Survival Gardening–Tuber Time


Potatoes harvested in 2009


It’s been a while since I’ve said anything about my own survival gardening efforts. I’ll focus on tubers today and tomorrow. Pictured above is my harvest of Kennebec potatoes, minus a few small ones we had for lunch the other day and a few others I kept back for planting next year. Only some of these came from potatoes I saved back from last year.

Come to think of it, about a half dozen others didn’t make it into the spotlight here either, since I picked them a few days earlier, and they went into other meals.

Believe it or not, these were grown in 15 three and five gallon buckets of soil mix. If you’re a serious gardener with decent soil and a good amount of space, this probably seems like a pretty meager harvest. I’ll plug my ears while you try not to laugh. It’s OK. My skin’s thicker than the potatoes’.

On the other hand, anybody who has limited space should take heart because they can indeed grow potatoes. Sure you could get a nice bag or two at the store, but these are all natural and home grown, and we’re thinking survival gardening.

Some buckets did better than others because I have a perennial problem of tree roots winding their way into some of my containers. Naturally, that hinders successful growth of anything in the invaded containers. The roots are a mess to get out, too.

I’ve got a tarp under my buckets, but there are a few small holes to let any excess water drain through, and the tree roots know their address. You won’t have that problem if you grow potatoes in containers on a deck or patio.

Overall, I was pleased with my potato crop this year. They did better for me than in several years in the past. I was surprised by how large some of them are. I believe I can attribute success to the inclusion of an organic fertilizer in my soil mix, which contains soil friendly bacteria.

I should say a word about my efforts the past couple years to grow potatoes in grow bags seated in concrete mixing trays. I was excited about the idea, but it’s been very disappointing. The concept seems like it should work. In spite of attempts to water from overhead, rather than bottom water and risk roots getting too wet, only half of the eight bags I used this year produced plants. Of those, none produced tubers worth keeping, if they produced any at all. If you try growing potatoes in growbags, let me know what success you’ve had.

Or if you’ve grown potatoes in buckets or containers of some kind, how did that work out for you?


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.