Growing In A Potato Box


Thanks to the listing from Seeds of Diversity, I was able to locate a gentleman in Newfoundland who has a great deal of experience growing a wide variety of potatoes here. Last week, I received my set of samples from George, and here's what my benefactor told me about the varieties:

Red Dutch: A very dry, yellow flesh red from Holland in the 1940’s. An excellent potato. Late maturing.

Northern White: A white flesh variety, from Quebec apparently, from the early 1900’s. Very high yield. Good taste.

Black Minion: An old variety from Ireland from about 1810! This is a very, very dry potato and super taste. A very late variety.

Blue instar: My own seedling. A very tasty potato. Blue skin, white ring of flesh 15 mm under peel and then a blue/white instar to centre of tuber. Very, very quick cooking/boiling time.

My own seedling (from Ag. Canada materials): An all blue flesh. Long tuber. Excellent tasting blue flesh,from high anti-oxidant tested material. A super baker in the microwave! (Matt's Note: I think this will need a proper name - maybe George's Blue Wonder?)

Potatoes are part of the Nightshade family, as are tomatoes (fun fact: when these plants were brought back to Europe for the first time, people assumed they were poisonous because they physically resembled their cousin plant, Deadly Nightshade). An interesting attribute of most Nightshades is that they will grow additional roots if the plant's stem is buried. This is a great trick for making Tomato plants much stronger; there are small bumps on the lower part of the stem, and if you plant as deep as that, you'll end up with a stronger plant. Potatoes work in a similar fashion, except that you can keep burying them, as the part we want is going to come off the roots. So, all we need is a way to contain the soil and potatoes as the plant grows upward. Enter: The Potato Box!

The basic idea is to provide an enclosure around the potatoes, but we need to keep in mind that potatoes need sunlight to grow, so we can't just put up high walls around it right away. The trick is, to set up a kind of framework that we can attach layers to. For my Potato Box, I'll be using 2X2s on the inside corners, and building 1X6 boxes just big enough to go over the 2X2s. As the plant grows, I'll keep adding more soil, burying the potato plant up to its topmost leaves. Once I reach the top of a box, I'll slide down another box, and continue the process until the potatoes are mature.

You can find a fantastic guide to building a potato box here (it's the one I'll be using): - How To Build a Potato Tower. I'll be posting updates here on the progress of this fun project, and if you decide to give it a try yourself, be sure to leave a comment!