Thursday, July 19, 2012

Potato Harvest for Home Gardeners

At the office, I planted potatoes using a couple of different methods a home gardener might try.

One was the square foot gardening method where I planted potatoes in 2 squares side-by-side.  I used the 'high-rise' method where I built another 1' x 2' x 6" square so that I could add more soil as the potatoes grew.  In total, the square foot gardening method gave me about 12" of depth in which potatoes could form.

5/23/12, about 8 weeks of growth
The other method of raising potatoes was using a grow bag.  I had 2 different colors of these bags (which cost me $20 each).  With this method, you fill up the bag, eventually to the top, as the potato grows. 

4 seed pieces per square planted 3/28/12
Kennebec potatoes were planted on 3/28/12.  Four seed pieces went in each square of the square foot garden and 8 seed pieces were planted into each grow bag. So each method was planted with equal numbers of seed pieces.

8 seed pieces were planted in each bag 3/28/12

So, here's what the plants looked like prior to harvest:

Square foot garden 7/17/12
Tan bag 7/17/12

Black bag 7/17/12

 And here's the harvest 16 weeks after planting:
Left sq ft garden, middle black bag, right tan bag

Pure numbers tell us that the 2 squares of the square foot garden produced the best, yielding 19 potatoes weighing 4.05#.
The black bag ended up producing a lot of little tubers (23 total) weighing in at 2.69#.
The tan bag produced the least (13 tubers in all) weighing 2.13#.

The best quality is dependent on whether you like new potatoes over baking or slicing sized potatoes.  For new potatoes, the black bag produced more smaller ones.  However, I would say the best overall was the sq ft garden harvest.

I suspect that in a 'normal' year (whatever that is) overall, plants would have yielded more.  With temps in the 100s for a week or more, tubers will not (and did not) size up. I suspect that perhaps the medium in which the tubers were forming was cooler in the sq ft garden bed than in the grow bags.  However, I did not measure the temperature.

Happy gardening!

No comments: