Tuesday, May 8, 2012

And the sack race winner is...

My 4 year old daughter. Back in October we held a family sack race, not of the athletic kind, rather a challenge to see who could grow the most potatoes in a sack, and last week we determined the winner. My daughter won with 1200g, my son following closely with 900g, me taking third place with 600g, and Melanie coming last with a woeful 200g. That’s not much more than the seed potato itself.

Overall not a very good result but I don’t think the technique was at fault. Firstly we used spuds from the organic store as seed potatoes instead of true certified ones. Secondly none of us topped up the soil in the sacks, so the plants only had so much room with which to grow their clone armies. Partly this was due to slackness by the gardeners, but mostly due to not knowing where to source the soil. Nowhere in the garden was there a place I felt I could have dug a hole. I will have to solve this dilemma before next spring though.

Thirdly the bags were heavily exposed to the summer sun, resulting I am sure in allot of moisture loss. Which does explain the winning order. Melanies sack was in the most exposed position, mine less so as it had a bit of afternoon shade, and the childrens bags were both protected by the Melanies and mine. Next race I know where I am going to be sticking my sack, he he he.

For those of you trying to motivate your children to participate in the garden I highly recommend giving a sack race a go. Earlier that day my son refused to join me in the garden, my daughter did but she complained the whole time about dirty hands. But once I announced it was time to determine the winner of the sack race they were both into it like a flash, dirty hands and all. Sadly Children seem such competitive little buggers, but if it gets them gardening why not use it.

Next spring I will be inviting your children to also join us in this race. Who would be interested in joining a national organised event?


  1. Interesting results based on your observations of exposure to sun etc. I don't think you necessarily need soil and can use straw or mulch to cover the potatoes as long as they don't get exposed to direct sunlight. I've seen people successfully grow potatoes in straw on the ground - not a speck of dirt in sight.

    I had a similar thought to run a pot-ato growing competition but I haven't got around to it as yet. I can barely find the time to write a post!

    Isn't it amazing what a little bit of competition can do for kids interest.

    P.S. I saw your garden was open on NPD and hope you had lots of visitors.

    1. That is very interesting and useful information. Adding straw solves my sourcing soil problem. Thanks. Re permaculture day, I only had one family visit but they showed allot of interest and it was a pleasure showing them around.

  2. G'day Jason,

    A worthwhile investment is the book Backyard Self-sufficiency by Jackie French. She has some marvellous ideas, and especially about growing potatoes. She grows them in old tyres piled up two deep, throws a potato into the middle and just covers them with weeds and or straw. But she does insist that you hill them up on a progressive basis. The weeds rot down to compost and all you need to do is keep throwing on mulch. Would work the same way in a bag. She also plants them underneath her avocado tree. We buy our seed stock from www.diggers.com.au and plant them in one of our raised beds. We will do the same this year. I have a wonderful chicken, potato, leek and carrot soup if you are interested.


    1. I am not that keen on the tyre idea. The bags I get to fold up and put away after use. I do however like the idea of just covering them with weeds this would work for both tyre and bag.

  3. I haven't tried this method, but one of my friends made a cylinder our of fencing mesh, put a bit of straw and compost in the bottom then the seed potatoes and then filled it up with more straw and compost as the shoots came through. I've also read about doing it in big rubbish bins. It sounds like a great idea to maximise space by going up not just out, I'm going to definitely try it this year, you can never have too many potatoes!

    1. Now this idea appeals to me... like the bags when it is time to harvest you just pull away the wire and there they are. I also like how easy it would be to pack away, a role of wire is an easy thing to store.

  4. Also I was recently given an award and I'd like to pass it on to you as I've really been enjoying reading about your adventures toward self sufficiency. You can find the details here:


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