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Old March 13, 2014   #31
PaulF
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This thread just drew my attention. This is what happened to my barrel-o-mon...I mean potatoes. The process sounded like a great idea. I even mixed soilless mix and straw as the growing medium. What I read said this would work as well or better than straight mix.

In a 50 gal barrel I started at or near the bottom with potato eyes (I used whole potatoes so as not to allow the cut places to become diseased.) They all grew stems, etc. I kept filling the barrel as the plants grew upward. About halfway up the barrel the plants began to dry up. I did have drain holes in the bottom and I did water when it looked like the plants needed water.

After a while all the plants died from what looked like heat stroke. The barrel was in a place where it received morning sun and afternoon partial sun and evening shade. Thinking that there would be tubers on the end of the plants like when potato vines died out when planted in the soil, I tipped the barrel over and found nothing but soilless mix and straw. The year was hot and dry, but everything else grew OK.

Being the first time effort I reckoned I had done something wrong. Maybe, maybe not but that was the first and only time for potatoes grown in a barrel for me. Will it work for some folks----probably. Will it get another chance for me----probably not.
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Old March 13, 2014   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RootLoops View Post
what constitutes a "new potato"?
A potato that is pilfered from the plant early on in the season before full maturity.
These potatoes are usually no more the about 1 inch diameter.

The skins are still thin on the russet type potatoes and they go very well cooked with Italian flat green beans cooked with a little fat back, salt pork or bacon.

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Old March 13, 2014   #33
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i love some new potatoes, now i'll know when to get em! i've tried growing vertical before with the same results as others here(potatoes on the bottom only) i too thought it was something i did wrong but i guess i was doomed from the start!
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Old March 27, 2014   #34
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I've read accounts of the potatoes-in-a-barrel plan over the decades. My impression is that the thoughtful, data oriented people who believe that it produces greater yield never say that it produces a barrel full of potatoes or that potatoes grow from the stem.

They just say that if they

(1) use longer season varieties and

(2) keep adding covering material (soil, straw, whatever) in small amounts at frequent intervals so that the growing stem never becomes green until it has reached the desired height and is allowed to emerge

they get larger yields, which they sometimes attribute to a small but significant elongation of the stolon producing region.

My first recollection of this concept didn't involve barrels, but pens -- sort of like the "potato towers" some use, but not as elegant -- and the goal was to get a good yield with minimal space and easy harvest of clean potatoes. The potatoes were planted at the bottom of the pen, then frequently layered with straw, and sides were dropped to harvest by just raking out the straw.

I've done variations of this -- all of which worked OK. I've never had results as good as some credible people reported -- but I've never grown the longer season potatoes which it is suggested, reasonably, I think, work best for this method.

Two possibly useful thoughts about the pen/barrel/tower approach, though:

1) It might make it possible to grow potatoes in climates not ideally suited to them, by making it possible to put the pen/barrel/tower in a compact location that was cooler, drier, or whatever was needed to make potatoes happy. So those in hot climates might not need to be deprived of new potatoes, for example.

2) An often reported necessary element is to prevent the stem from turning green until it has grown to the desired emergence point. The few remaining potatoes from our last year's crop, stored in a completely dark cool closet, have looooooooong white sprouts -- long enough that they could be planted and covered a couple of feet deep with their still-white sprouts just emerging or near the point of emergence.

I doubt that I'll have time to prepare a place for any of these, then creep out in the dusk to plant them without letting the stems have any incentive to green up . . . and none of them are long-season potatoes . . . but for anyone planning to try a barrel experiment, it might be interesting to use seed potatoes that had been kept in the dark until they developed very long sprouts , to minimize the difficulty of the "keep adding straw (or whatever) to cover them enough to keep the stem from greening up until they grow to the desired emergence point."

