It has been roughly 6 weeks since we planted seed potatoes in garbage bags. Our potato plants are getting HUGE!
Since potatoes grow underground, there is no way to know exactly what our crop will yield until it is harvest time. However, the plants are growing 4 inches or more per week, and I can see potato roots when I shift the soil a bit, so I believe they are doing well. A few more weeks and we will know for sure!!!
A Little History
At the end of April, we planted 5 or 6 seed potatoes in garbage bags. We planted two varieties: Russet Potatoes and Red Skin Potatoes, so we have two bags growing currently.
For details on how to plant seed potatoes, read my article: It’s Potato Planting Time. This includes step by step instructions on how to grow potatoes in garbage bags.
Once planted, I needed to move my bags onto pallets, which caused the seed potatoes to shift. I redistributed them and made sure to leave the potatoes sprouts about an inch out of the soil.
For details on the first few weeks with my potato plants, read my article: Update: Growing Potatoes In Garbage Bags.
Between weeks three and four I added the first layer of soil to my garbage bags. The idea is to cover the leaves and stalk of the plant with 4-6 inches of soil once the above ground portion of the plant becomes 12-18 inches high. In doing so, the newly buried portion would start to root and create another layer of potatoes (called tubers).
It was during this time I started to notice holes in my plant leaves. If you have this issue as well, you’ll want to read my article: Garden Pests.
The week after I added soil to my potato plants they grew 4 more inches, indicating the need for another round of soil. However, it was so rainy that week that I never made it out to the garden to add the soil.
A few days passed and the plants were nearly two feet above soil level and beginning to flower! Past experience indicated that once the plants began to flower, they were nearing the end of their growth cycle and it was almost time for harvesting.
I became concerned as I anticipated at least two more layers of soil and much more growing time for my potatoes to reap a substantially sized crop.
For details on this phase of my potatoes, read my blog post: Oh No, My Potatoes Have Flowers!
My concerns over an early crop were unfounded as research showed that some varieties of potatoes flower, not because they are ending their life cycle, but just because.
Tips for Adding Layers to Your Garbage Bag Potatoes
It’s now 6 weeks into the growth of our potatoes and they are ready for another round of soil. When I added my last round of soil two weeks ago, I added 6-8 inches because the plants were so large.
Here are some tips on when and how to add layers to your container potatoes:
- Your potatoes are ready for a layer of soil when the above ground plants are 12 – 18 inches above the soil.
- When adding a layer of soil, cover the green part of the plant by 1/3. So, if you have 12 inches above soil, add 4 inches of soil to your container.
- Loose soil is best for your potatoes so they can easily spread their roots and grow more tubers.
- To create loose soil, mix 1/3 peat moss with 2/3 potting soil.
- Make sure you moisten your soil before adding it to your containers. Never add dry soil to your garden.
- Do not pack down the soil, but layer it loosely over your plants. The more room your plant has to root, the more tubers you will receive.
- Add liquid fertilizer to your water once a week to provide additional nutrients to your plants.
I have roughly one more month of growth before it’s time to harvest my potatoes. Generally, it takes three months from planting until harvest, but each plant is a little different.
Watch for your potato plant to flower and begin to die off. Stop watering the plant as you begin to see the signs of it dying.
Once the above ground portion is completed dead, it is time to harvest your crop.
The best way to preserve your crop is to allow the tubers to dry in the sun for 2-3 days. This will toughen the skin.
You may then store you potatoes in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
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