Potatoes in Smart Pots (Results/Pics)

farkee(Florida)July 3, 2010

At the very end of my season decided to try Smart pots.

FIRST EXPERIMENT:

Had just 2 organic potatoes from Whole Foods that had sprouted.

Medium: old, used potting mix (peat based ) refreshed with just a little pine bark fines and some perlite.

Used time release (dynamite) and syn. liquid fert --also now and again organic granular on top.

Tops grew fantastic --I even added a piece on top so I could keep adding potting mix. But I don't think this is necessary. (I had folded the pot down and put the potatoes on top of about 5 inches of potting mix. Then as it grew folded the container up and kept adding new mix.)

Can't find my pic of the nice green growth. First pic is about 3 months old and I am anxiously waiting for the top to die more so I can empty it out.

Got 5 pounds 8 oz. from 2 potatoes using old potting mix.

SECOND EXPERIMENT:

I am also always trying to figure out how to increase yield in organically grown containers--(yes I know all about the drawbacks of organics in containers--but my 'hero' is Charles Wilber and he has phenomenal success growing organically in whiskey barrels (How To Grow World Record Tomatoes).

Back to potatoes--started 2 smart pots (past my growing season but I did it anyway). Same old, used peat based mix.

Used 3 seed potatoes of Yukon Gold in each.

Both grew similarly on top--nice green growth.

RESULTS:

Got 5 pounds of potatoes grown with synthetic fertilizer.

Got 2 and 1/2 pounds of potatoes grown with organic fert.

Did a completely blind TASTE TEST and organic potatoes 'won' . Yes, I could tell a difference--this even surprised me. But of course I wasn't satisfied with their yield so try and try again is my motto. (Also learned I prefer red potatoes over Yukon gold.)

(Synthetic fert./used mix)

(Syn. Fert.)

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farkee(Florida)

Wanted to clarify --that when I wrote that I kept adding new mix to the Smart Pot it was still the same refreshed potting mix. I had a kiddie plastic swimming pool filled with old mix and I just kept filling the Smart Pot up with that as the plant grew.

Smart Pot directions, by the way, say you can get away with a cheaper dense mix as the fabric breathes.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 6:17PM
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chocolocks

OOOOoo! This is exciting! You have really good results. I have planted potatoes in an Earthbox. It is my first time planting potatoes. How will I know when they are ready?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 11:11AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Nice!
Did you mention the size of these particular pots?
I'm trying to estimate pounds of potatoes per gallon of pot.
Thanks,

Josh

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 11:24AM
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buylady(z5b IL)

we grow pot. alla time but not like this really neat idea you'll no when to dig the vines die tators are ready to dig..

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 12:33PM
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farkee(Florida)

I bought these last year and I can't remember what I bought but I measured the base and it is 20" and their product site says 20 gallons. I will double check this for you though as they don't look that big to me. Anyway, I knew I did not want to fill with brand new potting mix.

BUT while on site I just found this:

http://www.smartpots.com/growing-potatoes-in-containers

I could have used smaller pots and put in more seed potatoes but for the first experiment I only had 2 potatoes anyway and got the 5 pounds 8 oz.

The second attempt was done 'outside' of my regular growing season so I will do this again in the fall.

I think the second batch may have done better with adding a little cheap potting 'soil' to the old, used mix though I can hardly believe I am saying this as I never use potting 'soil' in containers. But I am thinking it would have held on to the nutrients better in a more retentive mix but still well draining. I am guessing that even a little bagged cow manure or compost could be added and who knows maybe the flavor would be improved.)

Smart Pot instructions recommend a 50 / 50 mix of garden soil and compost.

I wouldn't do that but I think you could play around with used mixes and cheaper 'stuff' with these fabric pots.

Here is a link that might be useful: Potatoes in Smart Pots

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 1:25PM
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farkee(Florida)

chocolocks,

buylady is correct--just wait until the tops die. I also pay attention to when I plant them and how long that variety is supposed to take.

One thing though --I am trying to imagine them in an earthbox-- I have many earthboxes and like them alot and I do think it is possible in the EB but I don't think you can't follow the usual directions. .

Potatoes have to be planted in sort of a trench and then as they grow up you add more and more mix but always leaving some green leaves poking through so that they continue to grow.

Or in the case of the Smart Pot I just layed them on top of 5 or 6 inches of potting mix and covered with more mix. The sides were rolled down so that they got sun. THen as it grew I rolled up the sides and added more mix. When it got to the top I just let it go on its own until the tops died.

Good luck with your potatoes in EB. Post some pics.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 6:34PM
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farkee(Florida)

oops meant to say 'I don't think you can follow the usual directions when growing potatoes.'

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 6:40PM
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chocolocks

@Farkee, I hope I planted correctly. I had some potatoes that were sprouting and planted them up to the sprout. Since then, I have mounded more soil up around the plants. Here is a shot of my plants.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 10:21PM
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farkee(Florida)

So far so good. Good luck.

Keep experimenting. It is all a learning experience. I tried potatoes grown in straight perlite in an EB with the aeration screen removed but when I looked for potatoes they were all pea size. Yet the tops looked great. Oh well, learn something every time. Growing in perlite was something different to try but I think it would be easier with drip fertigation. (see page 5 of the link)

Here is a link that might be useful: page 5/ Potatoes in Perlite

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 11:32PM
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mickie2007

I'm going to try it this year. Those who use granular fert... do you put the full measure in that first 3rd of planting mix?
Or do you mix everything and set aside the mix to add later on as the spuds grow? Or... mix in 1/3 of the fertilizer into the 1/3 of the mix??

I have 15 gal Smart Pots, and plan to use 1 cup of 5-10-10, with foliar fertilizer spray later on. My media will consist of 1/3 El Cheapo potting soil, 1/3 coir, and 1/3 used Pro-mix BX... all mixed in a trash can and kept ready to use.

Does that sound OK? It's adding the fertilizer that has me confused.

Mickie

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 8:55PM
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