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Potatoes, the Wonder Crop?

June 3rd, 2009

The potato produces more calories and protein than any other food crop in terms of space and amount of time. It also stores for up to 6 months under good conditions and can be grown in marginal soil anywhere from sea level up to 13,000 feet. The potato produces about 10,000 pounds of food per acre. A 100 foot row can vield 150-300 pounds of potatoes per year. The average American currently eats about 140 pounds of potatoes per year.
Since Christy asked about my potato growing methods yesterday I thought I’d talk about potatoes today. I don’t grow a ton of potatoes, I have a good local source for organic potatoes, so I prefer to use my garden space for other crops, like tomatoes. I do plant a small batch of potatoes though, usually just 10 seed potatoes. They get their own 2 x 5 ft raised bed.
When they grow tall enough I add another box and then fill it with soil. Last year I only got one extra box put on, but this year I may do 1 more making it a total of about 3 feet tall. I’m hoping to get a pretty good potato harvest from this small space by building up. Last year I tried the add straw and not soil method and I wasn’t very happy with the results, so this year they’re getting good old dirt.
Next year I would like to grow a few different varieties of potatoes for fun, anyone have any great suggestions?

How do you grow your potatoes?

23 Comments to “Potatoes, the Wonder Crop?”
  1. Faith on June 3, 2009 at 6:27 am

    I like your raised box method better than the one I’ve been doing. I also tried adding straw and it’s been a disaster from that point on.

    However, finding the extra dirt has been what my challenge was. Good soil on this land is hard to come by. Next year I hope will be easier.

    I went with fingerlings. I was told they are the best for this method; Yellow Finn, Red Pontiac, and Russian Banana.


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  2. Daphne on June 3, 2009 at 7:48 am

    I’m doing the bin method too, but I have a chicken wire bin. I don’t add levels as I go. I just fill it up as the plants grow. I lack dirt, so I’m adding compost. I’m crossing my fingers that I don’t get really bad scab because of this. When I run out of compost I’ll quit filling it up. I’m thinking I’ll get a foot and a half, though I did trench the potatoes first so I should have about two feet of potatoes. If it works. I’ve never done it before.

    Daphne’s last blog post.. Garden Blogger’s Death Day

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  3. Nate on June 3, 2009 at 7:54 am

    We have 3 10′ rows of potatoes in the garden plot and 8 plants in a raised box in our back yard. Kennebecs, All Blues, and one other white kind I can never remember. The plot plants were trenched and will be mounded as much as we can. I’m serious considering taking dirt from a big pile available to us and using that to hill even more. Box in the back yard is modular – 3′ x 2′, made from 2x4s. We have enough bands of 2x4s to make it as high as we could want (on the order of 3′ tall).

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  4. warren on June 3, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Ours go in the ground as seed potatoes also. We have a “regular’ garden so they get a row or two of their own!

    warren’s last blog post.. Still boiling water

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  5. kristin on June 3, 2009 at 8:30 am

    I don’t even know how many potatoes we planted this year. A lot. And a lot of varieties, all of which are specific to New York State, though, so no help to you. We don’t have raised beds, just one big plot, so the potatoes get dropped into holes, covered with a couple of inches of dirt, and then hilled a few times. Hilling is far and away my least favorite garden chore. Boo. But I do love potatoes, so I suck it up.

    kristin’s last blog post.. Things I’m Not Good At

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  6. Dave on June 3, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I’ve been wanting to try the purple potatoes. Haven’t found them yet. I never got any real potatoes going this year, I may try a couple since our growing season is so long. I’d better do it soon though!

    Dave’s last blog post.. Finding Decorative Solutions to Drainage Problems

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  7. brian on June 3, 2009 at 9:46 am

    We planted ours in plastic trash cans, and covered them with bagged compost as they grew. I ran out of compost and tried a layer of straw, it was fine in two of the three cans but the plants in the third can died. I waited a few weeks and I dumped it to see what I would find. I found one small chunk of seed potato and nothing else. Its seems that I turned my potato can into a compost barrel. No more straw for us.

    brian’s last blog post.. Chico bicycle music festival

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    • Susy on June 3, 2009 at 9:51 pm

      I agree, the straw didn’t work well for me either. I found it attracted slugs like CRAZY! From now on, only dirt.

