Potatoes are cool-season vegetables you can grow at home with little effort. One of the easiest ways to grow a crop of potatoes at home is the straw method. This involves planting your potatoes in a growing bin and covering them with straw, rather than soil. You can make a suitable growing bin for your potatoes out of wooden pallets and a bit of wire. Plant your potatoes in early to mid spring for best results.
Things You'll Need
- Certified seed potatoes
- 5 wooden pallets
- Heavy gardening wire
- Peat moss
- Coarse builder's sand
Purchase firm and unsprouted certified seed potatoes from a garden center or nursery. Order certified seed potatoes from a reputable catalog or online garden supplier if you are unable to find them in your area.
Choose a full-sun planting location that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day.
Lay a wooden pallet flat on the ground in the planting location and stand four more pallets on their sides, so the pallets form a box with four sides and a bottom. Secure the corners of the pallet together with heavy gardening wire to create a sturdy wooden growing bin for your potatoes.
Blend together equal parts peat moss and coarse builder's sand to create a well-draining growing medium for your potatoes. Cover the bottom pallet with several sheets of newspaper to prevent the growing medium from falling through the wooden slats. Top the newspaper with 12 inches of the growing medium.
Place the seed potatoes on the surface of the growing medium. Space the seed potatoes 10 to 12 inches apart to allow adequate room for growth.
Cover the seed potatoes with a six- to eight-inch layer of straw. Maintain the layer of straw throughout the entire growing season, adding more straw whenever the green potato shoots begin to emerge.
Tips & Warnings
- Harvest potatoes once the vines have died. Remove the layer of straw and collect the potatoes on the surface of the growing medium.
- Wait for the weather to warm the growing medium to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before planting your potatoes. Planting potatoes when the temperature is too cold may result in poor growth.
- "Container Gardening"; Sunset Books; 2004
- University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Growing Potatoes
- University of Illinois Extension: Potato
- Photo Credit potato image by dinostock from Fotolia.com
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