Have you heard of this gardening “revelation?”
Becoming more and more popular, is small garden gardening or creating balcony or container gardens where you can grow some veggies, fruits and herbs fresh on your own with limited space which is where the potato box was born.
Basically in a 4 square foot box, constructed of wood, you can plant 100 POUNDS worth of potatoes to be harvested throughout the season and stored for your use. Since we have such large gardening plans this year and we have previously planted potatoes that we didnt harvest, and we are using up every inch of our garden, a potato box would allow us to easily grow as many pounds of potatoes as we like and can manage in a small area and use the rest of the garden for other veggies!
The way the box is constructed, you can remove the lower boards as the potatoes are ready to be harvested or you can wait until the fall and harvest all of the potatoes at once! We have decided that up to 100 pounds of potatoes is a bit much for us, so we are going to make a 2 square foot box instead and have picked up a bag of early harvest potatoes and late harvest King Edward potatoes to try out.
Of course, after we bought the potato starters, I read an article that mentioned that early or mid-season potatoes don’t work very well in potato boxes, so we are going to put those on the bottom so we can harvest them sooner if need be and the rest of the box will be filled with the King Edward potatoes. We are going to be eating lots and lots of potatoes if our potato box is successful!
So the only thing left to do is to buy the soil and timber and construct the box! Basically, the frame of the box is constructed then each of the panels are screwed into the frame, so that as the first layer of potatoes grow long vines/flowers, then you can fill the box with more starter potatoes and keep going until you fill the box – then wait for the first layer of potatoes to be ready for harvest or hold off until the fall and harvest them all at once!
Another neat aspect of the potato box is that if you purchase higher quality wood or wood that will stand up well to weathering, you can de-construct the potato box after your last harvest, store it and bring it back out the following year to repeat the process all over again! So the small amount you would spend on timber will see you through multiple growing seasons.
Aside from assembling the box, we will need to run a hose through the height of the box or be sure to water the box thoroughly through out the growing season so that the potatoes don’t get dried out or drowned in water, which will result in knobby and scabby potatoes. I didn’t realize that you would have to wait a couple of weeks after the harvest (or just before, depending on how you do it) for the skins to firm up and become the potatoes that you would purchase at the store, but I absolutely can’t wait to get this box going and for the potatoes to begin growing! This fall has the potential to be SO rewarding, in a gardening sense!
Look forward to another post on the actual construction of our box and the progress as the season progresses! In the meantime, have a look at these starter potato boxes!
This box has been created by Bobbi Junod over at Creating a Sacred Garden last year and you can read the posts about it and the different potato varieties that she tried, here. It rained a bit too much and rotted her plants so that the potatoes didn’t grow they way they should have which leads me to believe that I will need to construct a tent or watch the plants to remove the danger (as much as I can) of over-watering.
Bruce with the Green Roof Growers made a 3 square foot box filled with Inca Red Potatoes and had much more success than Bobbi did, but only managed to find a peanut in the first layers of his box with the withering of the first of the flowers! The potato box has had differing rates of success for many people – while others tend to be able to harvest up to 70 pounds worth of potatoes each season. What do they do with all of those potatoes??
Here is a photo of what a regular potato plant looks like while it is growing. Contrary to popular belief, the new potatoes grow between the starter spuds and the plants that grow off of them, so more and more potatoes will grow if you continue to let the plants grow taller and carefully cover the growing plant stalks with more soil.
In the end, Bruce realized that he had planted mid-season potatoes, which along with the early season potatoes only set one crop of potatoes so from one bag of starter potatoes, he only managed just under two pounds of potatoes in his large box.
It does make me feel better that we got a bag of late-season potatoes, although I was willing to try planting the first layer of the box with early season spuds then mid-season spuds in the next layer and late-season in the remaining layers but my husband talked me out of it (without knowing these little details about the varying seasonal spuds) saying that each bag of starter potatoes would produce a ridiculous amount of potatoes. Even though we aren’t sure to what degree we will be successful with our potato box, we have to assume that we will be at least partly successful and have a plan to use all of our harvest or to give it away at the very least to friends in order to consume all of that may be produced.
This article at Love Apple Farms contains even more information on growing potatoes in small containers instead of a potato box if you don’t have room for a potato box and would like to experiment with this yourself!
We are headed to Scotland this weekend and once we return, we will be building and setting our first layer in our potato box, so keep your eyes peeled for more posts and construction instructions! In the meantime, we are just enjoying reading about them and improving our plans for our box to maximize our success!