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Sack of Potatoes - For John

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Not applicable
John, some many months ago you had a off topic post about growing potoatoes in a sack and wanted to see what yeild you would get etc etc. Did you ever follow that route? Reason I ask is that I did three sacks, about 6 weeks apart each. (Planted my last one about 10 days ago). The first is probably about ready to harvest in maybe 4 weeks (sack full of compost/sand) so will have to give yeild when I harvest. (in case you wondering how the grow in JHB in winter, a sheltered sunny spot away from the frost and bucket of water every 2 weeks.)
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43 REPLIES 43
Super Contributor
Watering needs to be more frequent (perhaps same quantity but in smaller doses more frequently, half a bucket a week. Do not alllow the plants to wilt, you lose yield veryday a plant wilts. As a potato plant grows, more medium (soil or the stuff you're using) needs to be added to the base of the plant. As for too much organic stuff in your growing medium, potatoes don't like it too much due to an increase in pests and diseases but if you started with clean potting medium, it shouldn't be a problem. Potatoes also have a high calcium requirement for quality produce. Add some lime if you have it. I'll also like to know the outcome.
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Not applicable
For calcium what about crushed eggshells (calcium carbonate mainly). (When I have a sore tooth i chew a little eggshell as it is an antacid)
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Super Contributor
Hozit I did 4 bags which I am about to harvest.. Also I did it in what I considered the worst possible time as I live in a very wet part of Cape town and they have grown through the winter.. But things look good from the outside.
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Not applicable
Hey there CPS, Use clean river sand water sparingly but often, potatoes don't like water logged roots - they die from Wilts & Root rots. Fertliser with a small capful (20ml) of Neutrog or other organic fertiliser per plant & if you feel up to it a spray of Kelpak every 2 weeks as per directions on the bottle will work wonders for calcium etc. Lastly, write in to be on "Boer soek 'n vrou", with 3 bags you are going to be one of teh few sucessful farmers I know & a hot catch :-)
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Not applicable
By the way how do sweet potatoes do - easy to grow?
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Super Contributor
The difference between a sweet potato and ordinary potato, is that a sweet potato is a root tuber while normal potatoes are stem tubers. This means that a sweet potato is a swollen root and potato a swollen stem. Sweetpotato is easy to grow but follow a few guidelines. The best way to plant sweet potatoes is by using the stem of an older plant (as compared to a normal potato where a tuber is the planting material). Uses pieces of stem with the tip of the plant on it. A 30cm piece is good enough. Strip the leaves from the lower parts of the plant and when planting, make sure three nodes are underground. Sweetpotatoes prefer warmer temperatures and so are suited to summer planting. Also top up with soil as tubers grow to avoid exposing the tubers to sunlight and pests.
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Not applicable
Thanks guys, I have an organic fertalizer thingy at home plus the good old compost heap (two 18 cubic meter brick bins purpose built actually) that we use every piece of useful organic plant and garden matter in. One is filled through summer and pruning season (mulch my fruit trees when I prune them) and let it sit for a year to decomp. To this I add used antracite ash and occasional lime and other organic heat generators to speed up decomp. So we alternate the bins every year. The other bin from the year before yields my needs for good stuff for that season. Save a fortune on annual plant bed preparation and organic veggie patch plus lawn dressing etc.

This I used with clean sand (started potaoes in sand) and as they grew up in the sack I filled alternately with sand and mixture of compost and fertaliser etc until sack was full.

As for "Boer soek a vrou" thanks but this is a happily married person ;-)

I am more a baby potatoe kinda guy so need to experiment with different harvasting times to get the right sized potatoes I prefer. Dont like those brick size jumbo tatoes you can get, find they become "glassy" and taste really yuck.
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Super Contributor
Eggshells are a potential source of calcium for plats but the calcium may not be readily available unless the eggshell is well composted, which take a bit of time. For potatoes, a spray on form of calcium as mentioned below is a good way to get calcium in.
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Contributor
This is interesting, by then I was not part of this highly informative forum. Can you guys give me the precise formula/procedure/recipe? Things like what type of sack to use e.c.t. .. I would love to start as well..
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Not applicable
Sure thing, easiest thing to get started. Grab an old potato that is "budding" and an old sack. I use my old Anthracite 40 kg plastic type bags, but you can use the old "streep" cotton sack if you got one. Basically any growing container, could even be an old plant pot or I have heard guys using old tyres stacked up.
You want to start with small amout of sand, enough to cover tato about 2 cm, and plant the tato in it. Drown the sand with water and leave alone until the shoots start growing up. as they grow add more sand/compost/potting medium to cover almost all the shoots and water again in moderation. repeat until container/sack is full and leave until havest time. I have heard general time is about 90 days from start of growth, but some leave it until flowers (little purple ones) start to show and other leave until flowers die then harvest.
In a sack its easy cause you can just roll the side down again and reuse soil. Tyres etc i think are more cumbersome and arent moved that easily...

Talking of sweet potatoes i think iw ill try these as well in another sack as the temp is warming up.
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Super Contributor
If you don't have access to sweet potato cuttings, I suggest buy a sprouting sweetpotato, plant in a smaller comtainer and take cuttings from this mother plant. You get better quality sweet potato from cuttings instead of planting tubers. I've grown SP in containers before (largely for cutting production). I would allow for deeper soil in the sack. You can also increase the organic matter in the potting soil. I used a mixture of soil and composted pine bark (this will need fetilizer). Sand and compost might work as well. SP takes a longer time to harvest than baby potatoes ( no baby SP I'm afraid) so keep an eye out on tuber development. Some SP cultivars have cute leaves, so you can also use the plant as an ornamental ground cover as well. I suggest 3 cuttings evenly spaced in an anthracite sack.
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Frequent Contributor
CPS - Best baby potatoes i ever harvested were from some sprouting potatoes I threw out of my kitchen window and forgot at Yzerfontein. - Sandveld type sand (doesn't hold water), no fertiliser, in a cool spot -south east facing.
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Super Contributor
John, question. Once you harvest your potatoes, please compare your yield to an average pocket. Then look at the price of 'your yield' at an average veg store - a farmers market especially, since that will be about the quality of your yield. Then compare what you spent on soils and additives when you planted your crop .... consider the time you contributed in putting the whole thing together. Then decide if this was a profitable adventure - or if you just did it for the pure pleasure of watching your food grow after the satisfaction of planting it yourself :-)
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Super Contributor
Gardening hardly ever works out profitable, economy of scale is against you.
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Super Contributor
A bit of the topic. If you want to buy indiginous trees try the nursery near s*****uza. Most varieties suitable for the colder climates @ R25 bucks.
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Super Contributor
not one cent spent.. other than the potatoes themselves. so every pot is profit. the point of the idea is not wether It is cheaper to buy but if you can feed a family without land ..the answer is yes.
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Super Contributor
Did you add in the cost of your time/labour, water, space and I'll send the bill for my consultations. (I used to do this sort of thing as my profession at one time.)
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Super Contributor
because you failed at it does not make it a failure.
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Super Contributor
The only failure was the subsistence farmer who was exposed to development workers with too little knowledge which was then replaced by beliefs. Hence beliefs got in the way of sustainability and productivity. One of these beliefs was organic agricuture. Plants take up inorganic nutrients wether applied as chemical fertiliser or compost. By-the-way growing baby potatoes is a full stomach luxury something which the poor cannot afford. Baby potatoes is somewhat of an unethical waste of inputs and food.
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