KubotaoftheOzarks

Dig this: Save time, effort by growing your spuds in straw bales

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A straw bale garden at the home of Rebecca Landsdown was her first and bountiful vegetable garden.

If you love eating homegrown potatoes but do not want to dig and weed to get them, try growing them in straw.

“Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetable crops there is to grow,” says Dr. Clydette Alsup-Egbers, associate professor of environmental plant science at Missouri State University. “When you grow a potato in straw, you have a cleaner potato and you don’t have to dig to harvest. Plus, usually you have much fewer weeds.”

When growing this way, the straw is usually placed on the ground.

  • Follow these steps
  • Test soil to see if you need fertilizer and check soil temperature for ideal time to plant.
  • Put potatoes in a bag with some sulfur, shake it up and leave it for a few days.
  • Put treated potatoes 12-18 inches apart on a layer of straw on the ground and pile more straw on them.
  • When shoots appear and grow to about 4-6 inches tall, pile more straw around them. Repeat this step several times.
  • Water as needed.
  • Wait two to four months. When the foliage dies, the potatoes are ready for harvest.

Besides growing on the ground, potatoes can also be grown in large bins or straw bales.

“Be sure not to grow potatoes bought from the grocery store,” said Alsup-Egbers. “They’ve been treated with a growth inhibitor chemical and sometimes they have disease organisms on them. So buy them from a garden center.”

For more information, contact Alsup-Egbers at 417-836-5095.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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