I’m just going to put this out there. I suck at growing potatoes. It doesn’t feel good to admit this. Most gardeners and books will tell you it’s so easy. Just fill up a garbage can a little at a time with your potato starts and before you know it, Â you’ll have a can-full of potatoes! Uh, yeah, I’ve done that. I’ve spread the tarp out on the lawn, dumped the garbage can onto the blue plastic with anticipation, and had my hopes dashed upon finding a pound of baby potatoes, at best. That’s it?!
To my credit, I never gave up. No, I tried again. I’ll try potato towers this time. Yeah, I thought, that’ll do the trick! I didn’t really have the straw it suggested or the containers, but I’d make do with what I had. Oh, and they grew. The plants got huge as I filled up the containers, a little at a time. This time, I thought, I’ve done it. When the plants died off, a sign that it’s time to harvest, I unhooked the towers expecting potatoes to come raining down. But, what came raining down, was dirt, some dead plant material, and just under two pounds of potatoes. Again, I whined, that’s it?!
So, I’m back at it. The third time’s the charm, right? It better be or I’m going to leave this potato business to my favorite farmers’ market potato guys at Olsen’s. I’m going with burlap this time. Similar method, different container. Following these guidelines, I planted five burlap sacks with Yukon Golds and Purple Majestic potato starts. I know there are a lot of variables that could have affected my potato harvest. It could have been water that did it, overwatering/soggy soil (rot) or dried out soil (a common problem in container gardening, especially in warm, sunny spots). It also could have been the depth of the soil or the way I was covering the emerging plants with soil. Maybe it could have been overcrowding. Just looking at the plant placement in my potato tower picture above makes me cringe – what kind of spacing is that? They’re practically falling out of the tower!Â Whatever the reason, I’m back on the saddle with my fingers crossed, hoping that this summer, I’ll be reaping the harvest I’ve always hoped for.
What do you do to harvest potatoes at home?