes but I too need that spot cleared for some fall veggies and most of the potatoes don't show any signs of dying any time soon.

The ones that are, like Skybird's, is probably from lack of water more than anything else.

Looks good to my Skybird! I dug up one plant that was in the ground the other day and got maybe a handful of spuds out of it. We'll see maybe the other plants did better? Root vegetables for me are much like life and the proverbial box of chocolates.

I think I will also start growing supermarket taters. They'll be a hack of a lot cheaper that for sure. This year was kind of a last minute/impulse thing more than anything. I hadn't planned on planting potatoes this year at all.

Thanks. He fancies himself a cowboy and thinks we live on a farm lol (he made me buy him a cowboy hat and belt with a giant buckle on it the other day). He's a bona fide chicken wrangler and likes to pull the carrots more than anything. "Farms always have weeds and carrots" he said.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:46AM
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Potato farmers do all sorts of drastic things to their potato fields. They spray to keep them from sprouting after harvest - yep, that's right.

They also spray or cut the foliage to drive them into dormancy. This toughens the skins and protects them during harvest. It is supposed to be done about 3 weeks before they are lifted, if I remember right.

I'll probably be all finished with my slow food, potato harvest in 3 weeks! But anyway, cutting the vines is a first step. Harvest time should really be determined by variety. Some may as well wait for a killing frost. Others, will be brown and crispy the first of August ... some, will sprout & start to regrow if you leave them in the ground into late September ...


    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 12:23PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Well, I dug them all up today because I have fall stuff in the house that I need to put outside. Not bad for about 4 seed potatoes I reckon. The ground had turned to stone though, and I hand dug them all since I didn't want to slice em in half with the shovel. Definitely earned every one of them, and my back is now angry with me.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 6:52PM
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Yes, Zach! Not bad at all.

I don't have Colorado clay to contend with, just gravel. The beds were dug out so many times, I have an "easy time" getting below the level of the potatoes.

Then, I just stand in the trench and work my way down the bed.

The 8" of compostables that are piled in before the soil is returned, contribute to the loose soil. They also slow my digging progress as I wait until this material comes to hand. Sometimes, I only dig 2 plants while I'm there.

composting in-place

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 6:29AM
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