Potato Growing Boxes
I read somewhere that growing potatoes is easy. Grew them one year. Didn’t go so well. Tried again the next year. Got a cereal bowl full of taters about the size of large marbles. Third year I purchased a fancy vertical cage with holes. Plants were green & thriving until mid season; then turned brown and died off. I’m pretty sure I was overwatering them too early before they flowered, causing the seed potato to rot so the plants expired. I was done with growing potatoes. That is, until last year; when one of our community gardeners took over the potato patch and proved it could be done. We had a blast digging them up. Not huge; but they tasted wonderful. I’ve been motivated to revisit growing them again this season & with some help; we’re going to give it another try. Raised beds & raised boxes with deep soil is my preferred growing method. Last month I noticed a business selling wood pallets so I picked up a bunch of them cheap. As far as I know they are not treated & won’t leach harmful chemicals into the soil.
I disassembled the pallets and used the wood to build some raised bed boxes specifically designed to grow potatoes. When dandelions show, it’s time to plant some “seed potatoes.” Not from a supermarket as they may be treated to discourage sprouting. These we purchased from a local gardening shop familiar with our growing zone.
After assembling the boxes and leveling them in a new gardening area, I removed the top two or three rows of planks to allow for plenty of sun. Gardener Ann planted four seed potatoes in each box about three inches deep. As the plants grow we will add composted material always leaving the plants four to six inches above the soil level. Each time the soil reaches the top of an existing plank another row of planks gets added and so on until the box is full. The plants should start to flower about then. That’s a good thing because it means, “there’s taters down under.” When it’s time to harvest, the planks will be removed one layer at a time starting from the top. The soil that spills out will be used next season to grow something different. The planks will most likely be water soaked and warped enough to be chipped and added back into the garden and allowed to compost all winter.
The excess pieces of scrap wood from the pallets used to build the boxes will be split & chipped to be used for mulch in the flowerbeds after removing the nails for metal recycling. So 100% of each pallet has been put to good use growing flowers & veggies.
Written by Urban Conversion contributor, Dean Andres. April 2015