HOLLY ACRES NURSERY
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TRASH CAN POTATOES
Things You'll Need:
30-gallon plastic garbage can
Drill with a 1/2-inch bit
Organic 5-10-5 fertilizer
1.Order seed potatoes. You won't
need many. Begin the planting process in early spring after the last
2.Turn the garbage can upside down and drill several holes in the bottom of the can. Add a few around the outside wall, 3 to 6 inches up from the bottom. Without good drainage, the potatoes rot in a hurry.
3.Fill the can two-thirds full with potting soil. Mix in 1 cup of fertilizer and set aside.
4.Cut any large potatoes into pieces with no fewer then three eyes per piece. Let the potatoes dry out on the cut side before you plant them.
5.Place the cured potatoes in the can. Space them five inches apart and cover with four to six inches of potting soil. Set the can in an area that receives four to six hours of direct sunlight.
6.Water thoroughly and keep the soil moist but not soggy during the growing season. Don't let the soil dry out or you'll end up with misshaped potatoes. On the really hot summer days, your potato might need to be watered daily. Move the can to a slightly shadier location on the hottest days to avoid frequent watering.
7.As the plants grow in the can, mound up compost around the plant stems, keeping the leaves uncovered. As they grow more, add more compost. By the end of the growing season, you will have filled the can to the top. Keep it watered.
8.Wait for the flowers to start to fade and grow what looks like berries when the growing season ends. Harvest a few potatoes by reaching into the soft soil and picking a few, then covering everything else back up with compost. These early potatoes are "new" potatoes and they spoil quickly, so eat them now. For bigger, storing potatoes, wait to harvest until after the green plants have turned brown and dried up or died back. Just dump the entire can over and pick out your potatoes. The soil can be collected and added to a flower garden. You just don't want to plant potatoes, tomatoes, peppers or eggplants in that potting soil and compost mix.
shoots are 6-8" tall, gently hill the vines by pulling soil from both sides
of the row until 3-4"of the shoot is left exposed. Repeat the process again
every two weeks for a month. Potatoes will grow from the covered stem above
the seed potato, so the more stem you hill around, the higher your yield.
Fertilizing Your Potato Crop
Potato plants can be side-dressed every two weeks from shoot emergence to commencement of heavy flowering with an Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer or by foliar spraying early in the morning with an organic liquid seaweed/fish emulsion extract. DO NOT use high-nitrogen foliar spray or soil drenches like Miracle-Gro or Scotts. If your soil is not in the acid range, then we recommend using an Acid-Based Organic Fertilizer, which will cut down on or even eliminate common potato problems like scab.
Harvesting Your Potato Crop
Baby, or "new", potatoes can be harvested starting about two weeks after flowering ends by gently digging into the side of the hill and removing 2" tubers. Leave plenty of tubers in the hill to continue to mature into full-sized potatoes. At the end of the season when tubers are mature, bend and break, or cut off, the vines. Leave the potatoes in the ground for a week or two after the vines have died down. This increases the storage quality of the tubers by allowing the skin to "set", or firm up. Dig carefully to avoid scarring or bruising, and spread the crop in the shade to dry and allow further skin set to occur. Separate any damaged potatoes and eat them within a week or two. Do not mix damaged potatoes with firm ones for storage.
Storing Your Potato Crop
Your potato crop will keep best in a fully darkened room at 36-40 degrees, with enough humidity to prevent dessication, and with air circulation for respiration. Try to achieve those optimum conditions, as light and/or warmth will turn potatoes green and promote sprouting and softening. Check your stored crop frequently and consume or discard any potatoes that are not perfectly firm.