OK. I have high hopes for my garden last year and I even experimented with some “Time saving” strategies for growing potatoes, my main crop. The idea was to grow potatoes and sell them at my booth at the farmers market.
There were a few issues with the idea. The first was that I used only straw to cover my potatoes, which resulted in a disaster.
(see my enthusiastic before the fact post on horizontal potato growing method.)
The second was that I was planning to sell potatoes, a commodity crop, and most other farmers at the market were selling them and many customers at the market told me that they had a sack of potatoes in their kitchen already
What happened is that along with potato beetles, that ate the leaves , I discovered a centipede bug that ate the tubers.
Potato Beetle not full grown, without distinctive yellow strips
I was really good at picking off the potato beetles and they did not actually kill too many plants, so I figured that I would still get a nice harvest of potatoes.
Centipede bug that ate my potatoes especially my yukon golds
But the real damage were these guys above, a centipede like bug that ate the potatoes.
I was told that my straw mounding method, instead of mounding with soil, is what did me in.
Apparently, what happened is that these centipedes have a hard time getting around under soil, but my nice and moist and loose straw created a perfect home for them and they ate 75% of my potatoes especially my Yukon Golds.
I harvested over 10o pounds, but I should have had 300-500 pounds or more.
Also my second experiment, potato bags where a total wash.
The plants look great, but yielded no potatoes.
- I literally had less tubers than the seed potatoes I planted. Potato bags are really hit or miss and for me, this being the second time I have tried, it was a complete MISS. Both times, I had no potatoes.
- The lesson here is to grow potatoes the traditional way.
- That means digging a trench, planting and covering them and mounding them up with soil as they grow.
- Then forking them up.
- This takes some effort, but I have found all of the experiments to not be worth it.
- As a side note, I used to work for a garden catalog company that sold a potato bin that boosted 50 pounds of potato yields. The company had to issue refunds and was doing a test of 200 of the bins to see if the product worked.
- I opted to use good old soil and planted my potatoes in a 3 x 3 foot space giving them a square foot per plant for a total of nine plants. I am pretty sure I out grew any potato bins.