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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Potatoes in Bins

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 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Potatoes in Bins

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When it comes to versatile easy to grow foods, potatoes are usually at the top of the list. No matter whether you are looking to get away from GMOs, gluten based foods, or want to be as ready as possible for a long term food shortage, being able to grow a large number of potatoes in a small space can offer you an affordable and easy option.   Today you will find many websites that talk about growing 100 potatoes in a 4′ x 4′  bin. While these sites make it sound very easy, the fact remains you can fail if you don’t address some things that are left out. Here are the most common points where you can fail to grow a hundred pounds of potatoes in a very small area. Fortunately once you overcome these challenges, it is only a few steps more until you can grow potatoes year-round indoors, as well as in an outdoor container.

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Starting the Plants at the Wrong Time

 

It is very important to realize that potatoes are more or less cold weather crops.  Unfortunately, if you set out the eyes too soon, they will either freeze or rot from dampness.  Regardless of the strain of potato you are working with, it is best to start them in March or April.

 

On the other side of the equation, if the soil temperature reaches above 80 degrees while the tubers are forming, the plant continue making leaves and vines, but stop making tubers or adding to existing ones.   Soil temperature can be a critical point to consider, especially if you are growing strains that take a longer time to mature, or you want multiple sets of tubers from the same plant. You should make every effort to ensure you can control the soil temperature so that you get as many potatoes as possible from each plant.  

 

Using Potato Sets from Non-Viable Potatoes

 

Have you ever bought a bag of potatoes, only to look at them a few weeks later and find all kinds of eyes growing on them? If so, then you may conclude that buying potatoes from the store is a cheap, easy way to obtain potato sets. Even though these potatoes may look like they are going to grow, many things that happened before you bought the potatoes could prevent those eyes from maturing into viable plants.

 

  • Frozen storage potatoes may look like they are going to blossom into plants, however the freezing that they experienced will curtail any further growth.
  • In some cases, potatoes are also treated with chemicals and radiation to prevent eye formation and rotting.  Even if you see a small eye starting on a tuber, it will not develop any further.
  • You must always be aware of GMO potatoes, which are slowly making their way onto the market. While these potatoes may also look like they are going to grow, chances are the eyes are not viable.

 

As much as you may want to save money on potato sets and reuse kitchen scraps at the same time, it may not be worth your while to try and grow potatoes from supermarket produce. That being said, if you want to give them a try, it would be best to plant them in a conventional garden. If you are successful in obtaining tubers from these sources, you can always try to plant the next generation of eyes in a bin and see how they do. Just make sure that you know whether you are using an early, mid, or late season strain of potato so that you know what to expect from them in a container setting.

 

Using the Wrong Strain of Potatoes

 

Even though you may not pay it much attention to it  when you buy potatoes in the store, there are actually three seasonal types of potatoes that you must know about before you can grow them.

 

  • Early season potatoes will usually produce edible tubers in 75 – 90 days of setting out the eyes. While you may think these plants are very useful because they mature fast, they will not work very well in a container where you are mounding the soil up in order to try and produce more tubers from the stems. These potatoes will make more roots extending from the stems, however those roots will not turn into tubers.   If you do decide to use early-season potatoes, do not expect multiple crops from them.  In addition, you may also find  but once the first crop of potatoes is harvested, it may be too late to set out a second set, even though the weather is good for starting other crops.  For example, if you plant early season potatoes in March and are ready to plant again in June, the temperatures and lighting conditions may still be wrong for these strains of potatoes.  Even though they will produce leaves and vines, it is likely they will not produce tubers.

 

  • Mid-season potatoes take from 95 to 110 days to produce tubers. Unlike early-season potatoes, you can plant mid-season ones as late as July. Unfortunately, this will not overcome the challenge associated with stems that produce roots but not tubers.

 

  • Late-season potatoes require 120 to 135 days to produce tubers. Within this category, you will find strains of potatoes that will produce tubers from roots extending from the vines. As a result these are the best ones to use if you are planning to use a bin and want potatoes to grow in layers from the bottom to the top of the bin.  Do not forget to harvest the lower levels of the bin so that they do not rot in place.

 

Not Giving Potatoes  Enough Room

 

If you have never grown potatoes before, you may be amazed at just how quickly the vines can grow and spread. Even though you are planning to mound the soil vertically, that doesn’t mean you can simply plant them so close together that there isn’t enough room for the potatoes below-ground to spread out and grow. Failure to provide enough space for the potatoes to grow, will result in either extremely small potatoes, or none at all.

