I have never grown a potato in my life!
Then I saw an interesting method based on hilling: grow bags. Some grow bags are made from a thick felted material, and I would have loved to own a bunch of those. But they are pricey. Then I saw that some people were making grow bags out of landscape fabric. I could do that. All winter I dreamed of making grow bags and growing my own potatoes. Well, dreams DO come true! I found rolls of landscape fabric at a discount store for $6 each. I grabbed one and headed home. I decided to just wing it on the bag design.
I unrolled a length of landscape fabric that looked right, doubled it (since my landscape fabric is not high quality, I am doubling the fabric), and sewed the ends together forming a loop. I turned it right side out, sewed up both sides, a triangle section across both sides on the bottom and Voila! I have a grow bag. The second one took me less than 15 minutes to make. Really, these bags are so simple to sew.
Today was the day I decided I must plant potatoes I had saved over the past couple of months, red and russet. Since I only buy organic taters they were all quite alive and the russets had even started to grow.
I put 4 whole potatoes in each grow bag, pressed them down lightly into the soil, and covered with a layer of leaves (or compost, hay or soil). The idea is that when the plants are 4″ high I will fill the grow bag with 4″ more of leaves (or hay or soil). The potatoes grow out from the stem of the plant. When mulched, or hilled, the plant grows up again sending out more potatoes. The idea is to make sure the potatoes are not exposed to sunlight to prevent the production of solanine, a bitter-tasting substance that is slightly toxic to humans.
I plan on planting at least 3 more grow bags of potatoes in the next few weeks, maybe with some blue potatoes (if the feed store still has seed potatoes). Happy planting!
For more information on growing potatoes in grow bags, Dave’s Garden has a great article (and much more information).