'Tis a thought, anyway.
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Old April 5, 2014   #35
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I'm tempted to buy a barrel of potatoes just to stage a photo for Worth and Durgan!
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Old April 5, 2014   #36
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I currently have 3, 20 gallon containers that i am experimenting with using the "hill" method of adding dirt. I started off with 4 inches of dirt on the bottom. Then i added 6 seed potatoes in each container followed by 2 more inches of dirt on top. When the plants grew 6 inches above the soil i buried 1/3 of the plant. Then again and again and again until i reached the top of the container. The plants are nice and bushy and are barely begining to flower. When the flowers die i am told it is time to dump out the bountiful harvest. So i will sacrificially saw into one of my containers to see if the entire container is full of potatoes. The three varieties i planted are french fingerling, russian banana fingerling, and austrian crescent fingerling. Stay tuned with actual results.
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Old April 5, 2014   #37
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Originally Posted by heirloomtomaguy View Post
I currently have 3, 20 gallon containers that i am experimenting with using the "hill" method of adding dirt. I started off with 4 inches of dirt on the bottom. Then i added 6 seed potatoes in each container followed by 2 more inches of dirt on top. When the plants grew 6 inches above the soil i buried 1/3 of the plant. Then again and again and again until i reached the top of the container. The plants are nice and bushy and are barely begining to flower. When the flowers die i am told it is time to dump out the bountiful harvest. So i will sacrificially saw into one of my containers to see if the entire container is full of potatoes. The three varieties i planted are french fingerling, russian banana fingerling, and austrian crescent fingerling. Stay tuned with actual results.
Awaiting the results with bated breath. Don't dump, dig carefully inch by inch. Make sue you have a camera.

Last edited by Durgan; April 6, 2014 at 02:40 AM.
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Old April 6, 2014   #38
heirloomtomaguy
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Will do Durgan
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Old April 6, 2014   #39
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I've read accounts of the potatoes-in-a-barrel plan over the decades. My impression is that the thoughtful, data oriented people who believe that it produces greater yield never say that it produces a barrel full of potatoes or that potatoes grow from the stem.
Potatoes can grow from the stem. Not frequently, but with some non commercial varieties this is true. See this thread for photos:
http://tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=30203
This is infrequent and varieties must be carefully selected. There are many more varieties that grow potatoes off stolons, and these two are mainly non commercial varieties. Commercial varieties have largely been bred to produce tubers in a single location, not far from the surface on plants that are compact. These traits make machine harvesting easier, so the traits you need for bin/tower growing are not usually present in commercial varieties. They are at odds with the way pototoes have been bred for the past 150+ years.

Quote:
They just say that if they

(1) use longer season varieties and

(2) keep adding covering material (soil, straw, whatever) in small amounts at frequent intervals so that the growing stem never becomes green until it has reached the desired height and is allowed to emerge

they get larger yields, which they sometimes attribute to a small but significant elongation of the stolon producing region.
The reasons:
1 - Longer season varieties may allow for a longer time for tubers to grow. That is the main reason this could be preferred to use longer season potatoes. Short season potatoes typically do not grow tubers off stolons. They set tubers in a single layer, and then go into senecense. Short season or early tuberization is not a trait that is likely to increase yield.

2 - Yes, adding material, but not straw. It must be soil/compost or wood shavings/sawdust. When grown in straw, potato stems turn green and stolons do not set tubers. They will only set tubers below the straw. Those that grow tubers off the stem (as mentioned, extremely rare) may do this, but they may not.

Larger yields are not proven. It is possible that most potatoes grown in barrels/bins/towers may get lower yields that those grown in fields. Varieties that yield well must be identified, and especially those that grow tubers off stolons and stems, as these are the only ones that have any capability of growing tubers in layers.

Quote:
My first recollection of this concept didn't involve barrels, but pens -- sort of like the "potato towers" some use, but not as elegant -- and the goal was to get a good yield with minimal space and easy harvest of clean potatoes. The potatoes were planted at the bottom of the pen, then frequently layered with straw, and sides were dropped to harvest by just raking out the straw.
Whether grown in pens, towers, barrels, bins is not critical as long as they potato plants receive adequate resources. Water must be provided, especially to the bottom of the container. Personally I have reservations about using anything that allows light to penetrate the outside container, as this risks the potatoes turning green. Also, regarding water, these drain and dry out quicker than field grown potatoes, so it is important to provide irrigation throughout the column.

Quote:
I've done variations of this -- all of which worked OK. I've never had results as good as some credible people reported -- but I've never grown the longer season potatoes which it is suggested, reasonably, I think, work best for this method.
Those who have done the most research have been the Kenosha Potato Project, which involves growers in Wisconsin as well as many overseas. One of their goals is to research and identify traits that allow for higher yields in vertically grown potatoes, for the purpose of assisting urban growers who have limited space. This is a long term project, and as traits are identified and bred for, or specified potatoes are tested, we may see yield increases, but it is entirely unrealistic to expect the 99 lbs per tuber type of promotion.

I will be trying at least two varieties this year in bins. The two I have identified are:

1 Papa chonca - a near perennial, Chilean variety that grows small tubers off stolons and stems.
2 CIP396256 - a long season, semi-frost resistant variety that grows tubers off stolons.

