How To Grow Great Potatoes

potatoes

Potatoes, mashed, baked, boiled scalloped and perhaps my favourite, potato salad especially when it is made with new red potatoes, are a great food. What is even better you can grow your own potatoes and make your favourite dish with the freshest potatoes around.

You can grow potatoes on your patio or balcony in a container or in a community garden plot or your backyard.

Potatoes can be grown in old tries which I have done but do not recommend doing so for more than a season. There are materials in the tires that you do not want in your food and if you are planning to grow organically, using recycled tires is not considered to be an acceptable organic method.

However, if you want to give it a try, fill a tire with fresh soil, plant the potatoes as the potato plants begin to grow, add tires and soil, until they are stacked 3-4 tires high.

I prefer to use straw, I find it less work and cleaner; less work because there is no digging involved.

First I lay down enough cardboard to cover the area that I am using to grow potatoes. Make sure the cardboard overlaps so that no weeds get through. Then water the cardboard through; Spread either compost or well-rotted (composted) manure over the cardboard; then add another layer of cardboard and wet thoroughly.

Now put the seed potatoes approximately half a metre apart and directly on top of the cardboard. The next step is to cover the potatoes with straw 3-4 inches, at least.

Spread some compost or composted manure over the straw; than add another layer of straw and then another layer of compost and then straw until the pile is 40cm deep. Be sure to thoroughly water.

As the straw thins and the plants grow taller add straw to keep the sunlight from getting at the potatoes.

Potatoes that are grown in straw are cleaner than those that are grown in dirt, I still recommend that you wash them before eating but this will be easier to do that pulling the spuds out of the dirt. Speaking of pulling the spuds out, harvesting potatoes that are grown in straw is much easier than harvesting those that are grown in the earth.

A straw potato garden may be one of the simplest ways to provide fresh, chemical free potatoes for your family. It is also an excellent way to use part of your backyard rather than growing that resource and time waster lawn that you cannot eat or even use as a garnish.

ccourtesy flickr/Tony Austen
ccourtesy flickr/Tony Austen

planting potatoes

harvesting potatoes

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Comments 61 comments

John 8 years ago

Thanks Bob, for another helpful hub. I will be back for more later. My wife is now looking for locations in the back for the new potatoe plants.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You are welcome John, good luck with the potatoes


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Great hub bob, I have often grown mine in tires, and never even gave that a thought. I did try the hay once but the yard was so open and we had strong winds therefore I gave up as hay ended up all over the yard. So didnt try again.


Knowledge Sponge 8 years ago from Oceanside, California

This is a wonderful hub. Thank you. I do have an alternate suggestion to growing the potatoes that would be green. I know how some people argue that the method with the tires makes it eaiser to harvest them, due to the fact that all you have to do is knock down the tires and dig through the soil inside them. There is another way though... Many winerys are throwing away or selling old barrels for a low price, the majority of which are about 50 gallons or more. My great aunt used to grow her potatoes in one of these barrels and it worked wonders. It also made harvesting them really easy, too. Using this method, you can make sure you don't miss any when you harvest. Happy planting.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

The barrels are a good idea.


Peter M. Lopez profile image

Peter M. Lopez 8 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

Excellent hub, my wife's family were potato farmers, but on a much larger scale, I'm going to have to tell her about growing them in straw. That's a new one for me. I want to give it a try now. What is the appropriate potato growing season?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

It depends upon where you live Peter.


Peter M. Lopez profile image

Peter M. Lopez 8 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

Any idea for Texas?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

now is a good time as frost is unlikely. :-)


johnr54 profile image

johnr54 8 years ago from Texas

It's been a few years since I grew potatoes (we have a pretty heavy clay to deal with) but I always thought there was nothing like the new potatoes fresh from the garden. Dig em up and take them straight into the house.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

straight from the garden is still the best.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

I didn't know that you could grow potatoes in straw Bob. One of the memorable sights I have as a kid is seeing all those potato storehouses in Idaho on the way to Canada on our yearly trips.I love potatoes- any way you cook um.Question? My son gave me some potatoes to grow- they were sprouting roots in the bag- can I just put those right into the ground? He cracked me up when he gave them to me to grow- he knows I love to garden!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You can put them in the ground, some are likely to grow, I have tried it with limited to success, go for it.


C.J. King profile image

C.J. King 8 years ago from Southeast

We need to be growing everything or else we will eventually starve with the price of food and gas prices combined.

Thanks,

C.J.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You are welcome and yes the more we can grow in our communities the more food secure we become.


smartnash.avi profile image

smartnash.avi 8 years ago from india

thanks for ur useful information bob


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

you are welcome.


eastcoastireland profile image

eastcoastireland 8 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

qwoe, that sounds pretty easy. have you tried this?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

yes, I have.


02SmithA profile image

02SmithA 8 years ago from Ohio

Thanks for all the info! Potatoes are probably the food that can be made to taste great the most ways of any food.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks for stopping by, potatoes can be prepared in many ways.


koncling profile image

koncling 8 years ago from Nice Winding Room

ooooooow.. I love potatoes..

do you have some potatoes recipes ?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author


DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

Bob, can you gorw them for fall harvest by planting in summer? Or do they not like the heat and humidity. I thought about making squares that I can stack like the tires, only from scrap wood? 2x6's?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Donna, the squares sound like a good idea, where do you live, I ask because the length of the growing season matters,


dafla 8 years ago

Great info! I actually want to grow sweet potatoes without soil, but someone says they won't get sweet if you do. I've grown potatoes in hay before. I built a ring 3' across from chicken wire and rebar (to hold it steady and keep it from falling over) and put the potatoes on about 6" of soil, then kept adding hay. All I had to do to harvest was take the chicken wire off, and they just fell onto the ground. It's best to wash them well, though, because mold can grow in the hay.

