As we plow deeper into Operation Green Thumb, the unorthodox but YouTube successful technique of growing potatoes in 5 gallon buckets is next on our list of adventures.
Several weeks ago a bag of Yukon Gold and a bag of Russian Banana Fingerling seed potatoes were purchased from a local home improvement store. The seeds were placed in egg cartons and stored in the coolness and darkness of our basement to be chitted. This weekend we planted the seeds in a combination of five gallon buckets and 4 gallon water jugs where they will reside for the next 110 to 120 days before harvesting.
What is chitting? Good question, it will undoubtedly be one of the phrases defined in our end of the season Gardening language post.
Here is Wikipedia’s definition of chitting: a method of preparing potatoes or other tubers for planting. The seed potatoes are placed in a tray (often in egg cartons) in a light and cool place but shielded from direct sunlight. All but three or four of the “eyes” (sprouting parts) of the potato are removed, leaving the strongest growths only. After the sprouts are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, the seed potatoes are planted in the ground.
Once the potatoes were chitted we prepared the buckets for planting. The bottom of each bucket was filled to 3″ with soil. We used raised garden soil mix because it had already been purchased for the raised beds.
Three each of the potato seeds were placed, sprout side up, in the bucket and covered with 6″ more soil that was enhanced by 1.5 tablespoons of bone meal.
Why bone meal? Bone meal adds phosphorous to the soil which will help the roots grow stronger. Calcium in the bone meal helps prevent root rot. Plus bone meal is an organic material. It is our intent to keep our garden completely organic.
As the potato plant emerges to the surface we will add another inch or two of soil every other week or so to keep the roots from being exposed to the sun. Potatoes that are exposed to the sun while growing may turn green. Green potatoes are poisonous.
We will also spray our potato leaves and our tomatoes with an aspirin and water mixture occasionally to keep blight away. But that too is for a different post.