Growing Bags Of Potatoes

Discussion in 'Crops & Gardens' started by Ken Anderson, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    In one of the threads here, I mentioned that I had grown potatoes in yard leaf bags, largely because our soil isn't deep enough for us to grow anything, particularly root vegetables, in the ground. I have done this a few years and it has always been very successful, as well as easy to harvest.

    I piled the bricks around it mostly to keep my cat from tearing the bags apart. The first year I did it, I didn't have any young cats who were prone to to that, and the bags themselves would hold up long enough to bring the potatoes into harvest time.

    Somewhere, I have photos of the pile of potatoes that I harvested from just one of these bags but I couldn't find them when I was looking through my iPhoto album yesterday. I'll post them when I come across them, but here's some of the plants from a couple of years ago. I grew others on the south side of my yard, and they did well too.

    potatoes-2014-1.jpg

    potatoes-2014-2.jpg
     
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  2. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    That looks like my kind gardening...easy! Don't the bags get wet and disintegrate? They look like paper?
     
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  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Yeah, they are leaf bags, so they are made of a few thicknesses of paper, but paper. They are outside and it rains a lot in Maine, so they would get wet repeatedly, yet they'd hold up long enough to grow a crop of potatoes. About harvest times, they would begin to show some wear but not so much that they'd come apart. I'd wrap a couple of thicknesses of tape around them to keep them from collapsing in a rainstorm.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
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  4. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    That's surprising but interesting. The problem here is that the ground is so hard that it's almost impossible to dig deep.
     
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  5. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    That's the problem I have. I have only a few inches of soil before I run into coal ash, so I have to grow everything above ground level.
     
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  6. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    One year when I was planting flowers all around a border, my ex had to go ahead of me with a drill to even start the holes.
     
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  7. Texas Beth

    Texas Beth Well-Known Member
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    That is a brilliant idea. I have horrible soil in my backyard and was wanting to find an easy way go deal with it. It looks as though you grew other veggies in the bag. Am I correct? Could any veggies be grown in these bags? How many pounds of soil did you need to put in each bag before you planted?
     
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  8. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    We don't eat potatos much anymore, but I think that method would also work great for growing tomatoes and other garden veggies. We have been using plastic containers, but the paper bag and the bricks would probably shelter the root from the heat of the sun much better than just the thin plastic containers can do.
    I have also read about using cardboard boxes for planting in; but I have not tried that either. It would not be deep enough for potatoes, but maybe fine for maters and cukes, and even beets could grow since they are not really deep in the ground.
     
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  9. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I don't see why anything couldn't be grown in a paper bag but most wouldn't need bags quite so high, which are necessary because potatoes are root vegetables. However, potatoes have a longer growing season than most plants so if the bags are able to hold up through a long potato season, they should easily hold up for any other plants. I would think you could use regular paper grocery bags for other plants, but I might double bag them. The leaf and grass bags are already double or triple layered. I didn't pay attention to the amount of soil but it was mostly compost that we can get from our town for free. Another advantage to paper over plastic buckets (which I had also tried with potatoes) is that they provide for great drainage since the water will retain the dampness well, but excess water will simply seep through. I do poke a few small holes in the bottom, to be sure that I don't have standing water on the bottom. I haven't tried cardboard boxes but I don't see why they wouldn't work for other crops. I haven't had very good luck using plastic buckets or things like kitty litter containers, even with drain holes drilled in the bottom, I think because they tend to heat up too much on warm days.
     
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  10. Texas Beth

    Texas Beth Well-Known Member
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    Good to know, Ken. I hesitate to use anything plastic as I fear chemical leaching from the plastic as it heats up during the day. I would rather used paper bags and then recycle them through my compost. I think I might try your method this fall.
     
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  11. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Very Well-Known Member
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    I've been growing potatoes in a 3 x 12 raised bed about one foot high and have had great success. I just dug this years crop yesterday and got a wheelbarrow full.
    @Ken Anderson, when planting in the bags do you start them deep and add soil as they grow as you would hill potatoes in a normal garden?
     
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  12. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I filled it about ¾ of the way and started them there because I was concerned that they wouldn't get enough light on the bottom of such a high bag.
     
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  13. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Very Well-Known Member
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    Interesting to me. I'm too long of tooth to grow anything but I do like the idea. Farming in a small but manageable way.. A family might survive in extremely hard times. Potatoes and tomatoes and green onions and other veggies.
     
