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A Better Mouse Trap?

     Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door.”  However, if the Garden’s potato experiments are any indication, maybe those tried and true methods for growing potatoes really do work the best.  Perhaps sometimes there really isn’t a better mouse trap, but it’s still fun to experiment.

The Garden’s January 25, 2013 blog “One Potato, Two Potato, Hopefully More”  described several different methods of growing potatoes, including the old time “trench” method, last year’s “trash can” method, and this year’s “potato bin” method.  Guess which method produced the most and largest potatoes?  Yes, it was the trench method used by generations of farmers to grow potatoes.

As you can see by the pictures, the potatoes grown in trenches in the Garden’s raised bed were larger and many more were harvested.

Our Potatoes Grown Trench Style

The potatoes grown in this year’s newly constructive bin where slats could be added to the side of the bin and filled with soil as the potato plants grew, did well, but produced smaller and fewer potatoes than those grown in trenches.

Smaller and Fewer Potatoes

One reason for this, DCMG Jim Dempsey hypothesized, might have been that the potatoes grown in the raised beds in trenches were on a drip system, while those in the slatted bin received water only once a week.

Never one to give up easily (and who knows, someone may really invent a better mouse trap), Jim said that next year the slatted bin will be moved to a place where it too can be on the drip system and receive more water. The experiment continues………

Do you have your own methods for growing potatoes?  And how did your potatoes do this year?  Let us know.  We would love to hear from you.


Pictures by Starla

About Dallas Garden Buzz

Dallas County Master Gardeners growing and sharing from The Raincatcher's Garden.

2 responses »

  1. I haven’t tried regular potatoes yet. I have sweet potatoes growing for the first time this year. I’ve looked at growing regular potatoes, but missed the timing this year. I really like the IDEA of the bin method, but maybe I should carve out some room in the regular garden bed.

    • I would say: if you have room, try both methods and see what works best for you. Part of the fun in gardening is experimenting. Plus, since every year growing conditions are just a little different, it’s hard to know what method may work the best.

      Let us know how your sweet potatoes do. I don’t think that the Demonstration Garden has ever grown sweet potatoes, but they are grown at some of the community gardens around Dallas. Did you know that the tips of the sweet potato vine can be eaten and are used in cooking by the Asian community? Here’s a recipe from the East Dallas Garden and Market (Asian Garden) that uses the tips of the sweet potato vine:


      In Asia not only the sweet potato is eaten but also the vine is prepared like a green. Cut off an 18-inch length of vine. All of the leaves can be used (cut up the larger ones); however use only the tender stems. Cut the leaves and tender stems into bite size pieces. Keep the leaves separate from the stems.

      15-20 sweet potato vine stems, use all the leaves but only the
      tender stem near the tip of the vine.
      1 medium onion, sliced
      3 cloves garlic, chopped
      1 jalapeno, chopped and seeds removed
      1 bell, banana or Spanish pepper, chopped bite size
      2 tbsp. chicken base
      1-2 tbsp. oil

      Stir-fry garlic, onion and pepper in oil for about 3 minutes. Add chicken base and ¼ cup water. Add sweet potato vine stem. Cook another 3 minutes. Add sweet potato vine leaves. Stir fry until tender. Serve over cooked rice.

      This recipe can be prepared using other greens.


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