One of the blogs I follow, and I wish I could remember which one, had a cool idea for maximizing potato yields in small spaces. She built round bins of wire, filled them with alternating layers of compost and straw, and planted potatoes in the compost. This would allow for four or five layers of potatoes in each bin. That reminded me of a couple of things.
The first was our compost bin, which happens to be round and made of left over 4 foot wire fencing. We’d put off turning it until we could find some pallets to make a new bin. After an entire spring during which I nagged my husband long-distance while he assured me that pallets were “everywhere,” he finally decided that it was time to turn the compost, at which point, pallets were nowhere to be found. Go figure. So we have a good-sized bin of cold, half-finished compost.
The other was my first compost bin, a pit, really, in my mother’s back yard. She lived on St Simon’s Island, Georgia, essentially a large sandbar barely above sea level. Rather than building a bin, I just dug a hole in the sand, and following the instructions in Peacock Manure and Marigolds acquired a bag of cocoa bean hulls and started layering them with kitchen scraps. (The lawn was so pathetic that grass clippings were not an option. I’m not even sure that we bothered to mow it.)
Mom, as usual, thought I was nuts, “on drugs,” or led astray yet again by “your little friends.”
Until the potato sprouted. It was a sweet potato, gone funky in the veggie drawer. I tossed it into the heap, expecting the bacteria to have its way with the poor thing.
Instead it grew luxuriously, producing the best sweet potatoes Mom had ever eaten.
Another day, another convert.
So there we were when my fellow blogger reminded me what to do with that bin. I planted 14 Yukon Gold potatoes around the edge, covering them with garden soil. It’s not the multi-layered maximized use of garden space of the original, but it is a way to turn non-garden into growing space. It seems to be working, as you can see from the photo below. I’ll keep you posted.