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.
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.