Saturday, March 28, 2015

Potatoes not-in-a-barrel

bed comes complete with steel dog shield
and horseradish bug shield
Following the disappointing finale of 2014's Potatoes-in-a-Barrel experiment, I decided to make a modification.  The soil is fine for potatoes; last year's control group, planted normally in a 2-level raised bed, produced respectable results. Not fantastic, but they put the barrel to shame. But because the barreled plants did so well*, I still like the barrel idea. I just need a way to make the plants' uber-growth become tuber growth.

So I built and planted a single-layer raised bed, and once everything is respectably growing, I'm going to add a second level of blocks and fill it up with the leaf-compost on the left.  This year I won't go any higher than two levels since I don't want the soil to get too warm. But it also ought to prove once and for all whether raising the soil level on growing plants can be all that it's chalked up to be.

If it works, I'll probably tear it back to one level to start again, or maybe half-empty another bed to plant next spring in the interests of crop rotation. In either case, the top layer(s) will be pretty much 100% compost.

Also added today:
2 Almond trees
4 Chestnut trees
Some strawberries to replace the ones my dog moved in order to plant a deer jawbone on the east end of the strawberry patch.

* if by 'well' we ignore their primary purpose, which was, you know, growing potatoes.  But they measured almost 6' from the top of the plants to the lowest potato, pathetic as that potato was.


  1. Nice to see you keep trying. My potatoes in the ground do very well. The negative to doing it that way is that it is more work. But I have the room I guess.

    I find potatoes for me are easier to keep the weeds out of because they are tough. Plant them, rake them a couple times with the weeds are tiny, and they canopy over till the weeds don't hurt any more. If I wasn't so lazy I could hoe them too and have no weeds at all. Bottom line, I have plenty of room, so If I need more potatoes I can just plant more. So I don't think I'll dedicate any raised bed space to spuds.

    Interesting about the nut trees. I should have planted some of those ten years ago, I'd probably be getting nuts by now. Are Chestnuts any good?

  2. Are Chestnuts any good?

    Roasted on an open fire, I've heard. Actually, I have very mature black walnuts and pecans, so I get 5 gallon buckets of nuts about every other year as it is. But I thought that adding a few more types might be worthwhile. These are dwarfs, so I can grow them beneath the power line without the Asphlundt guys giving them back to me as wood mulch.

    Potatoes are way too much work for as little as you can buy them, which is why I keep looking for easier ways to grow them. Maybe digging them from 6-8" of leaf mulch will make them easy enough, I don't know. But I have lots of raised beds and containers, so I don't mind dedicating one to potatoes just to see what happens...

    I'm also going to try some leaf vegetables like mustard and collards this year in addition to spinach just for fun. If I'm not careful, I'll turn into a Southron for sure.

  3. Potatoes are way too much work for as little as you can buy them, which is why I keep looking for easier ways to grow them.

    Yeah, they are cheap when on sale. I'm happy to grow them when they are at regular price. My home grown potatoes are also much better tasting.

    I think I can grow walnuts. I'm sure almonds and pecans are out. Maybe I should move south.

  4. Saw a cool vid over the weekend by a guy who grows 9' corn in cloth walmart bags in a kiddie pool somewhere up north (Brainerd, I think). I'm gonna try some of his funny buckets too.