Straw Bale Gardening: Potatoes

My gardening season is just beginning but for many of you the season has been underway. I am finalizing my recession garden plans and moving onto my square foot garden designs. March 17th -- St. Pratie's Day
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mike Licht,

The one thing I like about square foot gardening is that you can always add a garden later in the season if you find you have more plants to plant or want to add an additional mini garden. This season a have a small curved straw bale garden, tiered straw bale garden and a straw bale square garden, which is perfect for heavy feeding crops.

But one question I am asked a lot is about roots crops. Normally you do not plant root crops in straw bales. But I do have a straw planting technique for potatoes that is perfect for me. It saves space, time and the backache from digging up potatoes. I love gardening – but I do not like digging root crops!

Planting Potatoes in Straw.

Get your potatoes seeds ready. I cut the potatoes, leaving several eyes on each piece and let them dry for about two days before I plant them. During this time find some decent soil, and a container. I often use a bushel basket for my first crop.

Note: your container can be as large as you want. I usually go for a bushel basket or smaller garbage can. I have used old wood crates (check for stains that could be toxic). Also make sure the container has drainage holes.

Once you have your container place it in the spot you plan to leave it during the growing season. The location you choose should get six to eight hours of sun. Add 6 inches of dirt to the bottom of the container; place the potato seeds in the soil and cover. Water well and go plant more of your garden.

In about a week you will see new growth coming out of the ground. When the growth is about 6 inches tall, cover with straw. Repeat this process during the summer.

The potatoes will set out new roots in the straw and in turn will produce more potatoes. I save time, space and digging using this method.
There are two other added benefits. Since the potatoes grow in straw they are dirt free and very clean. The other benefit is that I don’t get potato bugs using this method.

The only problem I had was one year I grow them in the garden with no container and used hay. It was a big mistake. The hay attracted mice looking for seeds and I lost most of the crop.

One other plus to growing potatoes using straw and a container, you always have small potatoes to use and they are very easy to harvest, just pull the straw back and pick them. I also grow a new crop of potatoes mid summer.

Try growing potatoes in straw. I think you will enjoy it. This growing process really saves space and makes growing potatoes fun.

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