Growing potatoes in straw round bales

Not quite what I had expected

In a garden update post from this spring I had mentioned sprouting potatoes in my storage. I had planted these in straw bales which I use as a wind protection. Here is a picture from this spring.

The potatoes in the straw bales seemed to do well despite the heat and the drought. The plants where nice and green, unlike many other plants turning yellow. Such decomposing straw bales do keep moisture in well.

Unfortunately some straw bales fell to the side and the rainwater just run to the ground without soaking into the soil for the potatoes. These 2 straw bales did not give many potatoes and they where very small.

Some of the straw bales fell in itself and if there would be any potatoes to harvest I was not be able to reach them.

In one of the straw bales I found around 30 pieces of larva of a cock chafer very compact together. I searched and hope I found all. This straw bale did not give much yield as well.

One straw bale was partially hidden underneath a tree and had protection from the burning sun most of the day. This I noticed in the yield from this straw bale. This was a lot more then in the other straw bales. This straw bale gave about 3,5 kg. In comparison the other 4 straw bales, I was able to harvest, also gave around 3,5 kg. So growing in the straw bales this way does not give me the advantage I hoped for in times of heat and drought. The straw keeps moisture in, but the plants do not really root into the straw. Therefore the moisture is not really available for the plants. (Of course this was a small scale experiment with very lose boundaries)

The straw bales have decomposed so much by now that we removed the netting around them and have a somewhat messy pile of straw left. We will leave it over winter like this and see how much it will decompose further. I hope in spring it will be ready for us to grow food in it. For now the pile of straw is still a wind protection for the hill beds beside it.

Author: beautifulchaosorg

Hi, I am Carolien and I am a Dutch woman trying to build a self sufficient homestead on concrete and rubble. Follow my husband and me on YouTube:

3 thoughts on “Growing potatoes in straw round bales”

  1. This was a very interesting experiment, thank you for sharing. I think it’s really important that we try these things, who knows how we will need to adapt our growing approaches in the face of climate change? Next year, I’m planning to grow a small patch of potatoes on cardboard and covered with a deep layer of hay, cutting a cross in the cardboard for each potato to sit on so that the plant can put a root down into the earth. I’m looking forward to comparing the growth and yield with those planted in a conventional bed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, that is a very good idea. As you point out soil contact is very important for the potato, but there should also be plenty of nutrients in the soil. I have noticed that the potatoes stay ratter small otherwise. And I would like to advice to make sure that the hay is nice and loose, so it will not become a roof that leads the rain away from the potato plants. We have made that experience. The layer of hay should be at least 20 cm thick to keep the weed pressure down. Good luck and please share your results. I am very curious on how your experiment will do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your advice, we had problems with mulch keeping the ground round our potatoes too dry this summer so I need to be aware of how much rain is getting to the plants – hoping we have rather more rain next summer, of course!

        Liked by 1 person

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