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Potatoes on a Shoestring Budget

So many people today love the idea of being able to plant and consume their own foods, but struggle with some products that take extra room or even care to ensure proper growth and development.

Potatoes remain to be one of the most popular dinner table items across the United States and the rest of the world. There are hundreds of varieties available, which range in size, color, and flavor. There are so many ways to cook and prepare them, allowing potatoes to satisfy people's cravings is different ways. Whether its baked, mashed, roasted, or fried, potatoes are considered to be a comfort food. The potato is considered to be the top vegetable crop in the world and can be harvested year-round . There are also many benefits to eating potatoes. Potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, and pantothenic acid. When prepared in a healthy manner, potatoes are a high fiber food that can offer protection against cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Now back to you gardeners who would love to include potatoes in your garden but fear that you lack the skill or space to grow potatoes. Adding potatoes to your garden is a simple task that only requires a few items and a bit of patience.

ITEMS YOU WILL NEED:
-
Barrel

- Potato Seeds

- Loose Planting Mix

- Compost

- Soil

There are five steps that you will need to follow in order to grow your own potatoes in a barrel.

1.  SELECT AND PREPARE A CONTAINER

You can pick just about any container that you want, from a 50 gallon trash barrel, a half whiskey barrel planter, food grade barrels, or a commercially-available potato planter. Any 2 to 3 foot tall container will work to house your potatoes. Be sure to check our website, yourgardenstop.com, for different barrels along with many other gardening essentials you may need.

 Be sure to clean your container with a mild bleach solution if you are using a older or previously used container. Good drainage is essential for the cultivation of potatoes so if your container does not already have them, you will need to cut or drill a series of large drainage holes in the bottom and sides of your container. You may also cut the bottom off entirely and place the container onto a well-drained surface, such as your garden bed.

2.  CHOOSE A VARIETY OF POTATO AND BEGIN TO PLANT THEM

You can find seed potatoes in nurseries early in the growing season but the good news is that you will only have to buy them once! If you are able to, you should try to "chit" or sprout your potatoes before planting them by setting them out in egg cartons in a cool room that is away from direct sunlight.

 Fill in the bottom of your container with about 6 inches of loose planting mix and compost. The best mix to buy is one with a peat moss-like soil amendment, so that the soil will not become too compacted and it will help restore moisture to the roots.

Then, add some seed potatoes on the layer of soil, making sure to leave plenty of space between each cube. Loosely backfill the potatoes with another 6 inches of soil and compost mix, along with water to dampen the soil. Be sure to keep the soil damp at all times but do NOT overwater them.

 3.  ADD MORE SOIL

When the potatoes have about 6 to 8 inches of foliage, add another layer of soil-compost mix cover about 1/2 to 3/4 of the visible stems and foliage. Repeat this process of allowing the sprouts to grow then covering the sprouts and moistening the soil as the plants grow up toward the top of the barrel.

4.  HARVEST THE POTATOES

After about 10 weeks or about the time the plants begin to flower and start to turn yellow, your potatoes should be ready to harvest. Carefully dig down with your hands to inspect the top-most layer. If the potatoes are ready, dump out the barrel onto a tarp and begin to collect your potatoes.

 

5.  ENJOY!

 

Sources:

Hurst, Timothy. 2010. "4 Simple Steps to Grow a Hundred Pounds of Potatoes in a Barrel" GreenUpgrader. http://greenupgrader.com/11708/4-simple-steps-to-grow-a-hundred-pounds-of-potatoes-in-a-barrel/

The George Mateljan Foundation. Potatoes. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=48

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