Results report: potatoes in bushel basket

As promised early in the season.
The bushel basket method is, basically, get an old bushel basket or laundry basket (not as picturesque of course) or anything of similar size and porosity, and put some potting soil in the bottom, then one hill's worth of seed potatoes (I used 4 halves per basket), and cover with more potting soil. As the season progresses, add more potting soil before any danger of taters working their way to the top.
Plain old white skinned certified seed potatoes, which normally have a few big ones and a lot of small ones fine for cooking or mashing.
Somewhat rainy year this year. It helped, probably, to have the potatoes up out of the ground.
Results were:
Harvest was of course easy. Turn the basket upside down, pick them up. No cut potatoes, none left undiscovered.
Size was good, larger than usual. Potatoes are uniformly nice looking, several bakers per hill.
Yield was probably about the same *number* of potatoes per hill as usual, just that more of them were larger. 3-6 pounds per basket, I'd say.
Expenses increased due to the potting soil addition, but I used only acceptable and not great potting soil. And I'm left with a basket half full of handy spent potting soil to turn in.
Altogether, a good experience. And our kids thought of it as a nice science experiment too. Yield and quality were improved, along with cost. Not sure I could have done it to replace the total potato consumption of our family, but perhaps it would be possible given longer, multi-hill enclosures of some sort.
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I have used the same idea with sweet potato slips. I only produced 2 to 3 per container, but it was better than nothing if you dont have the room to plant more.
Dwayne

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Thanks for the report!
I know a lot of people do a similar thing with tires, which would have the advantage of more surface area than laundry baskets. But you never know, I might have old laundry baskets some day....
Pat
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I used a similar method in my garden this year, with decent success. I had a new garden plot divided into 3' wide beds. I put 30" wire fence around it, leaving a plot about 3' X 4'. I planted potatoes on the top of the plot, and covered them with soil. As they grew, I covered them with alternating layers of leafy compost and cheap potting soil. By the middle of July, I had covered the plants up to the top of the wire and the vines were falling to the ground. Harvest was decent, though not distributed throughout the bin; most of them were on the bottom. I had enough success to try it again next year.
I think the toughest thing was trying to keep them watered. Even the heaviest rain could not get through all of that compost and dirt on top of the vines, and get down to the roots. In the end, I had to dig some trenches all around the outside of the bed and put water in there, hoping it would soak underneath the bed. It must have worked, because as soon as I did that, the vines finally perked up.
IC Gardener Iowa City, Iowa Zone 5A
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