Those Are Some Very Baby Potatoes

I just thought I update you on how my ‘potatoes grown in straw‘ experiment is going.

Right now, my Red Norland potatoes that I planted on May 19th are just beginning to bloom. That would be eight weeks from planting. (This, by the way, is a crucial time to keep your potatoes regularly watered to get large, scab-free potatoes – read more about that in this article.)

Potato Flower

One cool thing about this style of growing potatoes is that you can easily check on the progress of the tubers forming underground (or rather, understraw). I was curious to know just how big my little potatoes were at this point, so I carefully pulled away the straw at the base of the plant. And lo, and behold…

Very baby Potato

There it was. A tiny little potato not much bigger than a large pea.

So I learned/confirmed a few things today.

#1. Flowers on plants = formation of little spuds

#2. Potatoes grown in straw are going to be wonderfully clean

#3. I won’t be eating baby potatoes for at least a couple of weeks.


Growing Potatoes In Straw

This year I tried something new. I had heard rumors of other people doing it, but I didn’t know of anyone around here trying it.
So this spring, when I planted my potatoes, I didn’t plant them. Instead, I just dropped ’em on the ground in a somewhat straight row. No digging. No shovel involvement whatsoever. Kinda like this…

Planting potatoes in straw

Then, after I had them all layed out, I covered them all with about eight inches of straw, like this…

Planting potatoes in straw

Then I waited. And waited. And now, about a month later, they look like this…

Planting potatoes in straw

So what do I hope to gain by growing potatoes in straw like this? Well, two things actually.

#1. Less weeding

Thus far in the month that the potatoes and the weeds have had to grow, I’ve only had to pull out about five thistles that have popped through. These have been extra easy to remove because the root goes through the straw and is easily pulled out. Plus, no prickles under the straw either.

#2. Bigger Yield

Last year when I regularly watered my potatoes from the time they flowered until the end, I got the biggest potatoes I had ever grown. So the theory goes, if the potatoes are mulched, the soil won’t dry out nearly as fast. Thus even if I don’t water regularly, my yield will be increased because I won’t lose my water to evaporation. But that part’s still just a theory – I’ll have the proof one way or the other this fall. So stay tuned!

Update: June 22, 2008

And lest I forget…

#3. Easier Harvest

Rake back the straw, and there are all your plump, CLEAN potatoes – what could be easier?

Update: July 16, 2008

Check on the progress of these straw-grown potatoes…

Compost, Mulch, Etc

Composting Made Easy… Or Something Like That

CompostWho knew that throwing all your dead plants, moldy vegetables, and manure from your pet pig in a big pile to let them rot, and then growing your own food in that stuff would be a great idea? Go figure, eh? But that pile of mushy tomatoes and wilty carrots is one of the best things you can do for your garden. Full of the very things your plants need to thrive, compost is a gardener’s black gold.That’s why I decided I needed a compost pile. After all, I had the space, I had the ingredients, and I had the motive – why not make my own compost? After all, how hard could it be?