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  14. Krissttina Isobe

    Krissttina Isobe Very Well-Known Member
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    Learned something here and I love potatoes too. Living in apt. there isn't much of gardens to go around for the water is free, but you kind of feel bad about using too much of it. So I've learned to recycle water to use for my aloe and broad leaf plantain growing in my tiny backyard on the first floor apt. This is so great growing potatoes in bags. Today there's the extra sturdy bags from Safeway and Walgreens they give when you buy things from their store if you did not bring your own bags and if you're buying a bigger amount they'll give these paper bags to carry your items bought. I love yukon gold potatoes, but not seen them in garden stores or any stores that sell seeds. I guess I'll go amazon.com window shopping for it if I ever get around to it. Thanks for the knowledge!
     
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  15. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    If you can buy the potatoes that you like at the grocery store, then just leave them in your cupboard or wherever you store your potatoes. They will soon get soft and start to sprout, and you will see the little sprouts poking out of the potato all over it.
    Cut the potato in sections, with at least one little white sprout in each section, and then plant those in dirt in the bags out in your back yard. They should grow and soon you will see the green tops (like in Ken's pictures), and after they blossom, then you should start finding some potatoes growing in the roots underneath the potato plant.
    Potatos are not grown from seeds, they are grown from old potatoes that have started to sprout.
     
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  16. Krissttina Isobe

    Krissttina Isobe Very Well-Known Member
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    :)Thanks learned something new!
     
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  17. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    Y'all are a wealth of knowledge. The city used to 'give' us this type of bags periodically. They then switched over to lovely blue thick plastic bags, but have since stopped 'giving' us any. I put the give in quotes because of course it was all built into what we pay for water/waste. The bills have gone up, but the services have declined, since they don't give us either these days.

    I love the idea of doing this. My gardening containers have seen better days, and the prices of those have skyrocketed, so I only planted a few things this year. It never occurred to me that I could grow in bags or boxes. I have a few boxes I was about to put out for pick up, but maybe I'll save them instead, and try planting something when I get some soil. Does anyone know if sweet potatoes would also grow in this manner, and if so, are they also grown from pieces? I've never had one long enough to see if it sprouts, but I have seen that happen with old potatoes.
     
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  18. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Very Well-Known Member
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    @Diane Lane , I start sweet potato sprouts, called slips, by cutting an inch off the end of a sweet potato and put it cut side down in a shallow dish of water and place it in a window where it can get some sun. Add water as needed, it will take some time; you should get several. When they are several inches long, separate them and plant them.
     
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  19. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    Thanks, @Sheldon, I'll have to try that. I don't have any in the house right now, other than canned sweet potatoes, but hopefully I'll remember to pick some up when I go shopping. I don't pay much attention to growing seasons, since things here tend to grow year round, but perhaps I should read up on them for the vegetables.
     
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  20. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I'm pretty sure they grow much the same as other potatoes. I haven't grown any but my dad farmed, and sweet potatoes were a crop that he planted from time to time. As a kid, I didn't pay that much attention but I think the preparation were about the same as when he grew regular potatoes.
     
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  21. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    I have started sweet potatoes in a glass like Sheldon mentioned. When I lived in Missouri, we had neighbors who also grew sweet potatoes, and what they did was to plant the whole potato and then let it sprout.
    Once it had several places that were sprouting (they called those "slips"), then they cut the potato into pieces and planted the pieces, each with their own little green slip on it.
    Next year, we may try growing some in a sack or deep cardboard box. I think that it is probably too late this year to try that.
    Our soil is hard packed clay, and even after we rototill it, it is hard for anything to grow.
    We are getting better dirt in the places that we have used the most and added better soil mixed with compost into; but most of the dirt is just not suitable for root crops.
     
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  22. Ina I. Wonder

    Ina I. Wonder Very Well-Known Member
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    Last year I went from growing veggies to flowers, mainly because as just one person, I was throwing away perfectly good food. I couldn't find enough people to give them to. Then on FB I saw where someone had mixed the stuffing that is put into disposable diapers into the soil of potted plants to help with the hydration. I tried it on my potted flowers, and it cut down on the need to water by 1/2 to 2/3rds the amount. I wonder if that would help with growing veggies in containers? It sure made the weight of the planters lighter.

    If you try this, wet the diaper before you remove the contents, or it will float around in the air, and you could breath it into your lungs. But wet, it is easily mixable.
     
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  23. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    I'll bet the local food pantry (many are at churches) would appreciate fresh produce @Ina I. Wonder, just in case you decide to go back to growing vegetables. I know the ones here and up in Houston tend to give a lot of bread type products and less healthy foods, and I have occasionally been helped by them, and am always very grateful to get the fresh fruit and veggies when they have them. I never would have thought to use diaper stuffing, but that might be good for me to keep in mind, since the balcony gets a lot of sun, and sometimes the plants get drier than if they'd been in the ground and had some protection from the sun.
     
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