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  8. KitsapFG on June 3, 2009 at 11:04 am

    I garden in raised boxed beds and I always grow a very large amount of potatoes as we do not buy veggies but rely on our garden 100% for all vegetable needs. Wish I could say the same for fruits but we are only about 50% self sufficient on those. I grow four varieties each year: Caribe, Yukon Gold, Red Cloud, and Butte. I save seed tubers at the end of the season for the next year’s garden planting. I use a trenching method in my beds that I have documented on a webpage at my website. Here’s the link if you are interested in reading and seeing more about it:

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  9. Renee on June 3, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I’m glad you explained how you grow up. I was wondering when I saw the photo in the first post. That’s a great idea – using raised beds.

    I’m using the garbage can method and a couple of huge pots. Man, they take a lot of soil – and they’re growing like crazy.

    I’m just growing russets and Kennebec’s. It’s more of a science experiment with the kids than anything else.

    Renee’s last blog post.. What’s that Bug?

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    • Susy on June 3, 2009 at 9:50 pm

      My mom’s using the garbage can method as well, hers are doing wonderfully! She got hers planted a couple weeks before mine. She’s using half compost half peat in hers.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Dan on June 3, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Last year I grew potatoes in a raised bed and tried traditionally hilling them, that didn’t work well at all. This year I am trying a potato bin that I will fill from 20-36″ depending on how far my soil goes. I am also growing potatoes in a large container and in compost bags. I’m trying it all this year. Good varieties to try are late season producers. As I have been told they are the only ones that will produce extra clutches of potatoes up the stem. I particularly like fingerling potatoes, I am growing a white & red variety this season.

    Dan’s last blog post.. Tuesday Photography

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  11. Pampered Mom on June 3, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I actually just wrote a bit about our potatoes today. BUT…what I really want is a set-up like I mentioned in my post – a 4sq ft (probably 8 sq ft) potato tower like the one I saw over here. We’ve got three different kinds of potatoes this year, but at the moment I can’t quite remember what!

    Pampered Mom’s last blog post.. A somewhat belated garden update

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    • Susy on June 3, 2009 at 9:49 pm

      That is very interesting. I’ve seen something similar elsewhere.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Carol on June 3, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I say, “Honey, can we have some potatoes in the garden this year?”

    I am spoiled. :)

    Reply to Carol's comment

    • Susy on June 3, 2009 at 9:49 pm

      You are spoiled Carol!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Steven on July 12, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    So how do you know when to harvest the potatoes in the climbing-tower beds?
    .-= Steven´s last blog ..Home Improvement =-.

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    • Susy on July 13, 2009 at 12:06 am

      You just take off the boxes and the kind of knock over the tower. I’m hoping to knock mine into a wheel barrow and use the soil elsewhere to fill raised beds.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Durgan on September 13, 2009 at 9:29 pm 21 August 2009 How a Potato Plant Grows
    Potato growing test box was opened today. The pictures literally speak for themselves. Clearly there is no advantage in carrying out excessive hilling when growing potatoes. The purpose of hlling is to insure the tubers are covered. For comparison one Pontiac Red was dug in the same row, which was almost identical to the test box potato in appearance. Summary: Potato Test Box

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    • Susy on September 13, 2009 at 9:37 pm

      Thanks for the link, the photos are GREAT!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  15. Harvesting Yukon Gold Potatoes | Chiot's Run on October 18, 2009 at 4:47 am

    […] October 6, I harvested my potatoes my from raised potato bed (red this blog post to see how I planted my potatoes). When harvested the first pIant, I was disappointed because I […]

    Reply to Harvesting Yukon Gold Potatoes | Chiot’s Run's comment

  16. Planting potatoes | Chiot's Run on April 9, 2010 at 4:47 am

    […] they’re versatile, quick, delicious and healthy. So I decided since they’re supposed to be the most productive plant for the garden space they take up it would be worthwhile to plant a lot of potatoes. Another great […]

    Reply to Planting potatoes | Chiot’s Run's comment

  17. In the Garden on April 12, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    […] potatoes in boxes, and idea I got from Chiot’s Run. . […]

    Reply to In the Garden's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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