Archive for ‘New Growth Project’

March 26, 2012

Planting Potatoes in Plastic Bags

by Ciaran Burke

Harvesting New Potatoes

Early potato tubers are usually chitted before being planted outside. This involves placing the tubers in a well lit, frost free place. The shoots develop from the eyes of the tuber and will then be planted outside when the soil has warmed to 6° Celcius.

Early varieties take between 75 – 90 days to mature. Harvesting can start in early summer. Irish people use St Patrick’s Day, 17th March, as the date by which you must have the early potatoes planted.

Not everyone has space for planting potatoes, in fact not everyone has a garden. However, just about everyone can enjoy harvesting a few of their home grown potatoes in summer using old plastic compost bags for planting. To obtain an earlier crop, tubers can be planted in a tunnel or glasshouse. Tubs or barrels can also be used. I decided to re-use a couple of old plastic compost bags. Here is what I did:

Step 1: I turned the bags inside out to reveal their dark side which attracts more heat, and looks nicer. I rolled down the bag so as to allow light for the shoots when they grow. Into the base of the bags I made a number of slits to allow drainage.

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- 10 CM LAYER OF COMPOST IN BAGS

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- 10 CM LAYER OF COMPOST IN BAGS

Step 2: From our compost heap I got a wheel barrow of lovely dark compost.  A 10cm (4 inches) layer was shoveled into the bags and then firmed with my hands.

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- COVERING TUBERS

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- COVERING TUBERS

Step 3: The tubers I placed on the compost and then covered with a further 10cm (4 inches) of the good stuff, and firmed. Then the compost was watered.

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- TUBERS PLACED ON COMPOST

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- TUBERS PLACED ON COMPOST

Aftercare: When the stems grow to 15cm (6inches), more compost will be added, to a depth of 10cm (4 inches). As the plants grow the sides of the bags are unrolled to allow for greater depth. I will continue to add more compost as the stems grow until it is 5cm (2 inches) below the top of the bag. The potatoes will need to be well watered. They need a weekly feed of liquid seaweed fertilizer to promote growth. When the plants start to flower the crop will be ready to harvest.  As a true Irish man I can’t wait to cook the first potatoes; steamed and then eaten with melted butter and some chopped chives from the garden, yum!

  • There is nothing quite like your own compost from the garden when growing vegetables. Learn about making compost on my other blog Ciaran’s Gardening Blog and download an information sheet on Home Garden Composting.
  • Listen to a podcast of “In The Garden with Ciaran Burke” – Episode 13
  • WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE NEW GROWTH PROJECT HORTICULTURE COURSE. This is a free training course that we are running in our own garden in Co. Mayo, Ireland. For more info: THE GARDEN SCHOOL Each week we make a video of what the students are doing on the course.

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March 13, 2012

The New Growth Project – First week Video

by Ciaran Burke
New Growths Potting

New Growths busy potting

Last tuesday we had the first class of The New Growth project. Click on the link below to see how our students got on on the first days.

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