If you’ve ever come across a garden or farm that has piles and piles of straw propped up, with little bits of potato poking out, you’ve probably wondered just what exactly you’ve stumbled across. Well, believe it or not, farmers all over the world have been growing potatoes in containers with straw for literally hundreds and hundreds of years. It first started in Scandinavia and then spread throughout the rest of the world, and today it’s one of the most popular ways to grow big potato crops.
Growing Potatoes in Containers with Straw
There are a couple of different reasons that farmers like to grow potatoes in containers with straw, but the biggest reason is to protect your potatoes from really nasty cold weather.
Potatoes take a decent amount of time to set up and establish (longer than a lot of other vegetables). Frost devastates them, crippling their growth, stunting their development, and totally tanking what could have been a decent potato harvest otherwise.
By using straw farmers are able to get potatoes out of the ground (which may have been frozen solid when the crop was started), but also are able to insulate their potatoes throughout the summer and into the fall/winter. They’ll be protected from frost no matter what.
How to Grow Potatoes in Containers with Straw
Growing your own potatoes in a container with straw is pretty simple and straightforward.
First, start off with about 6 inches of super rich, fertile soil at the bottom of as big a container as you can muster. We are talking massive, here – you’re going to have a lot of potatoes!
Second, sprinkle your seed potatoes on top of the soil. Don’t even worry about burying them too deep (or at all). Drop about 4-5 inches of straw on them and then let Mother Nature handle the rest for a while.
After you’ve noticed the potatoes sprouting (and you’ll be able to see that through the straw) – and once the sprouts have gotten about 8 inches tall – you want to add another layer of straw into you get about halfway up those stems.
Rinse and repeat this process as necessary until the straw reaches the top of the container and you are good to go.
That’s it, that’s all there is to it!
How Long Does It Take to Grow Potatoes in Containers with Straw?
Potatoes are going to require anywhere between 90 days and 120 days to grow to full maturity and be ready for harvest.
This is the same regardless of whether or not the potatoes are in the ground or in your straw container. In the container with straw, though, they’ll be protected from freezing temperatures, frost, and other problems that can wreak havoc on potato harvest.
Is Growing Potatoes in Containers with Straw Cost Effective?
Getting your hands on an oversized container you can fill with your potato starts and straw is likely going to be the most expensive part of this endeavor. Get a quality container, though, and you’ll be able to reuse it year after year.
That’ll drive down the price significantly.
How Often Should You Water Potatoes Growing in Containers with Straw?
You’ll want to water your straw often enough to keep it moist but not completely soaking wet.
This might be every couple of days, it might be once or twice a week, or it might be every other week or so. It all depends on the weather conditions in your garden and the amount of rain you’re getting.
Just keep the straw moist (not soaked straight through) and you’ll be good to go.
Are Potatoes Growing in Containers with Straw Still Okay to Eat?
You bet they are, in fact some people swear that potatoes grown in “no dig” straw containers are even tastier than potatoes coming right out of the ground.
You’ll have to try one you grow yourself to see the difference. Don’t be surprised if you swear by the flavor of these no dig potatoes as soon as you do, though.
What Are the Best Potatoes to Grow in Containers with Straw?
Almost every potato does well in a straw container growing environment, but a handful do even better than others. These include (but are not limited to):
- Norland Potatoes
- Nicola Potatoes
- Russian Blue Potatoes
- Russet Burbank Potatoes
- Ranger Russet Potatoes
… And more!