April 25, 2019
One of the ways we reuse products on the farm is by planting potatoes in feed bags. I first did this a few years ago and have planted our potatoes this way every year since! By planting potatoes in feed bags, not only are you reusing a waste product, you are saving yourself a ton of work! No more digging trenches, hilling your soil, and digging up your buried potatoes at the end of the season. Simply dump out the bag and collect your home grown potatoes!
For this you will want to use poly feed bags since they are the most durable. I start by shaking out any left over feed and tearing off the paper feed tags. Then I fold down the top of the bag halfway.
Start filling up your feed bag and shape it to sit flat after the first few shovel fulls. I filled my potato bags with the oldest aged manure at the back of our compost pile. Then I moved the bags in the wheelbarrow to the long side of the chicken coop run.
I decided to put the potato bags behind the chicken coop for a few reasons. First, while practical, the feed bags aren’t the most beautiful thing in the garden, so having them back behind the chicken run keeps them in a good full sun location but out of our main garden view. Second, the extra dirt and weight adds another layer of ground protection against predators digging under even though we also have welded wire skirted around the bottom of the run. Third, I want to expand the garden bed on the side of the run anyway, so at the end of the season I will just dump these bags out in place, adding more soil to this garden area.
Once you have your feed bags filled and in place, it’s time to plant the potatoes. This year I have Blue (because they’re so pretty!), Red Norland, Yukon Gold, and some red potatoes that started growing on the kitchen counter because we didn’t use them fast enough. I bought my seed potatoes at Tractor Supply this year.
I am no expert at planting potatoes despite my grandmother’s German potato farming heritage! As with most things, I wing it and then take notes to hopefully improve the next time. I planted four seed potatoes in each bag, burying them a few inches below the surface of the compost. Some of the really long shoots are already sticking up out of the bags.
As these grow leaves and get taller, you can unroll the bag and add more compost or soil to encourage the seed potatoes to grow deeper and produce more potatoes. Here is a photo of the first year I grew potatoes in feed bags to see what they look like with leaves.
When it is time to harvest your potatoes, all you have to do is dump out your bags! You can dump the fill right back into your garden or compost pile. Once you experience how easy it is to harvest your potatoes by planting them in feed bags, you’ll never go back to the traditional potato trenches!
Have you ever tried planting in feed bags? If not, give it a shot this year!