Alternative ways to raise vegetables

This summer is a trial of sorts for our family when it comes to finding alternative ways to raise vegetables. We are trying the vegetable bags that have been available for a couple of years in area stores. These bags are made up of a heavy Tyvek material and have a small Velcro door toward the bottom of the bag. This is so you can harvest potatoes (sweet or regular) from the bottom while keeping the plant alive and growing well. This year we decided to try one tomato plant and one potato plant to see how it works.

The tomato plant is a celebrity, which was chosen because they only get so big, are resistant to many diseases and the tomatoes are about the right size for BLT sandwiches. At this point, we were able to plant the tomato at the end of May while our typical vegetable garden was still inaccessible due to wet weather. The tomato plant currently holds 12 tomatoes and it is still flowering.

The potato bag has one single, large seed potato in the bag. The variety we chose for this one is russet potatoes. This variety is easy to grow and we hoped for a first batch of small potatoes for brown butter potatoes right around the 4th of July. The little door on the bottom allows the grower to pick potatoes while leaving the plant undisturbed. As the plant grows, we just keep adding in soil a little at a time so that the potato plant keeps growing out roots. Of course, from the roots is where the new potatoes come from. Imagine not having to dig these potatoes and when the plant finally dies back in the fall, all a gardener has to do is to dump it out on the ground.

These types of systems work well for those who are pushed for not only space in their home but also time. There is very little that needs to be done except making sure that they receive enough water and occasionally fertilize them. There are other alternatives too. I have seen more and more temporary raised beds that gardeners can move with them if the gardener moves to a different home or if a gardener decides that the raise bed doesn’t work in a particular place it is easy to move to another spot in the yard too.

It is hard to say what will happen with our weather. I believe that we all can easily say that it is out of our hands. If we are in a cycle of wetter weather, a raised bed or using some other alternative form to raise vegetable gardens may be the ticket to help us have our own garden fresh food. The great thing about raised gardens is that most vegetables can be raised without question in them. The garden sacks can also be rather handy but it remains to be seen what kind of yield we receive with just one potato. I will keep you in the loop once we start to harvest from the bags.

For more information on gardening or how you can become a Master Gardener, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com

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