Hot Potato! Hot Potato!

There is just something about potatoes pulled right from the ground. They really don’t taste like store-bought ones at all. Last year, I mixed store-bought red potatoes with the homegrown (because I didn’t have enough from the garden) and Tony wanted to know “what the heck” was wrong with the ‘other’ potatoes. I told him they were from the store. He then chose to only eat the potatoes from the garden and he’s not a picky eater at all.

Why do I grow my own potatoes? One word: PESTICIDES. I’ve seen one too many Dr. Oz shows on why organic potatoes are the way to go. Growing my own, I KNOW they are organic instead of just some unregulated label they stick on the bag.

But with the cutting garden going in, there is really no room for potatoes in the raised beds. So, just like I did with my strawberries, I’m getting creative here too.

We’ve all seen on Pinterest how you can grow potatoes in a tower, a wire cylinder lined with straw, or even in a laundry basket, right? Seriously though, did you ever try searching “growing potatoes” on Pinterest? Potatoes are easy to grow so I can see why you can grow them just about anywhere.

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The problem I have with plastic containers is the chemicals. What is the point of growing them with organic pest control, in organic soil if you’re going to grow them in plastic bins that will bake in the sun? Wouldn’t that lace the soil and then the veggies with chemicals? Not that I’m crazy about this, but it IS one way I can control what I allow into my food.

So, because potatoes will grow just about anywhere I’m going to try to get a bit creative here just like I did with my strawberries. I got bushel baskets from my MIL (for free). She had gotten them from an auction years ago and never used them. She probably has about 20-30 baskets hiding out in her shed.

So here’s what I did. I planted 2 varieties of potatoes.. Red organic potatoes (early season) and regular potato seed.

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You do have to get actual seed potatoes and the time to buy them is in mid-March to right around now. Eventually stores will not sell them into the summer months because the potatoes will actually bake in the ground if the soil is too hot.

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You then have to cut the potato to separate the sprout. The sprouts will turn into your potato plants. I usually make sure they are about golfball size.

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Here are my potato pieces that will eventually be plants.

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They say you need to treat them with an anti-fungus powder, but I never do and they are always fine. I hope I don’t jinx myself this year though. Here is a started potato bushel basket:

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And the red potatoes are already starting to come up:

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This is the first spring I’m not teaching, so it’s so rewarding that I got a head start on my garden.  I already have lettuce, strawberries, and potatoes growing and it’s only the start of May! I’m pretty excited about this.

 

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Starting more Strawberries: Creative Solution

Strawberry plants come like this in case you didn’t know- they are dormant so it’s okay they aren’t in soil. You can get a pack of them for $7-9. I found them in Mid April at all of my local greenhouses. Strawberries.org is also a very helpful reference for finding the strawberry type you might need.

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Just a reminder, there are three basic types of strawberries, June-bearing, Ever-bearing, Day-neutral.

  • June-bearing: produce strawberries in June for about 2-3 weeks. These are great for canning, strawberry pies, and jam because you really get a lot in a short amount of time.
  • Ever-bearing: I call these ‘garden snaking strawberries’ because they produce just enough strawberries all summer long to snack on.
  • Day Neutral: I don’t really ever plant these because the strawberries are small and they really don’t produce as much as the June-bearing.

This year I planted three different varieties. They are all technically June-bearing, but they will produce fruit at different points in the strawberry season:

  • Honeoye: Early-season
  • Allstar: Mid-season
  • Sparkle: Late-season

My thought is that I will have strawberries the entire way through the strawberry season. I might be giving strawberries away!

The problem? I do already have a strawberry raised bed located beside our house, not at the garden but there is no room for additional strawberry plants by the house or in the garden. So, I had to get creative. I’m not quite sure it’s going to work at all… I have no idea.

I made strawberry boxes. I figured you can plant them in planters or plastic hanging bags, why not in a crate? It will have good drainage and full-sun and that’s what strawberries love.

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So, I lined it with a straw blanket (The stores were out of burlap so I had to get creative). The straw blanket is usually used for newly seeded yards to help the grass grow, but I figured it would help the soil drain great. It also has a plastic netting inside so it’ll keep in the dirt.

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We (by we, I mean Tony) screwed them into the garden fence and added soil: (FYI- the bag was full of rain water too, so it was HEAVY. That’s why the hubs is making such a strenuous face). 

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I planted the strawberries. I’m thinking I over crowded the box (the recommendation is 1 plant per square foot or in a row-12-18 inches apart), but I don’t care I’ll just pull them out if they stop producing. If you want the actual planting strawberry suggestion instead of my ‘we will see if this works’ way, you can check out this great Youtube Video: How to Grow Strawberries, but honestly I just don’t have that kind of room. We are planning on extending our garden next year, so maybe then I do it the right way.

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I’ll keep you posted on how they do!