Just waiting…

The colors of the leaves are beginning to turn. Across the street, my neighbor already has quite a few leaves fallen onto his lawn. I think I’ll tell him he can give them to me instead of taking them to the trash. If I have energy I might even go over there with the leaf vacuum once there’s enough accumulated and just shred them all myself. It’ll be good exercise.

So I’ve called the tree trimming company and they will come by with a couple yards of tree mulch when they are in the area. I can’t imagine it will take very long, since the main office is about 2 miles from here. Sarah (my sister) said we could use their truck to haul the manure so I’m waiting to hear back from the manure guy on that. It’s up north a bit, but we’re already going up that way on Sunday with my sister and her family to pick pumpkins. I can’t wait to get sugar pumpkins processed – pumpkin bread is one of my absolute favorite things of the season.

Today I didn’t do much outside, it’s REALLY windy out! Nice and sunny, but only in the 50’s. Ballerina Girl and I went outside for a bit, I took inventory of the cedar boards I have left and decided I could do one more potato box is I only build them 2 feet high. I guess I should figure out if I’ll get a better yield if I have 2 boxes that are 3 or 4 feet high, vs. 3 boxes that are 2 feet high.

On the bottom right you can see one of the potato boxes. They are 2.5′ square, and 1 foot high right now. Basically, I’ll fill them to 6 inches deep, plant my potatoes, and then fill them with straw, leaf mold, or whatever mulch I have on hand as the plant grows up. The basic idea is that you continue to pile up more and more, forcing the plant to continue to grow taller… and more space between the actual root and the plant means more potato growing space. We’ll see how it works. My plan is to take the remaining boards that I have and screw them into a square so I can just set them on top. They will stay in place because of those wooden stakes, and I’ll probably have to add more, but we’ll see how it goes. So I am not sure how I should do it. I suppose that since I’m a novice at growing potatoes, the more potato plants I have the better luck, right? So I could make another potato box and then have 3 of them. I’ll have to research it a bit.

I feel strangely on edge with no pressing project. Weird!

Anyway so we got a little bit of the area cleaned up, we did get rain last night so the cardboard is nice and soggy, waiting for the tree mulch ๐Ÿ™‚ Ballerina Girl and I took the rest of the boards and put them into the garage since I probably won’t need them until springtime. (except what I needed to make one more box, just in case). She’s such a great helper! Sometimes, at least ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  1. Bethany, I posted this to the SFG forum, probably before you were reading there. Most everybody had very poor yields in their high-rise boxes, and I’m just not convinced that’s the way to go.

    1. The optimum depth for planting a seed potato is 4-6″. Deeper planting results in lower yields. (That was from memory, mine not being so good any more…I have since found 3″ is the acceptable depth)

    2. When the plant reaches a height of 6″, you hill it. This isn’t so much for providing more room for the tubers to form, but rather for keeping them from turning green.

    3. Most of the potatoes grow near the seed, not higher on the buried stem.

    OK…so what happens when you keep adding board and soil and board and soil and board and soil? Are you providing more space for the tubers to grow (remember, they are going to form down there around the seed potato), or are you stressing out a plant that WANTS to form tubers, but has to expand all of its energy pushing up through all that soil to form those leaves that it has to have to provide the energy to form the tubers?

    So…in my opinion, the bins are a good idea, but the high-rises are not. Why not try filling it with soil to the top of the first board, lay your seed potato on that, add one board and fill with soil to a depth of 3-6″. Let your plants grow to 6″ high. Add ONE more board and fill with soil. That’s all. You don’t need a high-rise.

    Alternately, try a second level of potato seeds when the first has reached 6″ of growth and top them with 4-6″ of soil (effectively hilling crop one while planting crop two). Go one more board and soil when all the growth reaches another 6-inches.

    sinfonian has corresponded with some who pooh-pooh what I’ve said, and insist they get high yields from the high-rises, so I guess it’s each man/granny to his/her own!

    I’m also going to chime in here with some potato growing advise found in “Crockett’s Victory Garden” by James Underwood Crockett (my personal garden bible, it has served me well for thirty years).

    Potatoes do well in a light, sandy soil that is slightly acid.

    You can plant the whole potato, but you get more for your money and a larger yield by cutting the potato into sections the size of an egg, making sure each section has 2-3 eyes. Leave these sections exposed to sunshine and air for 3-4 days to dry the cut surfaces.

    Plant the sections, cut side down, and cover with about 3″ of soil.

    Crockett didn’t wait for the growth to reach 6″. He began adding soil as soon as, and each time the plant showed growth, until it had been “hilled”.

  2. Wow, thanks Granny! Verrrry interesting. I wonder if I should do an experiment and try both? I imagine my results will be somewhat similar to yours… different soil of course but similar climate. I do agree though that I think I’d be better off with 3 bins vs. 2, I just think that even if the high-rise bins do work, I’d have higher yields from 3 medium ones than 2 high ones. I think you just clinched it for me ๐Ÿ™‚

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