Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Harvesting Potatoes!

For the last few weeks, the potato plants have been showing the telltale signs that it's almost time to harvest: turning yellow and dropping leaves. Normally, you would want to wait until the plants are completely dead and let the potatoes remain in the dirt for a week or so in order to thicken and firm up the skins. This helps with long-term storage. However, since we planned on eating them all right away, this wasn't necessary. Plus, we needed the space! The tomatoes have become like a jungle out there!
The start of the harvest....
 We began by removing the stakes that held up the plants, and pulled them up by the stems. They pretty much snapped off, but did reveal a couple of nice red potatoes, which encouraged us to dig! We ended up dumping the container of dirt into an empty recycling bin to sort through and find the potatoes. As you can see, we ended up with a nice harvest, given a 7 gallon pot. We got 2 very nice dinners out of them, which was about 2.5 pounds or so total. Not bad for 3 little chunks of seed potato!

The harvest! Not bad for one 7 gallon planter
 The flavor was amazing: creamy with a pronounced potato taste, and just a touch of sweetness. As far as "grading" this crop goes, I would give it an A for container growing. You get a pretty good harvest to space required ratio, the plants grow mostly vertically, with very little horizontal spreading compared to something like the broccoli, and they seem very easy to grow. I definitely recommend mounding them in the pots, as we had potatoes distributed evenly throughout the depth of the soil (although most of the biggest ones were in the bottom 1/3 of the container). We started by planting the seed chunks in about 6 inches of soil, and just kept burying the plant almost all the way to the top of its leaves until it reached the top of the pot. This seemed to encourage root development all along the stem, which of course means potatoes all throughout the pot!

Dinner that night included garden potatoes and even more garden chard!
Finally, you can grow another potato crop right away, since they are fairly quick. The only reason I'm not planting another crop right away is that we just don't have the room with everything else going crazy out there. Next season we will be growing a couple of potato varieties, and probably in even bigger containers so that we get even more of a yield.

In all, I would definitely recommend potatoes to any container gardener. Even if you have a vegetable garden planted in your yard, growing potatoes in containers makes them a lot easier to harvest, since you don't have to deal with compacted soils, roots from trees or other plants, or rocks getting in the way. Plus, you know where the potatoes are: they are confined by the walls of the planter. You can just dump it out and dig for your potatoes without worrying about accidently cutting one in half with a shovel or spade.

Until next time, happy gardening!

1 comment:

  1. Some people use old tires and just keep piling them on top and adding more dirt in a regular garden.... Then you just knock down the tires when your done.