Garden: Growing Potatoes in the Desert

Garden: Can you grow potatoes in the desert?Gardening in Tucson is not an easy task. The summers are intensely hot and other than a brief reprieve during monsoon season, in July-August, it is ridiculously dry. I've pretty much given up on the idea of growing summer vegetables. I've watched my plants wither and die too many times.

The last few years, I have had more luck with winter veggies like lettuce, chard, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and snow peas. I plant seedlings in early November and we eat fresh salad greens through early-mid February.

When the spring temperatures start warming, the lettuce bolts and I clean out my garden, toss the remaining plants in the compost bin and let the soil rest until November. Until this year...

When I was getting ready to clean out the garden, I found a nice little surprise in the compost bin, potatoes that had sprouted. I asked my friend Anne, from Anne of Green Gardens, if these plants could be productive and make more potatoes if I transplanted them into my garden. She seemed to think they would, so I carefully removed them from the compost.
I was pretty shocked that there were already little potatoes growing around the roots. Nature is awesome!
Off to the garden with my pretty, new potatoes.
Even thought it only had a few small sprouts, I decided to plant this yam that was sprouting in the compost bin as well.
After they were planted, I gave all the potatoes a little drink and things looked good for a couple days. Then, all the vines shriveled up. (I was too depressed to take pictures of that part.) I didn't give up, though. I kept watering my garden every couple days and before I knew it, more vines started popping up.

Potatoes from the compost bin It's still a little too early to see what magic is happening underground, but I'm hopeful that I'll be eating some home grown potatoes in a few months.
Sweet potatoes from the compost bin Maybe even some yams!

If my little potato growing experiment is successful this year, I may put a little more thought and effort into potato growing next year because potatoes are, quite possibly, one of my favorite veggies.
Who knew that you can grow potatoes in the desert?

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The Chilly Dog: Garden: Growing Potatoes in the Desert
Garden: Growing Potatoes in the Desert
Growing potatoes and yams in the desert.
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