I’m planting potatoes!

I’m finally doing it and I’m excited! 

Background: I got my suburban house 3 years ago (inherited from my mom) and aside from small foundation beds in the front, it was all lawn, a blank slate.  Now, I am famously indecisive when presented with a blank slate. I love having people over and I adore flowers, so I wanted ornamentals for my backyard paradise. But as a (low-key) prepper, obviously I want to think about growing food. However, the amount of sun in my yard is marginal for food production, with only a few areas potentially suitable. What to do?

I started one bed at a time, refurbishing the flower beds in the front and starting with a small shade garden with rhododendrons, ferns and hostas in the back. A few tomatoes and cucumbers in pots on the deck. An herb patch we just kind of scratched out of the ground. We got fig trees in containers last year, and expanded the shade garden – it’s gorgeous! The vision started coming together and this spring we replaced the herb patch with an actual raised bed, and just yesterday built another raised bed just below it where we are going to plant potatoes today!! (A little late but the folks at Agway said we’d be fine)

Why potatoes when we don’t even have a real vegetable garden yet? A few reasons. The area only gets about 5 hours of sun, and potatoes are supposed to be among the more shade tolerant veggies. Plus, if we ever really needed our garden for survival or supplementation during lean times, I’d like experience producing a crop that can provide storable calories. 

Anyway, the seed potatoes are cut and curing right now and will be in the ground by the end of the day. Wish me luck!


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  • Comments (10)

    • 2

      Best of luck! Good job learning and planning what to do. 

      Your topic sparks another question that I’d like to ask the forum, what multi-purpose plants can we grow in a front yard or other visible space that isn’t an eyesore or will make the HOA mad? Flowers are nice, but if we could grow a vegetable or herb in it’s place that can be eaten or have medicinal purposes, then that would be even better right?

      • 2

        I’ve been thinking about that! Our front yard is a bit sunnier and I’m thinking a dwarf or semi dwarf fruit tree might be both pretty and edible. You can also interplant herbs with ornamentals. Chives, thyme and lavender are very attractive. You can sneak in some strawberries in the ground or in pots. Blueberry bushes can be lovely but you may have to cage them to keep the birds out. Citrus is beautiful in areas where you can grow them. Many people like Jerusalem artichokes which have nice flowers, grow like weeds and have edible tubers – but many have trouble digesting them. 

      • 4

        Olly, I suggest my top survival crop… amaranth.  I just started some in some pots & will transplant into a small spot in the garden later.  I’m trying out Copperhead this year.


        Amaranth comes in all sorts of seed colors.  I’ve linked an article where a college is using amaranth in their flower beds.

        Growing Ancient Grains in the City | Growhampton


      • 1

        Those amaranth plants look like they would make a good decorative dividing wall between property lines.

    • 3

      Congrats on the new garden:)

      As a compromise between flowers and veggies, you might try growing things like:

      – Nasturtiums (showy flowers in a wide variety of colors, plus spicy crunchy leaves that are great on sandwiches or bagels.)

      – Scarlet or sunset runner beans (showy orchid-like flowers are followed by edible beans that can be eaten at either the greenbean or shellbean stage.)

      – Decorative kale (the bright purple leaves form a flower-like rosette, but can later be eaten.)

      – And finally, you do know hostas are grown as a vegetable in some countries, right?  They aren’t my favorite, but if picked very young they aren’t too bad.

    • 3

      Congrats on the potatoes.  I used to grow them & they produced very heavy crops with little input from me.  Worst part is digging them up.  That can be back breaking labor and that stopped me from growing them.  Sweet potatoes do even better down here.  I got almost a bushel from just one plant.

      I vowed next time I grew potatoes, they wouldn’t be in my garden.  I’d plant them in an area where I could use the middle buster plow on the tractor to get them out of the ground.

      • 3

        I’ve grown potatoes in a couple of raised beds for years. Redneck, hats off to him, probably planted way more than me but I’ve found the best way to harvest them in to spend an afternoon getting in about them with my hands! 

        Be warned though July, if you don’t get them all out you’ll have an extra crop next year 😉

    • 3

      POTATO UPDATE!!! We harvested our first potatoes and they are amaaaaaaazing!! We had our first ones sliced, pan-fried and served with sour cream, sprinkled with chives from the garden. Sooooo good!

      Some stats:

      we planted Lehigh Gold, a late variety, mid-May 

      we planted 10 seed potatoes in a raised bed, hilled them and mulched with straw. The area is borderline full sun, 5-6 hours.

      Now it’s mid-August and they stopped flowering a couple weeks ago

      We dug up one plant (the smallest) and got 6 potatoes weighing a total of 3 pounds. They are still “new” (fragile skins)  but they seem full size! We had been tempted to let them all mature fully so we could get the maximum yield, but we don’t have a root cellar, so in the end thought it more practical to start digging them now, a few pounds at a time.

      anyway, we laughed like kids when we dug up our treasure, and are extremely pleased with ourselves! So much fun and well worth the effort!

      • 2

        Congratulations, July! That’s terrific.

      • 2

        That’s awesome July! Digging potatoes a bit at a time is great, it transforms what would be a tiring chore into a treasure hunt.😄 You must not have pocket gophers there, those little b*****ds love to chomp the lower half of the tuber on each one, especially on sweet potatoes. Really ruins the fun of digging when you haul up a great specimen with its bottom gone…