Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Potato tyre stacks - part 2

Attempt #2, Penny scratching around
Back in June (winter) I attempted my potato tyre stacks for all the reasons in our original post.  At first things went well, but alas after a period of rain the plants seemed to die off. The tyre stacks were on some concrete, and I assumed that they had become waterlogged and had rotted the tubers.   Moving the stacks slightly to allow drainage didn't seem to help - it seems I was too late.  Meanwhile my neighbours' potatoes dug into the ground seemed really healthy, so the whole experiment seemed to be a failure.  Key learning here - get your drainage right if you're in a high rainfall area!

It's the start of spring here, and everything's coming to life, including a few potato plants from tubers I'd planted in the grounds last season. The fruit tree area is probably going to have a chicken under story at some point, so while chicken manure is great, I'm not sure I want too much concentration in the potatoes in case of pathogens.  So with healthy plants establishing, and it being the right time of year, it's time to do the experiment again.
Not much of a yield, but not a complete failure.

So reusing the tyres from the last stack, I've put these around one potato plant with the aim to stack it about 5 tyres high over the growing season.  In theory the whole stack should fill with spuds, including some under the ground and the soil should be really healthy in the stack without any pathogens.

When grabbing the old tyres, I found a whole bunch of tiny new potatoes, so it seemed the original attempt didn't fail after all, and with patience we might have got there in the end.  We've dug these in elsewhere in the garden so they might surprise us at some point in the future.

Interestingly enough, also in the old stack were the fattest worms we've seen at our place - about twice the size, which is telling us that the little micro-ecosystem in the stacks is very healthy indeed.   Good to know.

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