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.