If you are a potato lover you know that a home grown potato is a delicacy! It is a treat to eat a potato straight from the garden. My favorite is, without a doubt, the new potatoes harvested before they reach maturity. Boil the baby potatoes, add fresh garden peas with a rich cream sauce, and you have heaven in a pot! Potatoes make for a hearty side dish with any meal especially if you are feeding hungry boys. I have two, and they are always hungry! Potatoes are the go to dish that complete the feeding frenzy of severe hunger (so they say!) Growing my own potatoes has had some challenges through the years. I have tried many ways to solve issues with soil and insects. From mounding to mulching to organic soaps, I have had some unsuccessful crops, which have included few potatoes to a wipe out of the plant leaves before they flower. This year I planted my potatoes in the elevated Eco garden System.
Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in the Eco Garden System. After years of growing potatoes in the ground this system was the answer to the age old dilemma of potato bugs! In gardening conversations, many gardeners sigh when you mention theses pesky little destroyers, and some will say “Just move your plot!” Well, I am at the top of hill now and nowhere to go! In comes the Eco Garden System and wow, a season without bugs! The plants were beautiful, and the flowers were stunning. Best of all, no bugs! The Eco system has many of the ideal conditions for growing potatoes.
Potatoes should be planted at least 2 weeks before your last frost. Seed potatoes can be cut to the size of an egg with at least one eye on each piece. When planting your potatoes they should not be any deeper than 6 inches and at least 2 feet apart. I did plant my seed potatoes closer in the Eco System, and they grew without crowding. One of the ideal conditions for planting potatoes is a moist but not wet soil. The elevated Eco system is a self-watering system, so the soil maintains a consistent moisture level that is ideal for planting. After you plant a seed potato you should wait for the plant to emerge before watering, which is at least 2 weeks after planting. This ensures that the seed won’t rot due to overwatering. You don’t want the soil to dry out you just don’t want it saturated. The Eco garden maintains the moisture without this worry. Plant and leave alone.
It was a joy to watch these potatoes grow. The leaves were healthy with a deep green color, and, the flowers were pink and white due to the variation of the potatoes. They grew without the worry of watering and weeding and of course bugs! The self-watering system made sure there was enough water to accommodate each plant as it grew. When it came time to harvest, it was easy to pull potatoes when needed. When the vines turned yellow and died off naturally I left the potatoes for a week or more to cure in the soil. This helped the skins to harden for better storage.
Storage of potatoes can be a challenge unless you live in a home with a built in root cellar. Storing potatoes at 38-45 degrees is recommended. Storing at 38 degrees ensures a longer lasting potato, however, at this temperature the starch can turn to sugar making it a sweeter tasting potato. If you are storing between 40 and 50 degrees, it will help them maintain their starch, but they will not last as long. The humidity level should be relatively high at about 90%. It helps to brush off the excess dirt and store in layers between newspaper or moss. Some people will wash the potatoes, which is fine as long as they are completely dry when you store them. I always wait to wash the potato right before I use it. I had very little potato damage in the Eco garden system, which meant the majority of my harvest was stored.
I am excited to plant potatoes again this spring in this easy to use garden system. I am looking to try a variety of different potatoes with the fingerlings being the top of my list. Planting in this garden means no more water issues or soil issues. Standing back and watching them grow beats climbing the hill trying to escape the pesky potato bug! All for the love of a potato!