 

Since potatoes also draw a number of insects, and are susceptible to several diseases, adequate air flow around and through the vines is also very important. This can only be accomplished when the vines have enough room between them.   If you are using a 4-foot by 4-foot bin, it would be best to limit your number of potato sets to 4 to 6 for the entire bin until you become accustomed to the growth characteristics variety you are working with.  You can always increase the number of plants in future crops.  Do not add more than 2 plants per growing cycle so  that you can find the optimal number as quickly as possible.   Do not forget that potato plants also take a good bit of water, and large numbers of plants with tubers underground will absorb it very quickly. When you plant potatoes too close together, it becomes even harder to gauge the amount of water to give them.

 

Improper Moisture Control

 

As hardy as potato plants are, do not forget that the tubers can be very fragile. If you water them too much, or the water does not drain properly from the bin, the tubers will rot.   When setting up your potato bin, try to arrange the bottom area, so that it is closer to the ground on one side. From there, all you need to do is make sure that you have plenty of vents on the lowest side of the bin’s bottom. You can also use a layer of gravel before you start adding soil to the bin. The water will drain faster from the gravel, and help reduce the amount of water that wicks back up into the main growing area.   

 

Once you have a good drainage system setup, you may still find it challenging to know how much water to give the potato plants. Since the soil in the bin may wind up being as much as four or five feet deep, it can be very difficult to judge the moisture content near the bottom of the bin. You will be well served by adding moisture gauges at least three different depths in the bin so that you can find out what is going on well below the surface of the soil.

 

From french fries and potato chips to baked potatoes, wine, and partial wheat flour substitute, chances are you can think of hundreds of ways to use these tubers.  Since potatoes can lend themselves well to container planting, they are ideal for preppers that want to grow a significant food staple in a small area.  Before you begin experimenting with your first potato bin, make sure that you have it set up right, and also that you choose the best possible plants for your goals.

 

*A Scott Hughes original for FP!

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Writes​​ ​​about​​ ​​freedom ​​and​​ ​​more​​ ​​​​at www.perrinlovett.me​​​​.​​ ​​His weekly National Affairs Column - never a dull read - appears at The Piedmont Chronicles​​​​. THE SUBSTITUTE​​ is his first Novel. He​​ ​​is​​ ​​still none​​ ​​too​​ ​​fond​​ ​​of​​ ​​government​​ ​​meddling.

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Excellent Ideas from an Experienced Survivalist to Homestead in an Apartment

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After watching the 1999 romantic comedy, ‘Blast from the Past,’ I had always wondered about the genius of Dr. Calvin Webber who managed 35 years in an underground shelter. His wife gave birth to an only child Adam, who ventured out into the outside world for the first time in his 35th year. The point is the film convinced its viewers very realistically that it is possible to live isolated for at least 35 years if we make meticulous plans. 

History is overloaded with numerous examples of self-sufficient lifestyles. Many communes had developed their norms to survive and maintain law and order within their secluded lands. There are many anecdotes about people living their lives without interacting with the external world. The “Lena and Ole” compilations are based on Norwegians who chose the upper lands of the Midwest as their foster homes. Here is a one-liner, 

“Ole painted the barn in July and had put on two jackets because the user manual of the paint said- Put on two coats!”

This is an inadvertent simple joke that has no ill intentions. Will Rogers once said, “Everything is funny as long as it’s happening to someone else.” Homesteading is no easy task. At the same time, it is a style that has no substitute once you get used to it. 

The Age of Information

Our generation is blessed with information at our fingertips, I mean, literally. Today a shepherd boy living in a remote African village has more information on his smartphone than was available only to the President of the United States at a certain age. My point is that the film ‘Blast from the past’ could not be conceived today nor would Ole put on two jackets to paint the barn. Homesteading is fine for people who live on “land,” but what about the inhabitants of apartments? 

The Homesteading Lifestyle

What happens in a homestead that is independent of the outside society? The inhabitants have the necessities within the confines of their boundaries for a decent existence. Let us have a look at the methods used by homesteaders to live. First we need to define the term in simple language.

An individual, a family, or a whole society can live within the set geographical limits of a designated area. We are talking about homesteading in an apartment, so let us focus on an individual or a small family. 

Definition of Homesteading in an Apartment

A single-family existing within the household compound of an apartment building to live, work, and earn can be defined as homesteading. 

This layman’s definition will give rise to a lot of questions which we shall be attempting in the content that follows. 

OK, let us now get on with living our dream life homesteading in our apartments.

A Farm Inside the Apartment

I will begin by growing my food and advance on to sophisticated produce along the way. Start small by growing your salad bowl.

i. Get hold of enough grow bags or containers. Search the net for required sizes and DIY ideas.

ii. Prepare the soil by using proper potting mix.

iii. Tomato is a good option- cherry tomato would be my suggestion. 

iv. Other plants for our salad bowl should be lettuce and basil plants. 

v. Take care of the plants with good nursing practices. Place them on the balcony where there is enough sun.

vi. Carrots can be grown inside car battery covers in the interior of the apartment.

vii. You can make organic fertilizer at home. 

