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Potatoes in a barrel

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Potatoes in a barrel

Post  tim.byrne.144 on 6/28/2012, 10:02 pm

I decided to try growing potatoes in a 55 gallon barrel, so far the plants are growing well, have not checked to see if it actually has potatoes growing...I am waiting till the end of the grow season to see. I am using the Mel Mix formula in the barrel. Question, can I use the soil again next year or do I need to grow something else in it? Last year I did a trial run at the SGF method from the second edition book....it was a bad year for me but my potatoes did we and I didn't plant them correctly nor did I mound them up. The soil mixture allowed them to grow sideways and with 6 seed potatoes I got like 3 dozen potatoes. Apparently I missed some last year as they are growing in the garden this year and disrupted the 1 foot square per plant. I am trying to figure out if I could reuse the Mel Mix for Potatoes again or will I run into issues where I need to plant something else in that mix?
I like to thank Mel for his books and for creating this method! Two Green Thumbs up!

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Re: Potatoes in a barrel

Post  NAR56 on 6/28/2012, 11:11 pm

I am doing potatoes in a clean garbage can this year. This is my first attempt but so far all seems well. I am just waiting for the plant to perrish to harvest the potatoes. You asked if you could reuse the soil. I hear that it is not advised to reuse the soil for patotoes since potatoes are acceptable to disease. But you can use the soil back into another SFG for other plants. I plan on creating a new SFG box for the fall so I plan on using the MM from the potatoes in the new box. I can't wait to see if I have any potatoes in my can or not.

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Post  tim.byrne.144 on 6/29/2012, 6:40 am

Thanks NAR,
I have heard that about the soil before and my wife reminded me of it again after I posted. I was just wondering if Mel's Mix was different. Best of luck to your potatoes

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Re: Potatoes in a barrel

Post  plantoid on 6/29/2012, 3:44 pm

These are some of my potato shots of the potato challenge we have been doing on site this year .

I have grown potatoes in container many times but not as badly as this year ...not by a long chalk.

What the height of the greenery was at harvesting . The bottom bit is full of MM from flor to just below the level of my left hand that's on the crutch .

I had to make extensions to the bags as the two foot height was no where enouth for the plants , I used black 1/16 inch mm thick engineering grade waterproof membrane for them and tied them up in some ols strappiung I had lying around the garage.

The measley crop .. note the decayed hulks of the seed potatoes in the lmid lower of the picture .

They are not all my potatoes in containers as these were grown in MM .

earlier in the year I ran out of time and the builders disposed of my original tubes I've used for growing upright potatoes etc ( BTDS! Sad ).

So I resorted to using the specially made Potato Grow Bags .. I now know this sort are a total waste of tinme as they do not hold enough growth medium , the advertising blurb stated that they had built in drainage. Which for me using auto watering for one minute a day was obvoiusly insufficient as out of the five potatoes put in the bag four rotted and the survivor in the centre iof the bag produced the potatoes shown in the lower picture.

What I have learnt is that my MM does indeed give good potatoes , the barrel or bag needs to be well holed at the bottom to get good drainage.

Three feet of MM soon drops to around of a foot depth in the bags , so you need to be continually topping it up once the potato tops are 8 iches high . Top it up over the first five inches of growth & do this several times over the next two months or more . Don't water too much or you'll just get loads ot greenery . Same goes for feeding the potatoes ..if your MM is balanced it will most likely not need extra nutrients . Adding more feed than the plants need will also result in more luscious top growth and not much improvement in the quality or quantity of crop produced.

When I set the grow bags up I slipped in a slow release plant food stick about three inches away from each potato near each corner .. this may have been what killed the corner potatoes and caused then to rot . The middle potato was the one that produced the goods .

Having the potatoes in a grow bag presents problems of moving it when filled not only at the onset but also at harvesting , they are rather heavy when full of wet MM & plant.

Next year I hope to use four 610 litre ex food drums , cuttting the bottoms and tops out so I have a tube with the barrel hoops still on it .

I'll set these on wheeled trollies and have them lifted off the trolley base on some 1" thick battons so there will be decent drainage.

I'll not be using feed sticks either , rather I hope to be using some home grown , home made comfrey tea that is easily and quickly consumed by the potato plants instead.

I also think that the instructions that came with the grow bags need ammending to say , " start your potatoes off on a one foot thick bed of material then cover then with a six inch layer .

For the reccomendation on the gumph that came with the bags was " lay your five potatoes on a four inch layer and cover it in a three inch layer then water it .

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Re: Potatoes in a barrel

Post  tim.byrne.144 on 6/29/2012, 4:06 pm

Wow, thanks for sharing. I'll have to watch my watering but I have to make sure it doesn't dry completely out too...second year growing them so I am absorbing in what everybody else does or did.

Thanks again


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