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Originally published March 9, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 9, 2009 at 4:18 AM

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How to grow potatoes at home

Yes, a city slicker can grow 100 pounds of potatoes in four square feet by building a wooden box and following these easy instructions.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Can a city slicker grow 100 pounds of potatoes in 4 square feet?

Yes.

In their Irish Eyes Garden Seeds print catalog and on their Web site, Greg and Sue Lutovsky have posted the simple instructions, along with an easy-to-follow sketch.

Basically, you plant seed potatoes inside a wooden box and build the box upward board by board as the potato plant grows. With each new board, you cover about a third of the vine, which then produces more potato tubers.

Greg and Sue say container growth of potatoes yields 200 to 3,000 percent more than open-field culture.

Rich Davies, 37, a commercial real-estate underwriter from Mountlake Terrace, decided last year to try the Lutovsky box. He figured gardening would relieve his job stress, help his family eat healthier and be fun for his kids.

For growing potatoes in containers, says Davies, "at first I was looking at using garbage cans or tires. Neither looked particularly good in a yard."

Davies figured he spent around $30 to $40 for the boards to build two containers. He says cutting up the boards and building the bases took maybe a couple of hours.

Seed potatoes, which start their lives in culture labs, are specifically grown to produce other potatoes.

Davies says he grew 25 pounds of potatoes out of 1 pound of seed potatoes. He recommends using late-season seed potatoes, as early varieties produce potatoes only on the bottom of the box.

He says his oldest son, Logan, then 4, "had a ball harvesting the potatoes ... you use your hands to scoop out the dirt and basically dig through it for the potatoes."

Potatoes need to be stored in a cool, dry, dark place, and Davis nested his in layers of shredded paper in a ventilated box.

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Davies chronicled his efforts, along with photos, on his blog. He says it has been viewed 4,000 times, and he's heard from nearly 100 people who tried potato boxes.

Gardening did relieve his stress, says Davies. His goal now "is to harvest fresh fruits and vegetables from my garden year-round."

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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