You are now the proud owner of an organic farm. 

Tip: Grow lights can substitute for the sun.

Other Items I Can Grow

Once you get the hang of interior farming, we can move on to other crops. 

Strawberries: They can be grown in containers or grow bags, but need a hydroponic watering system. We will discuss that later. 

Herbs: Mints, lavender, and rosemary are good choices. They will come in handy to prepare a good cup of hot tea. They can also be used to make soaps and oils. Herbs will add flavor to many dishes. 

Micro Greens: With some quality seeds you can begin. The first harvest will provide seeds for the next. 

Sprouts: With a jar and some cheesecloth or mess top we can grow our sprouts for a stir fry or sandwich. 

A Hydroponic System

Even if you are growing food using containers and potting soil, a hydroponic system will let you increase the quantity. It avoids a lot of mess as it advocates a system of soilless farming. They come in compact designs or vertical configurations. 

They can be bought or constructed by learning the numerous DIY strategies available online. 

Manufacture Manure at Home

Organic fertilizer can be made at home by the clever utilization of food waste. Get a container with a good lid. Put some gravel and soil at the bottom. Introduce worms for worm composting. Empty all bio-degradable garbage into the container. You will get enough environment-friendly fertilizer for the farm. This method frees you from the chore of taking out the garbage. 

Tip: Do not expose the manure cans to sunlight. It can cook worms. 

Grow Mushrooms

Did you know mushrooms are grown only indoors for industrial farming? Get an edible mushroom kit to begin your first batch in a dark corner of your apartment. 

Meat On The Table

Did you wonder for a moment what crazy idea I was going to put forth? Quails!

They are very silent birds that need only very little space. They give a lot of eggs and quail meat is way above chicken, beef, and pork in its health advantages. Quails being small birds, need only a little feed, and kitchen scraps go well with them. 

Mini Solar Power House

Did you know solar panels don’t require direct sunlight? They need good lighting and it is advised to install the panels at a good spot on the patio or balcony. 

Depending upon the capacity of the panels, you can increase the number of appliances that run on solar power. They can be used for grow lights and also for pumps used in the hydroponic system. 

A Self-Reliant Life

Once we have become self-sufficient in food matters, we can think about cutting out other purchases. This will also involve income creation. Do your homework to get as many DIY ideas as possible. We can begin the process by gaining ideas by:

i. Visiting other homesteaders or communes.

ii. Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture.

iii. Visiting farmer’s markets.

We can enrich our homesteading experience within the confines of an apartment by progressing on to a more autonomous lifestyle by integrating the following activities:

i. Do own baking for bread and other items.

ii. Learn and engage in carpentry.

iii. Do your own electric and plumbing jobs.

iv. Learn to stitch to make your garments (trust me, it is far easier than you believed.)

Before Going Shopping

Whenever the need to buy something comes up, take a few moments to ponder whether it is something you can create using your potential. Not only will you be learning a new skill, but also it may help you earn. Remember, the Wright brothers had never flown an airplane till they became the first humans to become airborne on a machine. 

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Why Does the Black Plague Keep Coming Back?

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Black Plague
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Prepper News Weekly, Friday, April 6, 2018

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Prepper News Weekly, Friday, April 6, 2018

 

A big, busy, crazy week in prepper land! Spring has sprung and it has sprung forth all manner of issues to keep us on our toes. Here’s a review of the bigger stories bearing down on preppers and freedom lovers. Please enjoy (and subscribe!):

 

Video by Perrin Lovett/FPTV/YouTube.

 

Perrin recently learned that something called “airplane mode” stops incoming debt collection calls and hate texts from interrupting our recordings! Will wonders never cease?

 

 

Quality will improve immediately…

 

In the news:

 

The Caravan

 

Mass migration

 

Troops out of Syria, to Rio Grande?

 

More Snow?!

 

YouTube shooting

 

China and tariffs

 

UK/US/Russia

 

Mueller

 

 

And, we’re in full swing at The Masters!

 

Thank you, as always. Don’t forget to check www.freedompreppernews.com every day for all the stories that affect preppers, survivalists, and the rest of the sanity crowd. Well, check it now – rumor has it the news will soon be incorporated into the new, new revised and improved FP.com. Stay tuned.

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Perrin​​ ​​Lovett​​​ ​​​writes​​ ​​about​​ ​​freedom,​​ ​​firearms,​​ ​​and​​ ​​cigars​​ ​​(and​​ ​​everything​​ ​​else)​​ ​​at www.perrinlovett.me​​.​​ ​​He​​ ​​is​​ ​​none​​ ​​too​​ ​​fond​​ ​​of​​ ​​government​​ ​​meddling.

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