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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Non-traditional Growing Methods

*Garden pictures are coming...if it ever stops raining!*

(Picture above is from The House We Call Home.)

I wanted to share two different gardening techniques that I'm going to try out this summer. I haven't actually assembled them yet, but I wanted to at least share the information with you!

The first is growing potatoes in a bin or bag versus directly in the ground. My plan is to take my empty peat moss bags (with holes poked in the bottom for drainage) and grow potatoes in them. I have Kennebec, Yukon Gold and Pontiac Red potatoes to grow from Rochester Blue Seal. What I'll do is roll down the bag so I can fit 6 inches of dirt in the bag and bury my seed potatoes. As the plant grows up you'd bury the stem so that only 4 or so inches are above the soil, unrolling the bag as needed. When harvest time comes you'd just slice open the bag and voila out pours your potato harvest! A few other variations of this growing method (from this site):

Field growing: This is the conventional way most potatoes are grown. Generally, the seed potatoes are planted about 12 inches apart in rows that are spaced 2 to 3 feet apart. The seed pieces' are planted about 1 inch deep, then covered with additional soil as the sprouts develop.

Straw: For centuries, Scandinavians have grown potatoes in stacks of straw or other mulching material. Potatoes are planted above ground in the straw, and as the vines begin to grow, additional straw or mulch is mounded up around the base of the plants. This results in a yield of very clean potatoes. New potatoes can be harvested easily even before the potato vines mature completely.

Under plastic or in plastic garbage bags: Garden soil or a commercial potting soil can be used to grow the potatoes in the bags, Fold over the top half of the bag, fill with soil, and plant a certified seed potato that has been cut in half. The plastic bag can be set above ground wherever it's convenient. Punch holes in the bottom of the bag for drainage.

You also can plant potatoes under black plastic. Cut open a piece of the black plastic, and plant a potato piece. The potato tubers will develop as they would in the open ground. However, the tubers that develop close to the surface of the soil are shaded by the black plastic and should not develop the green inedible portions that often are found on other tubers. The black plastic also will aid in controlling weeds.

Garbage cans or containers: Old garbage cans, or wooden or fiberboard-type containers are suitable for growing potatoes, if they have adequate drainage. You can conserve space by growing them in this manner. A word of caution, though: The plants tend to dry out more rapidly when grown in containers, so additional watering will be needed. Otherwise, you're likely to end up with misshapen tubers.

The second alternative growing method I want to try is growing tomatoes upside down. Alot of stores are carrying the popular "Topsy Turvy" hanging tomato grower, but I've opted for 5-gallon buckets from Home Depot with a hole drilled in the bottom for the tomato to grown. I have the buckets and the tomatoes, I just haven't got the planting done yet. This year I'm going to just attempt to hang the cherry tomato varieties and plant the paste and slicing varieties. I've heard you can hang all varieties, including the big Brandywine's but I'll stick with the cherry's this year and see what grows. I'll be hanging a total of three buckets.

What different growing methods are you trying this summer? I'll keep you updated on how things grow!


NHmommy May 28, 2009 at 6:32 AM  

wow..let me know how the tomatoes work out. i've seen the commercials and thought it seems impossible.
good luck!

Amy May 28, 2009 at 12:01 PM  

I'm doing the same sort of thing with potatoes, except I'm using tires. One tire until the plants grow 8", then add the send tire and more dirt, and keep going for 4-5 tires, then let the plant mature and flower. I got my tires, free, from next to the building at Hervey's in Downtown Rochester.

I want to try the upside down tomatoes with the cherries too. I am running out of space in my garden, so I need to go verticle!

SwingCat123 June 2, 2009 at 3:56 PM  

I'm doing potatos in a heavy fabric bag, same as you describe. I also have one plum tomato saved using the upside down kits but I have yet to sink the eye bolt into the porch to hang the planter from so it may not happen this year, but i hope to soon.

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