Last edited by NathanP; April 6, 2014 at 08:49 AM.
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Old April 6, 2014   #40
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Waiting.
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Old April 6, 2014   #41
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First let me say excellent post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanP View Post

The reasons:
1 - Longer season varieties may allow for a longer time for tubers to grow. That is the main reason this could be preferred to use longer season potatoes. Short season potatoes typically do not grow tubers off stolons. They set tubers in a single layer, and then go into senecense. Short season or early tuberization is not a trait that is likely to increase yield.
This sounds like they act the same way determinate tomatoes act y setting potatoes all at the same time and in the same place. The more I see parallel mutations between species in a family the more I wonder if we understand genetics as well as we think we do.

Quote:
Those who have done the most research have been the Kenosha Potato Project, which involves growers in Wisconsin as well as many overseas. One of their goals is to research and identify traits that allow for higher yields in vertically grown potatoes, for the purpose of assisting urban growers who have limited space. This is a long term project, and as traits are identified and bred for, or specified potatoes are tested, we may see yield increases, but it is entirely unrealistic to expect the 99 lbs per tuber type of promotion.
Could you explain more about this project.
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Old April 6, 2014   #42
Durgan
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The Seattle Times are the experts.

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-...are-feet-81760

http://tipnut.com/grow-potatoes/

http://www.kitchengarden.co.uk/blog/...-helen-gazeley
Potatoes in pots - is it just hype? by Helen Gazeley

Published: 03:46PM Aug 26th, 2011
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Old April 6, 2014   #43
NathanP
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Those who have done the most research have been the Kenosha Potato Project, which involves growers in Wisconsin as well as many overseas. One of their goals is to research and identify traits that allow for higher yields in vertically grown potatoes, for the purpose of assisting urban growers who have limited space. This is a long term project, and as traits are identified and bred for, or specified potatoes are tested, we may see yield increases, but it is entirely unrealistic to expect the 99 lbs per tuber type of promotion.
Could you explain more about this project.
First let me say a few things. There are several related 'groups' of people, each somewhat independent from each other, but with similar interest in growing potatoes. Curzio Caravati is the founder, and he lives in Kenosha, WI. Hence the name. There is a network of growers local to him who contribute to his project locally.

He has several websites that are partly informational, and he tracks growth history and traits of many heirloom varieties grown in bags of different sizes and colors.

http://www.kenoshapotato.com/

He has several youtube clips as well as connections to SSE, where TPS is available from several varieties that he grows. Tubers may be as well.

This is his online directory of these varieties.
http://www.curzio.com/N/PotatoProject.htm

Most of the discussion for the group is centered on Facebook, where many people from many countries contribute. This is an open group for those who are interested in joining, but let me stress, the idea is to contribute to the discussion, not argue or be divisive.

The group contains a very diverse population from hobby gardeners to University research professors, from growers in the potato industry, to urban gardeners. It is increasingly a global collaboration, with people from every continent, and includes both those growing in the tropics as well as those as far north as Greenland and Iceland. Some people post about issues they are facing or progress on projects they are working on. Some of those are people who post in this forum, or Tom Wagner's tatermater forum are also already members.

Many of the newer members are from a broad range of African countries, where potatoes are increasingly being seen as a solution for a self-sustainable food supply. In many of these countries, there are those who have deceitfully sold common people on a "sack grown potatoes program" promising yields purported to be 30kg per sack. This data, is of course, unjustified, as they are discovering.

With that said, the ability of those in urban areas to find varieties that do well in sacks/bags/bins/towers, etc., is an important matter from a food security point of view as well it being a possible source of income for those willing to do the work. It likely is most important to those with limited space to grow crops, and a vertically grown potato would be a benefit in these settings if yield can be increased.

You do not need to be invested in the project's goals to join, and I am sure many of those who are members have joined to learn from others. I am one of those, though I share many of the projects goals, even if I am not an everyday contributor.

Here is the group link for those who have Facebook. Please feel free to join if you are interested in learning or contributing to the discussion.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/316831657858/

Last edited by NathanP; April 6, 2014 at 02:02 PM.
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Old April 6, 2014   #44
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Thank you Nathan. I just sent a join request.

Although I have never been able to do anything about it, I first became interesting in growing "odd" potatoes after seeing a National Geographic article in the '70's (maybe) that showed a lay out of a huge number of potatoes in Peru.

Unfortunately I don't thing I'm going to be able to grow any TPS this year as I simply don't have the surplus funds. Maybe next year.

One of the reasons I'm interested in container gardening is that as I become older I can see a day will come when bending over or sitting on the ground is no longer a comfortable option. Kneeling has been that way for awhile.
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Old April 6, 2014   #45
Durgan
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Where are the potatoes?
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