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Growing potatoes in a Planty Garden

Aardappels uit een moestuinbak
Potatoes grown in a garden box

Can you grow potatoes in a garden box?

Yes, definitely. You can also grow them in an MM-Mini.
Aardappels oogsten uit de MM-mini
Harvesting potatoes from an MM-Mini
It took me a while to figure this out. Because when I started with my vegetable garden, I was always told that a garden box was way too shallow for a good potato harvest.

But I still wanted to experiment. So, I got some ideas off the internet and tried growing potatoes inside and outside of my garden boxes.

Experiments

The first couple of years were a disappointment. But that was my fault: I'd start but never really follow through.

One year, I spent a week building a beautiful box for my potatoes and filled it with tons of potting soil. Then I forgot to water it.

Another time, I planted potatoes in my garden box but let their neighbors overshadow them. Others I simply forgot to harvest. Then I found them again in the spring: completely rotten.

Adding an extra level

Aardappels telen met opzetbak
Potatoes in a homemade box
I also tried putting a small, bottomless box on top of my regular garden box. It fit perfectly on top of 2 square patches, so those 2 patches became twice as deep.

And yes: I managed to harvest a few potatoes that way.

40 or 20 cm deep?

The year after that, I wanted to plant more potatoes. Unfortunately, I only had one of those bottomless grow boxes.
Aardappels telen in vakken mét en zonder opzetbak
Potatoes in a garden box with and without an extra box on top
So I set up a little experiment. I used 4 square patches: 2 with an extra box on top - 40 cm deep - and 2 without at the usual 20 cm deep.

And guess what? The results were exactly the same.

The plants did equally well in all 4 patches. And the yield was no different either: about 1.5 kg per square patch.

So, there's no need for an extra box on top.

Harvest per m2

Before you think that 1.5 kg per patch is not that much: the average potato grower harvests 3.5 kg per square meter.

So, compared to that, my harvest is gigantic.
Gemiddeld 1,5 kilo aardappels per vak
On average, you'll get 1.5 kg potatoes per square patch
If you do the math, a garden box with 16 square patches would give you about 24 kg of potatoes. That's 16.5 kg per square meter.

You can harvest even more from an MM-Mini: between 1.5 and 2 kg.

Almost 5x as much harvest

Why is that? Because of the MM-Mix. All plants love it.

This soil mix gives potatoes exactly what they need: nutrients, moisture, and airy soil that drains well.

So, it pays off. And if you run out of space, you can grow more potatoes in an MM-Mini:
Geen plek? Geen probleem: gebruik een MM-mini
No space? No problem: use an MM-Mini

When should you plant potatoes?

You can plant potatoes from mid-March to mid-May.

There are early and late varieties, but I don't keep track of that. I plant whatever potatoes I have whenever I have time.

Usually, I'll just grab a few small ones from my mom's garden box. In April, they'll sprout spontaneously on their own. But you can also get special seed potatoes from your local garden center in early March.
Voorgekiemde aardappels in een bakje met MM-mix
Potatoes sprouting in a container with MM-Mix
If you want to do it by the book, put a few small potatoes in a deli container with moist MM-Mix and wait until you see some roots.

How do you plant potatoes?

Cut large potatoes into pieces: each piece should have at least 1 eye or sprout.
Stukjes aardappel; klaar om te poten
Potato pieces, ready to plant
Plant 2 small seed potatoes or 2 sprouted pieces of potato in each square patch.

Plant them as deep as you can: at the very bottom of your garden box.

The plants grow about 40 to 50 cm tall, so use square patches in the middle of your garden box.

Or, use a whole garden box and fill it up:
Hele bak vol aardappels
A whole garden box full of potatoes

How do you care for your potato plants?

After planting, the shoots will grow fast underground. The first leaves will appear a week or so later.

Water regularly and make sure the plants aren't in the shade. The potatoes need a lot of sunlight.

That's all there is to it.

If you like, you can give the plants some support by placing a mini-trellis made from coarse mesh garden wire over them.
Grofmazig tuingaas over aardappelplanten
Garden wire mesh over our potato plants
But that's not really necessary.

Harvesting

When the plants start flowering (around mid-June) there are small potatoes under the soil mix that you can already harvest.

If you're aiming for larger potatoes, wait and dig them up when the stems and leaves turn yellow and die. That only happens in July or August.
Aardappels oogsten: altijd leuk!
Harvesting potatoes: fun times!
Be careful not to damage the potatoes when you harvest them, otherwise, they won't keep. That's why I dig them up by hand and don't use any tools.

Plus, it's really fun to harvest potatoes by hand. I always feel like I'm digging for buried treasure.

Crop rotation

There is 1 major disadvantage to growing potatoes: sometimes they get potato blight.

The entire plants turn black and the potatoes turn brown. Or sometimes the affected area is so small, you might not notice it. Either way, there are pathogens in the soil mix. They'll eventually disappear on their own, but it can take 2 to 3 years.

If you put plant potatoes in the same area within those 2 to 3 years, the disease will strike mercilessly. It won't just affect your potatoes, but your tomatoes too.

Keep your garden boxes healthy

Never grow your potatoes in the same garden box 2 years in a row. If you want to play it safe, every 3 years.

So if you want to grow potatoes every year, you'll need at least 4 garden boxes.

But again: your extra effort will be rewarded:
Een deel van de oogst uit mijn aardappelbak
Just a taste of my whole potato harvest
Have fun!
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PS: Want to grow potatoes in a real Planty Garden? Check out the garden boxes and grow bags in the shop.

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