Tater risk assessment
April 17, 2017 7:11 AM   Subscribe

I've got a complicated question about whether to grow store-bought potatoes in a bag or in the garden. Dig around a little, there's more inside.

I have a garden space and I want to grow potatoes. It is impossible to find anything but your basic russets as seed potatoes where I live, so I bought a small bag of purple potatoes at the grocery store to see if they would sprout. After a couple of weeks in a sunny window they've shown signs of life, so I am ready to put them in the dirt. Here are my options:

1. Plant them in bags on my south-facing balcony. This was my original idea, because I don't want to introduce any diseases they may be carrying into the garden. If they turn out to be infected I can just toss the plants, no damage done to my precious tomatoes.

2. Plant them directly in the ground in my garden. After reading a bit I don't think I'd be running much risk of potato blight, because I live in central Spain which has a summer climate similar to southern California. Extremely dry, with some rain but almost never two days in a row. I don't think we ever have a Smith period in potato-planting season.

3. Split the difference and plant them in bags but leave the bags in the garden. This saves me precious space on my balconies and in the garden beds, but they are still in proximity to the rest of my plants and may be able to spread disease anyway.

I don't know how to assess my risk here. Does my dry climate preclude me from getting the diseases that plague places like Ireland? Am I still running too much of a risk putting them in the ground or even in the same city block as my tomatoes? What would you do in my situation?

NB: I know how gardeners can be, please don't question my decision to plant store-bought tubers in the first place.
posted by lollymccatburglar to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not a tater expert, but in a Mediterranean climate with few/no Smith periods I wouldn't be very concerned with blight, and would put them wherever is most convenient.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:53 AM on April 17

I agree with SaltySalticid.

As an aside, I plant my potatoes in old tyres which I stack as the plants grow. Makes it wicked easy to harvest.
posted by terrapin at 8:06 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]

I'll nth everyone else here. I don't think you would have a big problem especially given your weather. I have relatives in Northern Ireland and they grow potatoes in their back garden and all they plant are store bought ones. They've never had a problem other than slugs. I've always planted seed potatoes on the allotment, but my plot was surrounded by another plat where the guy only planted potatoes. He didn't do any crop rotation at all just would get like 400 kilo's of potatoes a year (probably to make Poteen). I didn't have any problem with potatoes, but my tomatoes would get blight (but only in September when they would always get blight in the UK).
posted by koolkat at 5:10 AM on April 18

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