Monday, 12 November 2012

Growing Potatoes in Bags

There is nothing that tastes nicer than baby potatoes freshly dug, cooked in their skins and then lightly tossed in olive oil or butter and chopped fresh herbs like parsley and chives or mint.

I have been successful growing potatoes before on other properties but here we have two problems . One is that the garden wildlife digs them up and eats them no matter what I do. The second problem is we have to rely on river water for irrigation and since we share the water with fish, yabbies and other wildlife once the river gets low in summer there is no more water except for our rainwater tanks.

So this year I decided to try something different. I had bought a number of bare rooted trees that came in strong plastic bags so I decided to put these to good use as potato growing bags. I also had some horse feed bags that I could use. ( I have since seen gardening shops advertising purpose use bags to do this but these are free and I hate waste and like reusing things!).

Potatoes in horse feed bags

Whilst one of the problems I had was not wanting to waste water, I also had the problem of needing good drainage, since potatoes will rot if they get too wet. I already use mushroom compost for mulch in the garden so I decided to line the bag with mushroom compost so that would hold the moisture. I then put in a layer of dirt about 15 cm deep with some well rotted organic fertilizer mixed in. Then I cut up my potatoes that had already begun to sprout. I cut them into about three pieces making sure each piece had sprouted. I put the three pieces in the bag and then just covered them lightly with soil.

Growing Potatoes in Bags

As soon as the new leaves showed I kept building up compost, soil or straw around the shoots with the leaves until the bag was full. I watered sparingly as I didn't want it to get soggy. As you can see my plants are now well over the top of the bag and are hopefully setting potatoes under the ground. I now have to wait for flowers to appear on the plants and then the tops will die and I can pick the potatoes. 

It is really important that I don't overwater at this stage as the potatoes will rot. Lots of books say you can't use potatoes to grow that you have bought for eating. I have read that some potatoes are treated so that they won't sprout but as I only buy organic unsprayed potatoes to eat I can't see the problem. When I visit my daughter I raid her vegetable bin for any forgotten organic potatoes that have begun to sprout. My plants do look lovely and healthy but I will just have to wait and see if this has been successful. I will let you know how it goes!


Have a lovely gardening day!

Y x

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