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Friday, April 24, 2009

Survival Gardening–Potatoes on Your Patio?

The other evening I turned on a local Christian radio station to hear what was being discussed on a certain program. Instead of Bible teaching, they were discussing gardening basics and encouraging new gardeners. No doubt they recognize the surge in gardening this year and last year. They mentioned several crops that are easy to grow. However, I didn’t hear them mention potatoes. Maybe I tuned in too late.

Last year I tried growing a few potatoes in grow bags of soil. Unfortunately, they didn’t produce hardly anything but vines. I suspect the problem was bottom watering. The bags were sitting in black trays used for mixing cement, repurposed for gardening. This year I’m trying it again, but I’ll top water this time and see if it makes a difference.

I’m only trying this with three five gallon bags, and I’ve got plenty more potatoes planted elsewhere, so it’s not a great loss if the experiment fails again. I’m optimistic though, as every gardener is who experiments.

Speaking of growing potatoes elsewhere, I’ve got 15 three gallon nursery buckets of soil planted with a potato in each. I’ve gotten some pretty decent harvests in the past doing it this way. You can do the same thing and grow potatoes on your patio or in the yard, if you don’t have a decent gardening space. Oh, sure, it’s cheap to buy potatoes at the grocery store, but it’s a lot of fun to have your own, and they’re so easy to grow.

Potatoes will grow in straw, or you could put soil or compost in old tires. I remember reading somewhere that a family grew potatoes in an old garbage can. When the vines came up, they’d pile compost up around them, and they harvested quite a lot of potatoes from a small space.

Another way to grow potatoes is in a potato bin from Gardener’s Supply Company. This item is exclusive to Gardener’s supply. It’s a 15-gallon fabric nursery pot, 18" diameter by 14-1/2" high, suitable for planting four potatoes in each bin. The fabric allows for heat dissipation, and lets water drain off if you get too much. Gardener’s Supply says they got as much as 13 pounds of potatoes from one of these bins. They can be used a second year, and they fold for storage.

Perhaps this adaptability to different growing places is one reason potatoes make such a good survival gardening favorite. Of course, as you no doubt know, potatoes can be cooked in any number of dishes, making them versatile in a culinary sense, too.

If you haven’t planted potatoes yet, it’s not too late. Time’s getting away though, and potatoes do well in cool weather, as long as they don’t freeze. You can grow potatoes you buy from the grocery store or buy them from just about any local store that sells plants in the spring.

To get potato bins from Gardener’s Supply, click on their logo to go to their home page. Then type key words potato bin in the search box, and that will take you to a page where you'll see a picture of the potato bin. Click the picture to get more info and to place your order.

Gardener's Supply Company

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