|This is the challenge:
Maximize the yield of potato in a micro plot of 3 x 3 feet.
|CAUTION: this page is no longer being updated! For current data, yields of different varieties .. please visit http://kenoshapotato.com
We believe that you can increase your yield (perhaps up to 99 pounds) in such a small area if the vines are grown in a container, raise the container as the vines grow taller. You need the optimal potato varieties and healthy seed.
Potato are cheap! Why grow garden potato?
True, field potato are cheap (valued at 20 cents a pound) ... but potato tubers are like sponges! You really want garden potatoes, grown without chemicals, with edible peals. The benefits of eating potatoes with the peals include more fibers, higher trace elements, higher anti-oxydants (up to 90 times more), anti cancer enzymes. Organic garden potato can fetch up to $5 a pound at farmer's markets. Grow your own and save a lot!
Click here to read more about the health benefits of potato.
|99 pounds of potato
This is the yield promised from a 9 square feet area. The container is assembled as the vines grow. You need to keep adding soil (mixed with compost and leaves) as soon as the vines grow out.
If you leave the vines exposed to the light for too long, they will stop growing stolons (the root system that connects the tubers to the vine).
Notice how this first wood plank is secured to the posts. The next plank will have the same size and settings. At the end of the season one whole container side can be removed to harvest the crop.
|This construction may be more expensive than the salvage wood construction shown below.|
|An alternative construction is done with "snow fencing T-bars" and salvage wood or chicken wire. Screws are partially drilled into the lumber in the corners - steel wire secures the planks together.
These pictures were taken on June 28th - in the next few days I'll be ready to add the second layer of salvage lumber and add in more compost, soil, leaves, straw ....
In 2009 I have tested the yields of two different potato cultivars (Gurney's Everbearing and Irish Treasure). The top picture I'm facing south - Irish Treasure is on the right side, while in the bottom picture I'm facing north and Gurney's Everbearing is on the right side. Notice how the GE vines are a little shorter.
It is important to match vines with the same vine growth habits, if you wish to grow several varieties in one box.
|First experiment: 2009 season - rather disappointing
Found no tubers growth above the original soil line. A very small yield even compared to the standard growing method (6" furrow). I've started this first test later in the season and grabbed whatever seed I had available. The selection of good and healthy seed tubers is paramount for a succesful harvest.
Heritage Potato Variety Selection
Better results can be expected with a potato cultivar which keeps setting tubers through the growing season. You can define the search for an "opportunistic" cultivar in the Kenosha Potato Project varieties catalog. If you grow two or more varieties in one container, it is paramount to select cultivars with similar vine growth habits. Also search for Tall Vines.
To optimally time the harvesting, it is best to mix varieties with the same expected maturity. Don't mix an early variety with a late one.
Finally, in your variety selection, we guess that cultivars that feature Tall Vines growth will perform better. Heritage varieties may work better because the modern agri-industry has selected varieties that don't grow very tall (long vines would tangle the harvesting equipment).
The challenge to grow 99 pounds of potato tubers in a micro plot is bound to the correct seed selection. Seed piece density may also play a role.
Usually potato seed pieces are placed in the field furrows with spacing of 12 - 18", while in the potato box we are suggesting to use a much higher density. Try to space 4 - 6" in a row. In a 36" wide box you may want to test 2 and 3 rows.
For 2010 I've kept records of varieties that grow shallow tubers on long vines - plus varieties that produce larger crops.
2009 best producers (in traditional furrow - great potential for container growth) are:
|New, simple Potato Box Design - four 2 x 8 boards|
|Occasionally you may find a board that splits in the middle - metal mending braces may be necessary.|
|Simple alternative - The Potato Bin
This solution may NOT work well with varieties that grow tall vines - the smaller size of the bin will not meet the 99 pound challenge! But you may be able to grow 10 - 15 pounds without digging.
|web page updated: May, 2010|