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Growing potatoes in raised bed vs grow bags


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Nature Boy
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:03 pm    Post subject: Growing potatoes in raised bed vs grow bags Reply with quote

I plan to grow my maincrop spuds in a raised bed, but am just wondering what people's experiences are with both raised beds and grow bags. In general, is the yield in grow bags much less per seed potato that with raised beds?
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Qzy
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main thing with the bags is to make sure they are well watered. The top may appear damp but the bottom of the bag could be bone dry. Also, don't put too many seeds in the bag, and give them a feed or two as the nutrients of the compost in the bag is used up. Bags can be started earlier as they can be moved to a frost free area if Frost is due, and also there are no real pests to worry about (Wireworm, slugs etc..). The yield is lower but you can have beautiful new potatoes a few weeks earlier!
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Nature Boy
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that. I'll probably try my earlies in bags and the mains in the raised bed. I have around 30 main seeds to go in the bed 10x4' so it might be a squeeze. Anyone got any spacing tips for raised beds?
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Lius
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Nature Boy,

I converted my garden from conventional row type to "Square Foot" raised beds a few years ago. My garden gets a bit flooded at times and the raised beds keeps the soil well drained. I made my beds 12" high for root crops and use “Mel’s Mix” with home-made compost, no fertiliser. The Mel’s Mix is great for drainage and water retention. I never tried spuds in grow bags but it sounds a bit tricky for watering etc.

With Square Foot you plant one seed potato per one square foot, I was a bit sceptical at first, but the spuds grew great (apart from last year - rain, rain, rain). The yield might be a bit less per plant than regular drills but because they are only 12" apart in both directions you have at lease twice as many plants in the same space so the overall yield is greater for a given area. I am getting smaller yields on Sarpo Mira, they tend to grow horizontally which requires more area than traditional vertical growing varieties but being able to grow without spraying is the big benefit foe me. I am now experimenting with the compost mix to see if I can increase the yield per plant i.e. adding manure and seaweed to the compost pile.

Raised beds are so neat and tidy and easy to weed and water and the Square Foot method is great for keeping your crops organised, rotated, earthling-up, weeding and for monitoring yields.

See:- http://www.squarefootgardening.org/
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Greengage
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

have you ever tried the no dig method, this guy is Australian but it works here as well providing you plant in March/April not August as he has done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1OShZZUt0k
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Lius
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Greengage,

I looked at all the variations of that and Square Foot raised beds is actually considered by some a variation of no dig but a lot less work. Some people use straw like that guy in the raised beds.

Raised beds with Mel's Mix never nees digging at all, you just throw the new compost on top and watering washes the nutrients down to the roots. The soil is so friable that the toughest weed can be easily pulled out with the roots in tact and without damaging nearby vegtable plants.
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Nature Boy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lius, would the potatoes have enough room at the sides of the bed if it was one per sq ft? At the top corner e.g they would only have 6" to one side and the top. I have exactly 33 seed mains so should be able to fit them in 12" rows spaced at 10" per seed, even if I only build an 8' bed. I plan on another bed to grow squash and courgette so would definitely use the sq ft method of growing vertically for the squashes around the edges and courgettes in the middle
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Lius
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nature Boy,

In the Square foot method with 12" deep beds each potato seed gets a 12" cubed space, about what they would have in a grow bag..

I was amazed at first at how well they grew in such a small space but I put it down to the Mel's Mix and good compost. As I said the yeilds per plant is a bit less but you have twice as many plants in the same area.

I have eight 4ft x 8ft beds, any bed can grow 32 potato plants with ease.

Give it a go, you will never look back.
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Nature Boy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah I see it's the depth too. Might give it a go so, ta. Do you normally clear the bed each year and put in new soil or rotate crops? Also it it easy/cheap to get the ingredients for Mel's mix?
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Lius
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nature Boy,

The Mel's Mix goes into the bed when you start off, after each crop you top up with pure compost leaving the Mel’s Mix as the base. I get two to three crops a year from each bed, Right now I have Kale, Broccoli & Lettuce ready to eat and over-wintered Onions & Garlic that should be ready by June.

Mel’s Mix is

1/3 peat moss – easy to get at DIY’s or garden centres.

1/3 coarse vermiculite – used to insulate around chimney liners, you will get it get at a builders providers or insulation suppliers.

1/3 compost - The compost is very important as there is no fertiliser used. Try to get a good mix of different types of compost i.e. kitchen compost + cow manure + seaweed + chicken manure, etc. The farmyard manure and compost you buy bagged in the garden centres is rubbish, it is bulked-up with non organic material like peat (a bit like beef burgers).

Plus a little elbow grease to mix it up, do it in manageable size batches, put a big tarp out on the lawn and throw above ingredients onto it, mix it up and drag the tarp to the bed and dump it in. You only do this when you start the bed the first time and it a lot less work that digging heavy wet soil.

See:- http://www.squarefootgardening.org/
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Greengage
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What ever happened to simple gardening,
Mels mix, Permaculture, No dig,square foot gardening, raised beds, container gardening, poly tunnells, xeriscaping, carbon sequestering,moon planting etc etc...
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Nature Boy
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think what happened is people only have tiny gardens now so don't have the room for traditional methods and need other methods to make the most of the limited space they have.
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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greengage wrote:
What ever happened to simple gardening,
Mels mix, Permaculture, No dig,square foot gardening, raised beds, container gardening, poly tunnells, xeriscaping, carbon sequestering,moon planting etc etc...


Some of these involve additional expense. For example, a raised bed will need you to buy the frame of the raised bed. Then, you'll have to fill this with soil/compost/manure. Even though soil is everywhere, unless you have a free supply you'll have to buy more to fill up your raised bed. There are merits to raised beds, etc, but they tend to come at a cost.
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apprentice
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lius,
i put down seed potatoes last week..i just used compost..just reading yer conversation there..i didnt put down any mix or a bit..compost on top of the grass and threw the spuds down...12" apart and the rows are big enough 12/13" high...just looking for few tips
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apprentice
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lius,
i put down seed potatoes last week..i just used compost..just reading yer conversation there..i didnt put down any mix or a bit..compost on top of the grass and threw the spuds down...12" apart and the rows are big enough 12/13" high...just looking for few tips
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