Of Potatoes and Bookcases

What do potatoes and bookcases have in common?

I just love this sweet potato print by Elise Towle Snow of Argyle Whale.

Back to the riddle…

Well as far as I know not much but bookcases can make a great place to plant potatoes.  Traditionally, potatoes are grown in home gardens in mounds.  Mounds can take up quite a bit of space and can be a bit unwieldy. Potatoes can also be grown in old tires but concerns about chemicals leaching into the soil I am growing in worry me.

Then it hit me, I had an older bookcase that would serve has a great place to grow potatoes!

All you need is a bookcase with selves spaced fairly far apart, soil, and seed potatoes. If  you are reusing a bookshelf that has paint or stain that maybe be unsafe make sure to paint a few coats of safe paint over the old paint to prevent the old paint from potentially leaching chemicals into your soil.

It is a bit late to be planting potatoes but with all the rain this is one of the first times it has been dry enough to get out in the garden. Gardeners up north can still get in on the potato fun and those in the south you have time to scope out yard sales and thrift shops to find the perfect bookcase and get it prepped.

First, lay your bookcase down on it’s side and add a bit of compost or soil to the bottom- about 2-3 inches.

This is what the space between the shelves will look like.  If you shelves are super deep add a bit more soil so that your potatoes will be a bit closer to the top of the bookcase and won’t be to shaded.

Now you need a prepared seed potato.  I cut mine in half leaving plenty of potato and two started eyes. You can cut your potato in half a few days before you plant them to give the cut side a bit of time to dry to reduce the chance of rotting.

Set your seed potato in the soil cut side down.  The compartments in my book shelf are big enough that I put on seed potato on each side.

See this is how I did it…

Then add just enough soil to cover all by the very tippy tops of the potato sprouts.

As your plants begin to grow they will look like the one below.  This potato plant  is a volunteer from a potato I accidentally left in the soil from last years harvest.

As the plant continues to grown keep adding more soil,  covering all of the plant and surrounding area with soil.  Just leave 2 or so inches of leaf above the soil line.  I keep mounds my plants until the soil is about 1 inch from the top of the compartment. As an added bonus many potato plants have beautiful flowers and lovely foliage.

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  1. Posted May 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Oh my goodness! What a brilliant idea!

  2. Posted May 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Great use of old bookcases there (I almost said thinking outside the box – groan)
    We are always looking for alternative planters, but our potatoes are all in now.
    Dropping by from Magic Onions.

  3. Posted May 20, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    What an incredibly genius idea! I’ve been looking for alternative planting ideas since we live in a rental now. I may just have to make a trip to the Salvation Army store tomorrow & see if I can’t find an inexpensive old bookcase… xo

  4. Erin
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Have fun thrifting!!! A bookcase would work really well for other plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants. Have fun!

  5. Posted May 20, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    A great use of space, cheers Marie

  6. Posted May 21, 2011 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    What a great idea! I’ve also heard of growing potatoes in hay. I’ve always wanted to try it.

  7. Erin
    Posted May 21, 2011 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    I have heard of using hay as well but I just don’t know if I could keep the kids out of it! I’m pretty sure it would be strewn from one side of the yard to the other (and tracked all over the house).

  8. Posted May 21, 2011 at 1:51 am | Permalink

    repeating others, but brilliant! now i need to go thrifting for some bookcases…

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  1. By {this moment} barefoot, finally on May 13, 2011 at 11:37 am

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