Smell Like Dirt

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Spud-O-Matic Update!

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I’ve been horrible about keeping everyone updated on the potatoes.  But here’s the good, the bad and the ugly.  First, I will say that we enjoyed wonderful organically grown Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold potatoes.  BUT, not as many as we could have enjoyed if I had not made a couple of mistakes.  Mistake #1:  Grow only one kind of potato per bin.  The varieties grew at different rates and when one would be 6″ above the leaves and therefore time to add more leaves or compost, the other was only 2-3 inches tall so I had to bury them too deep and think I killed a few of them.   Also, in July, I had to relocate my potato bin because a local TV station wanted to come and shoot a piece on composting, and I had to move the bin to make room for the cameraman to get a good shot.   And if you remember from the video, I used chicken wire instead of hardware cloth so the pile didn’t move very well.  And the last issue wasn’t really a mistake:  At some point, a volunteer Butternut Squash started growing and at first I didn’t know what it was and my curiousity dictated that I had to let it grow, and then when I realized what it was, I decided I wanted some BN squash as badly as I wanted potatoes, so I just stopped adding leaves about half way up the bin and let everything grow.  After the vines bloomed and started turning yellow, I dug up the potaotes and we ate them with dinner that evening adn they were wonderful.   Then I let the BN squash continue and we got 5-6 off of that vine (I had two more volunteer vines in the garden area, so it was a good year for BNS, especially since I did not plant any).  But don’t let any of this discourage you from using this method to grow potatoes in your garden.  I have seen this work with my very own eyes at Renfrow’s Hardware in Matthews.   And David says to start bins at separate times so you have a succession of crops throughout the summer.  He recommends (for our Zone 7B) March 15, April 15 and May 15.   But, I don’t think I have the attention span to grow vegetables.  Plants have to be able to take care of themselves in my garden because I’m too easily distracted by everything else that’s going on out there.  But, I wanted to grow something to eat and I did….just not as many potatoes as I thought…..but a banner crop of rogue Butternut Squashes!

spudomatic results

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3 Comments»

  AJ Mattson wrote @

Carol:
I love this potato bin idea and I’m going to start one immediately! I’ve got the materials under my house – I inherited them when I bought it. Yay for recycling!

  Charles Hayes wrote @

Carol,

Thank you for the update on the Spud-O-Matic. I’ve seen several web sites that recommend constructing “Build-As-You-Grow” wooden potato bins, but your method seems much lighter, easier to construct and more economical.

Did you start a new Spud-O-Matic in ’09? If so, I’d be curious to know if the corrections you suggested to your original method, improved your yield.

Charles

  josh wrote @

Carol,

I tried a spudomatic inspired variation this past year. I put Seed Potatoes in old metal trash cans with drain holes drilled in them. It worked alright and we got about 3 pounds of potatoes from two cans. The medium I chose was straw and compost. The new potatoes grew in a vein of compost and not in the straw as well. next spring I will try again using more compost and maybe some leaf mold.-josh


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