Tale of two potato bins, with photos
In the beginning of April I planted two potato bins. One was the result of careful planning, and involved purchasing $30 worth of materials and $12 of certified organic Rose Finn Apple fingerling potatoes specially ordered online, and the other was a lark involving a $5 plastic tote on sale at the hardware store and a five organic "baby red potatoes" from the grocery store that sprouted in the back of the cupboard. I wrote a GW post about my plans for the Rose Finn fingerlings and optimistically titled it "Potato Dreams." I was hoping to keep adding straw and potting mix until there was a good two feet of soil for them to grow in. I never told anyone about the grocery store spuds because I knew they violated all the rules. Guess which scheme was successful?
You got it: Five store bought red potatoes weighing a little more than a pound planted on April 3 yeilded almost 20 pounds of large, beautiful and tasty red potatoes on July 20. One pound of Rose Finn Apple fingerlings (15 tubers) planted on April 10 yeilded a total of six teeny, tiny runts on July 31. Believe me, I sifted a ton of soil looking for more potatoes, but they were nowhere to be found. Not even have nibbled remnants. There were no signs that voles or moles or anyone else had entered the soil.
I planted the fingerlings in a Geobin composter measuring 3.5 feet in diameter and three feet tall. While not technically a container, I count it as one because I used almost one cubic foot of 5 parts pine bark fines and 2 parts compost to create a 6 inch deep bed at the bottom. I laid out the tubers and then another four inches of soil. I planted the red potatoes in the same soil mix with four inches of soil under them and another four inches on top. As the plants grew in each container, I used straw and potting mix to cover the growth each time it got about six inches above the soil level. I watered each planting as needed. The potting mix included Osmocote Plus, and I added Tomatotone each time I hilled them.
Here are the fingerlings when I planted them:
Here are the fingerlings on June 3 after being hilled a couple times with six inches of straw and 5-1-1 mix:
Here are the red potatoes after similar hilling (The plants were actually abut the same height as the fingerlings, but due to the pot size, they were in a lot less soil):
Here are the red potatoes I harvested July 20:
And here are the fingerlings I harvested July 30:
If I didn't have many other success stories in my container garden, I might be tempted to cry. Instead, I guess I'll have to chalk this up to another lesson from the school of hard knocks. And a cautionary tale for folks like me with potato dreams.
I'd love to hear your potato tales.