Monday, May 09, 2011

A Barrel Full of Potatoes

I've been growing potatoes in barrels for four years now. It's such an easy way to get a good crop of spuds. Last year, I grew two kinds, Norland Reds and Yukon Gold. I really like eating the red potatoes fresh, but for lasting, the Yukon Gold are better. We're still eating the last of last year's crop now.

My remaining red potatoes have all started to sprout. But that's not a total loss. I had to buy new Yukon Gold seed potatoes, but for my Norland Reds, I had plenty of my own sprouted ones to plant.

I planted two barrels of Yukon Gold potatoes. They are both on the deck of our transition float to shore. That will make it easy for Wayne to water after the spring rains stop. Last year I saved the soil from my potato barrels in plastic bags. As the potatoes grow foliage, Wayne can just dump a bag of soil on top. That will continue until the entire barrel if filled with soil. The increased depth will encourage the plants to produce more potatoes.

The Norland Red potatoes went up in my hillside potato patch. I have been building up a small section of soil up on the top of our granite cliff with my compost, decomposed leaves from the forest, and bags of peat. In addition to the potatoes, I am trying garlic. The land-based critters have left my potatoes alone. Hopefully the garlic won't be to their liking either.

Do you grow garlic? I'd be interested in your experiences. -- Margy


  1. I don't grow garlic but I love your potato idea. I have been shopping around for potato ideas (vertical planting) and came across an idea similar to this using chicken wire. I went to the store to get chicken wire but found it very expensive. But your idea is great and I have a tub just like that which I can use! Do you put drainage holes in the bottom? Each layer is soil and potatoes, do you wait until you see green spouts before adding another layer of soil and potatoes?

  2. You are SO ambitious, Margy. I have a couple of weeks until Planting Weekend arrives in Alberta, but I don't think I'll be planting potatoes. I take my cue from the incomparable Paul Robeson's "Old Man River":
    "I don't plant taters,
    I don't plant cotton,
    And them what plants 'em
    Is soon forgotten..."
    Seriously, if I have potatoes, I'll just eat them, because they're SO delicious. With butter, which I also don't need. Or I'll forget them, which I've been known to do, and they sprout in the cupboard, never to be planted.
    I somehow don't think wild animals will be interested in garlic. You don't have a dog, do you? So you don't have to worry about garlic being bad for dogs.
    Looking forward to more photos of your garden!
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. such a great idea for the potatoes! I'm going to try this at the cabin. Haven't planted garlic yet but I hear it's a deterrent for many animals. Our conservation sells garlic sticks for us to use in our gardens and new bushes/trees to prevent the deer from munching on them.

  4. Glad you have a barrel Tracy. I use whatever is around. The one I am using now was broken on the bottom, but that just made it better for drainage. Don't skimp on the drainage holes. If the soil gets too moist they tend to rot or get wormy. Yes, wait until I have a few inches of green growth before covering them over again. They just keep growing and pushing through the soil until the pot is full of dirt.

    Kay - They really are easy to grown. Just stick one of those sprouted ones somewhere in the ground where it will get a moderate amount of water. They in a few months you will have nice ones instead of mushy ones.

    Shelley - That's good to hear about the garlic. We don't have any deer on our cliff. Hopefully the little furry guys don't like it either.


  5. We grow garlic - so easy - nothing bothers it - except our deer did enjoy eating the shoots when they were young and tender. With our elephant garlic, I sometimes thin it out and put the whole garlic with the green top chopped up into soup or sauces - it is a very mild garlic.

    Thanks for reminding us to check our potoates and get them planted!