I've accidentally grown potatoes in my compost pile previously.
Therefore, I don't know why this could not be done on a larger scale.
What I did was sheet compost an area of my front yard that was compacted
clay and did not drain. The area also had some kind of fungus that
prohibited grass from growing.
I dug out a large area into which I place sticks and small branches to
provide drainage; leaves and grass clippings; soil; twigs; leaves and
vegetable wastes; blood and bone meal. I covered the area with the soil
I had previously dug out and watered it. About a month or two later, I
had potatoes growing from the vegetable waste layer that were large and
I guess it occurred because I was learning about composting and had not
turned the pile. Perhaps, the experts on the list can clarify what
occurred. But, I did have an unexpected crop of potatoes.
The area now drains and contains organic matter and earth worms, which
were not present before I sheet composted. Anything that is planted
grows there, as the soil conditions are no longer poor.
On Fri, 24 Apr 1998, KathiSueC wrote:
> I have a dilemna of which I hope some of you will be willing and able to help
> me with. I am farm managing an urban youth farm in San Francisco, a job I've
> just begun 3 weeks ago. I've been given the charge of growing a third of an
> acre of potatoes and they're on their way. The soil conditions are
> abysmal...the field has not been cover cropped in several years, and it has
> been kept well-weeded all winter...bare soil...heavy rain...very clayey soil.
> And it has also been worked up while saturated, although it's been by hand
> (fork, shovel, pick ax, etc). I realize this is not an ideal place or
> conditons in which to grow potatoes but that's not negotiable.
> As the soil dries down you may imagine the situation...dried cement-like clods
> on the surface and wet mucky clay beneath. The good news is that there's a lot
> of macroorganisms at work and there's been some compost applied over the years
> but the soil and fertility management has been relatively lacking. I've been
> working with the teens to loosen the edges of the beds, hesitant to work the
> soil too much but needing to let a little air below the surface. I am not
> going to get the tilth I want for potatoes this year and maybe not for several
> but I'm looking for suggestions as to other ways to deal with my potato
> situation now.
> My plan is to apply compost heavily, add some gypsum for loosening clayey
> soils and lightly fork it in to the top 4" of our beds, make a shallow
> planting trench of 4", dribble a bit of soil sulfur for scab (big problem
> here), cover with compost, lay drip tape and mulch heavily with straw. Will
> this work? Do you have any other suggestions?
> Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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