Update: Growing Potatoes Above Ground

This year I decided to try an experiment with growing potatoes. I had heard about growing potatoes above ground, and I wanted to give it a try. In the spring I designed a couple of vessels which I used to grow my spuds and I planted one potato in the traditional way as a control. See June 2010 for the original blog post.

Well, I’m writing this post through a film of misty tears; I don’t think I’ve had a bigger disappointment in the garden to date (ok, a little artistic license here).

My potatoes grown above ground were a complete failure.

Last week I dug up my “control” hill of red potatoes to find that I had six small spuds. The control was a standard potato planting that I had hilled in the usual way as the tops grew. It couldn’t be too hard to beat six tubers with my highly advanced above ground system, right?

Today I skipped excitedly, bin in hand, to unzip my above ground plastic repurposed tent slash potato bin and reap the rewards. I slowly unzipped then stood at a respectable distance with my bin at the ready to catch the bounty. Instead I found a bunch of mouldy straw and leaves and, ultimately, two small potatoes just below the soil surface.

This couldn’t be happening…

I decided that if I was to have any potatoes for supper I had to reveal the contents of my above ground experimental chick-wire bin. Again, all I found was a pile of straw and, thankfully, some potatoes in the soil at the back of the bin where I had hilled one of the plants that grew outside the confines of the chicken wire. In other words, a regularly hilled potato plant – a “control” plant.

Sigh.

Too much water? Too little? Too aggressive with the leaves and straw? I guess these questions will be answered next year when I try once again to successfully grow potatoes above ground. This can’t be rocket science, people.

Well, at least I’ll have a few potatoes for supper tonight; tomorrow it’s off to the farmer’s market.

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2 thoughts on “Update: Growing Potatoes Above Ground

  1. We tried the above ground method too (in old tires!) and the ones with the straw did not work out. Only a few little piddly baby potatoes. Not sure why- I’d heard so many raves about planting in straw…

  2. Don’t use straw. Potatoes really don’t like it and it molds/rots the seed potatoes.

    Next time just use a lot of leaves (see if your neighbors will let you take their leaves) and get some sand and clay dirt anywhere you can get it. Why? Because potatoes LOVE acidic soil. Straw is not acidic. Pine trees can give off acidic content, some leaves like birch and willow give off acidic content. Try that with one pile next year and I will bet you get more potatoes and your next “experiment” will work out for the best. Hope that helps. 🙂

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