We acquired several broken baskets at a town recycling event here on our little island. They were headed to the landfill and I have a thing for almost-perfectly-good large wicker baskets. They can be used for many wonderful things both outside and in. Although most of the baskets were simply missing their handles (and I further dismantled the broken handles so the baskets looked as good as new), I sensed their lives could be extended, or at the very least they could make a final appearance in our fire pit, rather than taking up space in the landfill.
Always searching for innovative ways to corral our garden potatoes so they don’t end up growing everywhere in the garden, I decided to try planting a potato basket. If gardeners can plant potatoes in such vertical gardens as trash cans and stacked tires, a wicker basket might prove just as useful, a little more breathable, and a bit kinder on the eye than tires and garbage cans amongst my veggies.
Simply add a 4-6 inch layer of compost mixed with soil to the bottom of your basket and then lay your potatoes about 4-5 inches apart atop the soil.
My friend, Yangin Sherpa, who plants acres of potatoes in Nepal (near Mount Everest) claims that she gets the highest yield by slicing inch-long pieces of potato with a single eye on each piece as her “seeds.” We took her advice and planted the little slices in our basket.
Then add about a foot of soil on top of your potato slices.
We’ve watered the basket periodically, and lo and behold potato tendrils have sprouted a few weeks later!
We keep adding more soil, always leaving 6 inches of leaves above the soil level, until the basket is full and we’ll have a basketful of potatoes by the the fall!
How do we harvest the potato baskets? We tip the basket over onto a tarp that we place alongside it, and gently dig out the potatoes in the soil and reuse the baskets until they’ve melted into the Earth. They’ll then be composted back into usable plant food. I don’t have a photo of our potato harvest, but suffice it to say we get a basketful!
Do you have any broken down basket reuses or innovative ways to plant potatoes? Please share.
11 thoughts on “Potato Tower in a Hamper”
that is so cool . I plant in lots recycled containers but never tried baskets.
Thanks, Lisa! When I saw the baskets being thrown away, the idea came to mind. They’re perfect for the job.
That’s such a good idea, I’ve never tried growing potatoes in them. Shallow wicker baskets work really well with bamboo, twig or wire supports for peas and beans. You might even be able to do some companion planting in yours.
Great idea about companion planting, Siobhan! Thanks.
Lovely – and so much prettier than just planting them in a bag of soil! We used to have our potatoes in a raised bed and I was tired of them taking up so much space so I moved them into pots this year and I’m so glad I did!
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Yes, they do take up room, and then show up as volunteers even when they weren’t planted. But we love potatoes so we just let it happen.
Yeah the volunteers crack me up… We are using the old bed for carrots and the new potatoes already reminding us that they had this spot first. We planted calendulas around our potatoes which are great at keeping the bad bugs away.
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Oh! I have some calendula seedlings. Will go plant them near the potatoes.
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This is a great idea. I see old baskets constantly on the side of the road ( here in Arkansas people leave unwanted things on the curb for others to take). I will be pickings some up to try this. Thanks for the idea. 🙂
So glad you like it! Just keep them watered and you’ll have a bunch of potatoes at the end of the season.