Sunday, December 16, 2012

Potato Bucket first harvest

Bucket potatoes! I have a series of these at the moment, as an experiment, and finally one of the potato plants was at it's dying stage, leaves yellowing and falling apart. I decided to harvest before it became a completely dry husk because as it was it was still draining the bucket. I have only put holes in a couple of buckets as an experiment. Generally it works out once the plant is growing, because it's leaves sweat excess water away and you can even end up with a water starved/droopy plant. But I've had some buckets turn swampy and the seed potato rotted - I'm considering what to do about them. Snow pea plants are one angle - they can be planted near the surface so they wont rot, the leaves will sweat water and they'll put nitrogen into the buckets soil as well.

Anyway, I have a container I usually use for storing grey water, but it was dry currently, so I was able to tip the bucket into it and sift through the soil. For a start, I found about five earthworms and little tiny white worm like creatures which may have been baby earthworms. I'm pretty sure I only put two in at most, so the buckets are creating a worm farm environment it seems!

Onto the actual potatoes, they seemed to be mostly around the plants base. Not much lower. I'm not sure if I should have the buckets half full then plant, then hill more soil around the potato plant as it grows. Really I want more of a set and forget arrangement, rather than 'tend to it over and over again' arrangement. I already have kids for that! So possibly ways of getting more per bucket with a hilling technique.

Anyway, 200 grams of desiree potatoes! Not a huge amount, but more than zero! Though I grant you need to take the largest of the potatoes and use it as your next seed potato. I guess that might indicate that hilling is the next step - perhaps just a two stage hilling, once the plant will be above the second half of soil once it's put in. Could also be a moisture thing - I've heard there's a critical time when the plant wants alot of water for potato production. It's going to be an experiment to manage more water, but not making the bucket become a swamp!

Still, it was alot easier to harvest these ones, with out the potato paranoia that you missed digging up a big one!

Put the soil back into the bucket with a bit of fresh soil along with a new seed potato. Also with a plastic contained on top held down by a stone, to block some amount of rainfall getting in so as to stop the bucket swamping before the plant get's leaves out to drain it. Put four Oregon dwarf snow pea seeds in as well.

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