After successfully experimenting last year with growing some of our potatoes in a few crates – we went “all-in” this year, planting our entire crop with the crate method.
Growing potatoes in the more traditional row method is not easy. You need to keep soil mounded around the tops of the plants as the season progresses. It can be difficult finding enough soil to keep mounding up the rows – not to mention it can be tedious work preparing, planting and keeping the long rows free of weeds. Harvesting is also a little time-consuming as you need to dig up each row.
The crates on the other hand are easy to plant – stay free of weeds completely due to their raised planting – and maintaining them throughout the growing season is as simple as throwing a few inches of soil mix on top of them as they grow. And when it comes to harvesting – you simply tip over the crate and collect the potatoes!
With all of that said, I have to admit that even though we had a lot of success with our 2014 experimental crate crop – we were both a little nervous to completely abandon the traditional “row” method and put the entire harvest in the hands of the crate method.
For more info on exactly how we planted and made our crates, see: Growing Potatoes Vertically
The 2015 Potato Harvest – The Crates Work!
Well, yesterday was the big day for the 2015 harvest, and about 10 minutes into the harvest – we quickly realized the crates had worked like a charm!
As we flipped over the first small crate, a beautiful crop of white potatoes rolled out from the soil mix. The second crate full of Russets revealed the same big harvest – as did the third crate of Purple potatoes. All in all – it worked out to a bushel-full of potatoes (about 25 lbs.) for every small crate we planted. Not bad for just a few pounds of cut potatoes planted in each, and very little work in planting, maintaining and harvesting the entire crop!
Short Crates vs. Long Crates – A Lesson Learned…
Last year for the initial experiment, we used a small set of leftover straw bale garden crates we had made that were 36″ long x 24″wide x 18″ high.
For the expanded trial this year – to go along with the smaller crates, we created a few longer crates that were 8′ long x 24″ wide x 18″ high. Although the longer crates worked just as well in growing the crop – they WERE NOT as easy to flip and harvest!
In fact, after a few futile attempts to flip the long crates over with both of us pushing, pulling and grunting – we gave up and knocked off the front of the crate to get at the potatoes. Lesson learned that bigger is not always better!
Next year – we will simply use the small crates stacked beside each other. 🙂
Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary