Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great Potato Experiment, Year Two

On Saturday, we turned over the tire stack containing our early season potatoes. We really didn't know what to expect, as we had tried this method last year without success. We had very tall, lush plants, and zero spuds. This time we planted three stacks - one with earlies, one with mid season varieties, and one late season. The earlies are supposed to mature in 30 to 60 days, and it as been much longer than that. The plants finally started to die back, so we went ahead and dismantled it to see what we had. Again this year, we had very tall, healthy, fast growing foliage.

I removed the top tire...nothing. No big surprise there.

I removed the second tire...nothing. Okay, fine, maybe they're further down.

I removed the third tire...still nothing. Just plant stems and dirt. No evidence of root growth at all from any point on the original stems. I was rapidly losing hope.

I dislodged the bottom tire and moved it aside. I didn't really see anything, and was pretty sure it was a wash again this time. As I poked around in the dirt, however, something caught my eye. Something unmistakably RED. A spud! A real potato! I was so darned excited that we had managed to grow ONE potato that I was prepared to call the whole endeavor something like a success. There turned out to be several potatoes. About seven or so are big enough to eat, and a few more that are about marble-sized.

We've read over and over again that this method works and can produce copious potatoes in a smaller space than rows would demand. I'm inclined to try rows next time, however, since they all seemed to grow right at ground level. The idea is that when you bury the stem under more soil, new roots will grow out from there and form tubers. The higher you pile the soil, the more roots will sprout and the more tubers will grow from them. This clearly didn't happen - the portions of the plant that we continually buried under soil showed no new root growth at all.

We still have the two remaining stacks to go - I'll post an update when we find out what they contain. In the meantime, if anyone has tried this method, or knows why we're not growing spuds, please speak up! The experiment continues...

We WILL grow potatoes, in a measurable quantity. Maybe not this year, but someday.

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