I might try the Rubbermaid container method this year. I need to do container veggies, because I'm only doing a small 10' square plot for my veggies. BTW, in SW Florida, this is our planting season.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Here it is harvest season, too cool for me to grow sweet opotaoes but I do enjoy eating them.


briston 7 years ago

Great stuff Bob! I did this last year w/ chicken wire and plan to do the same again this year. This time i'll reinforce my stacks w/ some crossbeams as dafla suggests though! Great option for a city lot or concrete prairie urban dweller.

Make sure you let that manure fully compost before adding - manure that isn't fully "through its process" has been related to black spots on your spuds.

Take 'er easy Bob and keep the good tips coming.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Good advice, re:manure and thanks for stopping by.


blackjava profile image

blackjava 7 years ago from Canada

Great Hubs. I am looking forward to the new season. I am in a community garden and am always looking for new ways to garden.

Have you heard of square foot gardening. I am going to try it this year.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

I doknow about Mel Bartholmew and sq ft gardening,seems like a good idea. thanks for stopping by.


Judy Cullins profile image

Judy Cullins 7 years ago from La Mesa, CA

=Bob, This is the one I've been waiting for. WE are going great with a "victory" garden, and I tool love potatoes! Thanks for the great info.

Judy Cullins, wwww.bookcoaching.com


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You are welcome, I am creating my own victory garden this summer. Thanks for dropping by.


Jim Ruttledge 7 years ago

Thanks Bob.---but I was wondering if the seed potatoes really need to be certified seed potatoes. I bought some small organic butter potatoes from Trader Joes, and they started developing eyes after they were stored in a drawer for a few days. Can I plant these and expect a crop, even though they were not purchased as seed potatoes and are not certified?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Jim, it is possible they will grow; I have trird this with some success.


Jo Sharpe 7 years ago

Hi Bob, where can I find seed potatoes in South Florida


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

a local plant nursery should be able to help.


daphne 7 years ago

I am in northern California. When is a good time to plant?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

For the best information I would check with a local supplier of seed potatoes.


Complaicency profile image

Complaicency 6 years ago from Wales, UK

Fantastic Hub bob. seriously you are an outstanding hubber. ive looked over a few and they are so well written and extremely informative. It's a great shame i havnt found you earlier. Great work


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks for your kind words, and happy gardening.


Cheryl 6 years ago

I come from Minnesota and now I am in Texas along the coast. I can almost spit in the ocean from here. I don't know if potatoes grow here because it is so hot outside. I think they might grow during the winter or what the calander says is winter. Usually no real winter here. Do you have any suggestions....Is the soil to salty here?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

First step is to test the soil.


Debora 6 years ago

fist time potato grower, started seed potatoes in soil and started covering with straw after they we about 6-8 inches tall, I have a soaker system under the straw doing the watering, 1 plant though is showing signs of leafcurling and some browning, any advice?


violet 6 years ago

i would like to know what kind of straw normal or mixed... but this really helped me so Thanx


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Glad it helped, the straw I have used was normal.


Lisa S. 6 years ago

We harvested a lot of wet, moldy hay last year, too much rain. I am growing potatoes in one of the round bales. I opened slots in the bale, dropped a tater in and covered it up with a shovel full of compost. So far, so good.

They are growing like crazy and I am piling hay up around the plants.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Excellent, thanks for comenting.


Douglas 6 years ago

How long from planting to harvesting,approx


e* 6 years ago

did the mould (in the hay) make the potatoes mouldy? I have mouldy haylage I wanted to use....


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

The potatoes were fine, no obvious trace of mould.


David 5 years ago

Bob, your'e on here a lot. I noticed that every other comment is from you.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick Author

I do not think it is that high.


Julie McM profile image

Julie McM 5 years ago from Southern California

Thanks for a very helpful hub, Bob. We grow a lot of our own food, but have never had much success with potatoes. I'll be giving your straw method a try next season.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Let us know how it works for you, happy growing.


annie b 5 years ago

I'm on the coast, literally, in Northern CA. I plant my organic Yellow Finns in March and harvest in July or August. Mostly grow them in big half wine barrels I pick up for $25 a piece. I plant them in a nice mix of soil and homemade compost and give them diluted kelp meal every two or three weeks as they grow. Always get a beautiful crop and the tiny ones I miss when I harvest poke along through the winter and begin to grow in the spring, so they yield, too. Nice hub. Thanks Bob.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick Author

The half wine barrels are great, thanks for sharing,


SherryDigital profile image

SherryDigital 4 years ago from Here. There. Everywhere. Currently: Portland, OR

Great! I was thinking about planting some potatoes today. Bookmarked and voted up!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 4 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Happy growing and thanks for dropping by.


toomuchmint profile image

toomuchmint 4 years ago

I tried potatoes last year with no success. Too much dry weather combined with too much rain to kill most of the plants. After reading your article, I think I'll give them another try. Thanks!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 4 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Happy growing and thanks for stopping by.

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