Friday, January 25, 2013

Let's Talk about POTATOES!

Last summer about July-ish I decided I wanted to try to grow some potatoes.  I love potatoes, I love white potatoes, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, purple yams just about any kind of potato you can think of, I love.  I even love vegetables that look  like potatoes, for instance Taro and varieties of Taro.  So when I decided in the middle of summer to attempt to grow some, my husband said it couldn't be done.  "We don't have the right kind of dirt", he said... I take words like that as a personal challenge. 

I read a few bits of information on the Internet, then I looked up some videos on You Tube.  I decided I could just "wing it" on the russets but I had an idea from You Tube that I wanted to try.  I made my area for the potatoes ready by adding a lot more llama pooh and some composted hay and shoveled that in pretty good.  I made some wide rows and cut some store bought potatoes making sure I had an eye in each cut piece.

  I did not dip them in rooting hormones or anything fancy, I just put them in the dirt about 4-6" down.  I really don't know if that is the correct amount or not but that's what I did.  The green shoots started coming thru the dirt about 2 weeks later. 

While I was waiting for the shoots to come up I started reviewing more information and videos about sweet potato's.  I ended up buying two medium sweet potatoes and putting them in a jar of water.  I changed the water about every other day.  They started sprouting in about a week or 10 days.

 When the sprouts were about 6-8" long, I snapped them off and put the green shoots in water and waited for them to develop roots.  I continued to let the potatoes develop more shoots in case my rooting green shoots failed.  When the green shoots developed roots at about 2 weeks and grew to about 2-3" long, I took them out to the garden and planted them about every 2-3 feet.  Most of them made it just fine but I did have my back ups just in case.  The shoots below are a picture from the Internet and do not show the roots.  I read that you can skip that step but I wanted to insure success since it was the first time I had attempted planting.

I live in an area that has very long hot summers and it often stays hot into October and is still warm in November so about the end of September I noticed the regular potatoes were dying off after blooming.  We dug a few smaller plants up and there were some 2-3 inch tubers but not anything to brag about which could be because I used store bought potatoes not seed potatoes.  About the middle of October I dug up the rest of the potatoes and there were some decent sized potatoes but a lot were anything from marble sized to lemon  sized.

 I don't feel this was a failure.  It was a learning experience that I will try again.  I am going to plant earlier this year and I will plant from store bought potatoes again just because I am stubborn and I think it can be done.  However, I am going to talk to my cousin's husband Johnny who grows potatoes in his garden and they were much bigger than mine! 

Our sweet potatoes were still going strong long after we harvested most of the garden so I let them be.  About mid November my son went out and dug them up.  What a surprise!  They were all very decent!  Some were small, some were big, and some were everywhere in between.  I figured we harvested about 30-40 lbs of sweet potatoes from those two single store bought sweet potatoes - and I could have planted twice as many if I had planted more of the shoots.  We washed them and laid them out on the counter top to dry then I layered them in a bin to "season".  I read somewhere that sweet potatoes should season for a week or so to develop flavor and harden the rind for storage.  The sweet potatoes below are from my own hands, my own garden and for my own family.

We harvested the sweet potatoes just in time for Thanksgiving and had them on our Holiday dinner table.  It was so wonderful to have all our vegetables and side dishes come from our very own garden and from our own labors.  It is so awesome to really feel the empowerment that comes from knowing you can dig, plant, grow and harvest what you need to feed your family! 
The mashed potatoes came from the garden, the sweet potatoes came from the garden, the Swiss Chard came from the garden, you can't see it but the tomato salad came from the garden.  The biscuits were yeast biscuits and made from  scratch, the ham and the apple ciders were store bought...hmmmm, this gives me ideas for next year...

Try to remember even potatoes can be planted in a small area or in containers as long as you have sun and water you can grow something to feed your family and it can be a family project.  Involve the kids to encourage them to eat what they grow and to help develope a love for growing.  So to wind it up, I will plant earlier, plant more varieties and I will also try some tire planting, hay planting and other ways that are supposedly good ways to plant potatoes.  Stay tuned for progress reports!

Growing potatoes in stacked tires

Growing potatoes in contractors garbage bags

Growing potatoes in a grow bag. 


  1. Thanks Goldrush Grandma, that was a very informative post. I'm hoping to grow some sweet potatoes next spring. but I wasn't sure how to go about getting the "slips". I may also try regular potatoes this Autumn (I live in Australia)

  2. Thanks for the help. I am growing sweet potatoes for the first time this year and found your input most useful.

  3. Thank you for this post on sweet potatoes. Appreciated your sense of adventure very much. I shared it here.

    1. Thank you! I have been absent from my blog for awhile as we have so much going on in the last year but am gearing up to get back on track again. I appreciate your comments...happy growing!


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