8

I've searched the Internet for answers but cannot seem to find anything about maincrop potatoes being grown in soil-less environment. Do any of you have any experience or knowledge on the subject?

My idea is to grow potatoes in 3 stages in aeroponic/aquaponic systems (depending on viability):

  1. Incubator for small plants ready to become cuttings
  2. Suspended aeroponic system for maximum yield of seed potatoes
  3. Suspended aeroponic system for growing the seed potatoes to mature potatoes.

Has anyone tried growing maincrop or mature potatoes in aeroponics system? Or in aquaponic?

Please share your thoughts!

  • 1
    That's a really interesting idea. Just make sure you exclude light from the root zone or you'll end up with toxic potatoes! – George of all trades Mar 2 '17 at 18:55
  • 1
    Excellent add George of all trades! Another very interesting question, Georgi. Light reaching your potatoes will cause them to turn green and, that will cause toxicity, big time. Using soil, one can start a potato and do a vertical tower of potatoes using just straw. Potatoes need a more acidic pH 5.5 to 6.0 believe it or not!! Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant...are all part of the nightshade family. Growing potatoes hydroponically is something I am at the moment not seeing....grins. – stormy Mar 3 '17 at 1:16
3

I have not done this in actual practice, but we can apply theory in a thought experiment.

Fact 1: potatoes grow vigorously and will break open pots that are too small

Fact 2: if the potato plant is happy then it will bear heavy tubers

Fact 3: new potatoes grow from shoots sent out by the parent above the seed potato, that is, from the vegetative shoot, not the feeder roots

Method: So we get a tank and arrange some kind of a grid under the top surface of the tank for the parent tubers to rest on. We allow the tubers to make lanky sprouts so that we can have the tops in the light and the tubers right down on the grid to start. The parent tubers will need support, agreed? The grid will be several inches below the tank lid to allow space for the new tubers to form in the dark. Probably the grid would need to be fine, otherwise the new potatoes will just drop through the grid when small and grow big under the grid without support. But this means a problem; the finer the grid, the harder it will be for a spray to reach the roots above the grid.

So the roots dangle down into the fertilizer mix or aeroponic spray. They have all the food and water they want and do well. This will make for crowding in the opening through the tank lid. So we need a collar which will allow for new vegetative shoots to emerge into the light as required. There have been efforts to grow beet tops hydroponically, and one of the problems is management of the neck of the plant as it, inevitably, gets big. So likely there will be issues at the growing neck.

Also, would you like to risk growing them without the supporting grid? Over to you.

  • I think your grid idea should work if the grid is only used as drainage/support and the nutrients are sprayed from above rather than from below as it is usually done. I believe that, in the case of potatoes, most of the root mass grows between the crown and the tubers which also grow above the parent seed potato. Without a grid my bet is it snaps. – user10810 Mar 3 '17 at 1:10
  • 2
    My thinking is close to what @jbcreix has written. I was thinking of a plastic net, much like the ones potatoes are sold in bulk, attached to the tank on several heights where you would place your cuttings, with side holes for the plant stem and leafs to grow upwards. The plastic net (if correctly chosen) should provide structure without covering the tubers too much, leaving them no air. Having no other media to take up the space for growth and having top to bottom watering with nutrients might work? I will make a drawing and post it later – kr3t3n Mar 3 '17 at 9:12
  • 1
    Here are some drawings of the concept: imgur.com/a/QfSzw As you can see in drawing 1, I'm thinking of securing two levels of plastic net with space in between them a bit more than the diameter of a fully grown potato. Those are inside of a barrel or a tube. The tube has holes on its south facing side where the potato cuttings would grow out and feed on sunlight as described in drawing 2. Then in drawings 3, 4 and 5 are three separate methods of watering with nutrients drawing 3: with a mist making machine drawing 4: with sprinkler type system drawing 5: with top shaworing system – kr3t3n Mar 3 '17 at 11:40
  • 1
    As for the plastic net, I am thinking of something like this: sc01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1kKALGVXXXXc4XFXXq6xXFXXXO/221237254/… Also, as the plants grow, they could potentially be pulled back inside the barrel (in the plastic net area where the potato growth would happen). If the leafy part requires some structure to climb on, I can build a wall from another type of plastic net: sure-green.com//media/product_pages/thumb388.jpg That should provide them the area to grow and wrap around, if my logic is correct. – kr3t3n Mar 3 '17 at 11:43
  • 1
    And here's a drawing of the plastic net wall/fence idea: imgur.com/a/B8cyl Would love to hear people's thoughts on all of this! – kr3t3n Mar 3 '17 at 11:54
2

There's an instructable here on growing hydroponic potatoes. I'm guessing he uses a flood and drain system and uses LECA or similar to cover the potatoes so that sunlight doesn't get to them. Some people just use gravel to cover their spuds as they grow.

  • Hi Graham, thank you very much for the link, I will check with Nathan from the instructables video to get more info on the potato growth. – kr3t3n Mar 4 '17 at 9:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.