potatoes_2010.jpgLast year, I tried growing potatoes for the first time in a long while. I don’t have much in-the-ground veggie growing space due to big shade trees around my lot. But I bought a couple of potato grow bags from a catalog, happy to have the chance to extend my vegetable garden beyond my two 4′ x 8′ plots. The reviews for the bags were glowing, so I was optimistic. I bought Russian banana fingerling seed potatoes as well. One problem I’ve had with vegetable containers like Earthboxes, grow bags, etc is that I get queasy when I realize how much potting soil I’ll need to buy to fill them. So, I cheated and mixed half garden soil with potting soil in the bags and proceeded from there. I could tell the plants weren’t terribly happy throughout the growing season and they never did get a flower on them. This was disappointing since Russian banana fingerling plants were supposed to have lovely purple flowers. I harvested in late September by dumping the bags out onto a tarp and digging through the soil. And the results can be seen in the photo at the top of this post. Cute, weren’t they?

So this year I changed my ways and actually filled the bags completely with potting soil (okay, potting soil plus some compost). I added slow release fertilizer too and then planted some yellow Finn seed potatoes I’d purchased at a local garden center. I put two in each bag, added soil as the plants grew (simulating the mounding I would’ve done if I’d planted them in the ground) and things got moving pretty quickly.

The plants were beautiful! They even flowered! They got big enough that they started to crawl over to the containers that had zucchini in them! I was feeling pretty darn good about my gardening skill. Last Saturday was the big day. I dumped the bags out onto tarps and started digging.
potato_harvesting2011.jpg (Action shot!)

And here are the results…….

OK, just kidding. That’s the same photo from 2010. Instead, here are the real 2011 results…..

Pretty impressive, eh? So…I obviously still have much to learn about growing potatoes. But you know what? I love that their actual yield is a complete mystery until the very end of the season. Instead of wringing my hands and wondering what I’m doing wrong all season, I get five, maybe six months of optimistic potato growing fun. We’ll see how it goes next year. Suggestions?