You say potato, I say Kartoffel

I rescued a broken rain barrel (with a crack at the bottom) from my mother’s compulsive need to discard everything — a compulsion, btw, that is the exact opposite of that of my paternal step-grandfather, who needed to save everything because it surely would come in handy one of these days (and it usually did, he was very popular around our neighbourhood — keep in mind that in East Germany, you usually couldn’t just go to a store to buy what you needed). In this family, we don’t do things by halves. But I digress.

I rescued the rain barrel because I thought it would be perfect for a particular someday-maybe project of mine. I have lots of those, including keeping chickens (as my grandmother once did on this very property), which, for the time being, is being met with resistance from the husband. I don’t want to eat the chickens, of course, and not even necessarily the eggs (I haven’t eaten eggs in the past 13 months), I just really like chickens. But I digress again. (Note to self: Albet i Noya’s yummy tempranillo may be vegan but it does contain alcohol.)

Where were we? Right, the rain barrel. The idea was to try and grow potatoes as described here. To make it more fun, I wanted to use a heritage variety but since I was late getting started, the selection was very limited. I eventually settled on a kind called Reichskanzler (with a name like that, you know it wasn’t cooked up in a Monsanto lab recently).

In addition to the crack that was already at the bottom, I had the husband drill a few more holes into the bottom of the barrel and also put the barrel on a couple of bricks we had lying around for better drainage. The bottom of the barrel was filled with dried leaves from our birch and a bit of soil from the compost. I put the potatoes into the rain barrel on May 17th:photo1First signs of life on May 28th:


May 31st:


June 4th:


photoI’ve now covered about half of this growth with additional soil from the compost and will keep doing so over the summer. The idea is that the plants will grow a new layer of potatoes in each layer of soil. We’ll see if that works — I’ll report back.

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3 Responses to You say potato, I say Kartoffel

  1. Trifocal says:

    In the 1950s we lived in a big industrial city, where my mother kept chickens in the back garden. But keeping animals was not that unusual then; the man next door reared pigs 🙂
    Look forward to hearing how the potato growing goes. Intrigued too by the tasteful turquoise background the barrel has- what might that be, I wonder?

  2. As I said, my grandmother used to have chickens here (admittedly, the property was twice as big then; it got split between my dad and my uncle, and my aunt sold her half after my uncle died). When they were boys, my dad and my uncle once had a fight in the kitchen during which the glass panel in one of the kitchen cabinets broke. Incredibly, they managed to convince their mother that one of the chickens had come in and picked at the panel!

    The turquoise is the barrel itself — it’s kind of greenish but looks turquoise in one of the photos.

  3. Lisa G. says:

    Way cool! 😉

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