Patio Potatoes

Posted October 24th, 2013 by Nanette Heffernan. Comment (0).

Potatoes in Wine Barrels

Growing potatoes is one of the easiest homesteading projects you can accomplish. I prefer to grow them in containers because there are no critters to contend with, I can move them around when needed, and harvesting is a snap.

Every inch of planting space in my yard is precious, so anytime I can grow something in a container is a bonus. I plant potatoes in half wine barrels because I don’t like to grow food in plastic. I place them on the southeast side of the house during the hot summer months, and then move them to a warmer location for winter, giving me a year-round crop. Planting in barrels also makes harvesting a snap. When the flowers begin to die off, I simply place a tarp on the ground, tip the barrel over, and pick out the potatoes. Generally we yield twenty pounds per half-barrel crop.

You can start your crop with organic store bought potatoes (conventional potatoes have been sprayed so they won’t form eyes). Allow the potatoes to begin to grow eyes and then cut them into four sections, with at least two eyes on each. Let the sections rest on the counter for a few days to “scab” over. Place one-foot of potting soil in a half wine barrel (with drain holes drilled in the bottom). Set potato pieces on top of the soil, five inches apart, eyes up. Run a piece of perforated drip hose around the potatoes pieces then cover with another eighteen inches of potting soil. Fill the rest of the container with straw or hay to provide support to the stalks when they emerge. Your potatoes will actually grow between the top of the soil and the seed piece of potato. Harvest about a month after the flowering stage ends. You will have larger potatoes on the bottom and smaller ones up top.

Odds and Ends:

–    If you don’t have a drip system installed you can water with a hose, taking care not to soak the hay or straw on top, which will cause it to mold.

–    Don’t limit yourself to the potatoes available at your local grocery store. Venture out online and look for some unique potato seeds. There are over 500 varieties of potatoes so branch out and enjoy!

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