Friday, September 3, 2010

Strange Place to Grow Potatoes

Potatoes growing at the back of my root cellar, on a concrete floor

I store potatoes over winters in layers of straw on shelves in my root cellar building. The first spring thaw this year flooded the root cellar where a water pipe had frozen and burst during a really cold spell. Well, the concrete floor in the back had some loose straw that got saturated, but I didn't remember there were any potatoes stored there, so it stayed in the corner while I threw away all the soggy cardboard boxes and trash.

Early this summer I was inside that building looking for something, and noticed potato plants emerging from the straw. After that, I left the door open for whatever possible bit of light to penetrate as far as possible, and the plants continued to grow even though 7-8 feet from the open door! There is always some moisture along the floor, where hydrostatic pressure from the hillside has breached the buried rear block wall, so the potatoes were in somewhat damp straw.

Yesterday I was cleaning out there so I can store my winter veggies, and decided to turn the straw and see what, if anything, grew. Imagine my surprise to find several large potatoes and a bunch of nubbins. They will get 'cured' for a few days, and re-buried in clean straw on a shelf. Potatoes are not on my diet right now, but they will be good for seed 'taters next spring!

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