Potato growing in containers without water

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by ClissAT, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    If I am to get potatoes this year I have to change my growing method.
    This includes changing the location, the growing medium, the amount of water I use.
    Wow, nothing left to change, really!

    Since I am having success (relatively, given the recent rodent attacks) using containers, it was a simple extension to attempt to grow the potatoes in containers but using a slightly different method.
    The potting mix I devised for the other container growing I felt would be too wet & dense for potatoes.
    So I have broken it down 50/50 with fine shredded sugar cane mulch, the type purchased in tight plastic bales from garden suppliers.
    My potting mix recipe makes a fairly wet brew due to the inclusion of so much soaked coir so I didn't have to add anymore water when mixing the cane mulch through it.
    I make up a 2gal bucket of this combo mix each time. I use a very large container to mix the cane mulch through the wet potting mix so I don't ruin the airiness & fluffiness of the potting mix. Then gently decant it into the bucket & I don't press it down when applying it to the potato plants.

    My growing method is to place a layer of this mulch/potting mix combo in the bottom of the container, lay the sprouted potatoes ontop, then as the leaves grow, top up every couple of days to almost cover the leaves with more mulch/potting mix combo.

    The pink container is half full now while the kipflers are lagging behind. They have shot but now having been placed in their pot, they are just sitting there. Maybe they need warmer weather or more moisture. I have the containers in a fairly sunny place where the sun shines on them from 9am to 3.30pm. Of course there is the shade from the slats but the soil is still warm.

    So far I have only misted the pots 2-3times in total & only very lightly on the few very dry days.

    There are no drainage holes in these pots although the old blue bucket I am using is cracked to halfway down from a previous batch of potatoes 4yrs ago.

    The red Pontiacs are really taking their time to shoot. I hope they get on with it or they will be too late in their season.

    growing potatoes on verandah.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
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  2. letsgo

    letsgo Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Be interested in how it all goes. I've got some growing in containers too, they are starting to die back now the top part of the plant so don't know when the spuds are ready or even if there are spuds in there. Will have to have a feel one day soon.
     
  3. letsgo

    letsgo Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I had a little look and I have spuds growing

    I have a question. The top of the plants have all died off will the spuds keep growing or are they all done now?
     
  4. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    They might resprout if you don't remove them. Generally, once the potato plant dies back it's done.

    I only have potatoes starting to sprout now... they will grow through spring then die off ready for harvesting.

    I'm growing them in a wood chip bed again but this time with a thick cane mulch.
     
  5. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    It's very interesting Mark that home grown potatoes seem to do better in a very course growing medium.
    The medium has to be a little moist but at the same time needs to be very open.

    Yet farmed potatoes grow like crazy in fields of red or black heavy dirt! Go figure :dunno:
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  6. Neill

    Neill Member Premium Member

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    I'm wondering if the choice of growing medium will affect the taste of the spud?
     
  7. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Interesting thought Neill. I guess I'll find out if I succeed in growing these babies to maturity.
     
  8. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    My spuds are growing very fast. They have reached the top of the 40lt bucket.
    Some shoots got left behind because they didn't grow fast enough although some are still making their way upwards. So hopefully most will survive the upward trip to the light.
    All I'll do now is top up to current level as this medium subsides & give the tub an occasional mist just to keep the medium moist. There are no drain holes in this tub so my other requirement is to make sure it doesn't get rained on which is not likely but always possible.

    The potato plants will grow much taller & spill out everywhere now, but that's how it goes.
    Because I only topped up each time the plants grew a little, the stems are supposed to act like roots & develop rootlets all through that medium I have placed in the tub & become spuds.
    Well that's the theory anyway!

    verandah potatoes.jpg
     
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  9. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    They look great. You're obviously taking good care of these shoots as it's not as easily as you've made it look. I've been using planter bags with coarse potting mix like material and the leaves have started to die off. We have had a very dry and mild winter this time around.
     
  10. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Thanks Ash. It turns out to be not completely without water!
    I have topped up the container a few times since posting about this trial. But now it is quite full & the plants are around 15cm out the top.

    The weather has been so dry. I've been caught out by the dryness with some of my other vegetable growing containers using a lot more water than I hoped they would. They are bearing well so I will forgive them!
    So I stuck my finger well down in the potato growing mix the other day & was appalled to find it quite dry down in there too.
    The plants were not wilting which was a good thing but it would have been only a matter of time before they began wilting.
    So I gave the container a good misting which seems to have been enough.
    In all so far I estimate I have used around 2lt water to produce this container of plants.
    I wont call them potatoes just yet ;)
     
  11. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member

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    Whatcha got in the pink pot behind the spuds? Looks like an onion of some variety?
     
  12. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member

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    So talking spuds inspired me to go check on mine, and sure enough, pulled back some mulch and...visible shoots in at least 2 (of 7) pots. Both Kipflers from memory. I hadn't planned on having this many potato pots but you could only but 500gms Kipflers and 1kg (eek) of the red spuds. So I'm not too fussed if I don't get a great return. I'm still confused though about what makes a "seed potato" different to a regular potato apart from the certification it's disease free. Could I keep propagating potatoes from the spuds I harvest this year? (At least I know theres no pesticide etc etc) Or would these eventually be unproductive?
     
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  13. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Daffodils! 30 bulbs in that one pot to make a mass display.
    That is, if they actually get to flower before there have been too many hot days.
    Otherwise they will just bolt as the bulbs get too warm.
    I should move them to a cooler place but then the flowers wont emerge as they need sun.
    So I am searching for something to insulate the pot with so it stays cooler while allowing sun onto the leaves.
    The slats of the verandah railing goes some way to achieving that but not quite enough as these days are getting quite hot....over 30 most days now.


    re what makes a seed potato....... they have been specially treated for diseases & kept in cold storage since last year.
    That way, they are sent for sale at the right time of year for best results in each planting zone of the country.
    They are specially grown to be first generation, so, true to form.
    Yes you can grow from your own sprouted spuds & they will develop a fairly good crop generally.
    But they are second generation.
    Having not been treaded for diseases, they are likely to collapse under the dirt from rot & could has disease which you may spread to your garden that could infect any other nightshade crop you plant in future.
     
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  14. Mataeka

    Mataeka Active Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Oh man I really have to get my finger out and plant some potatoes in a pot....
     
  15. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member

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    Hah you sound like me! As ClissAT posted somewhere, it's probably never too late if you get the right seed potato...my Kipflers are going gangbusters, but not one of the red potatoes has done anything yet. It did cross my mind as i planted then that the chits looked to have sprouted and already died...probably should've sent them back! (Live & learn) SO far they've been one of the easiest things I've planted as a good dollop of mulch keeps them damp enough - seemingly. About to go to India for 10days though, so might be interesting to see what happens then. I've not got them irrigated - just go water them occasionally if the soil seems too dry.
     
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  16. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I know it's more like a garden bed but technically it could be called a big container...

    On the left, I have planted Royal Blue's and the right I have several old shop purchased potatoes gone green so I just bunged them in to see how they would go.
    blue royal potato plants and some supermarket potatoes to plant gone green 1000.jpg
    Here are the Royal Blue plants (taken a few days ago) the other ones are yet to sprout.
    blue royal potato plants 1000.jpg

    This bed has a thick mulch 6 - 8 inches double layer of sugar cane over the top of woodchip. I'm not mounding mine up.
     
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