300 Grow Bags Help Preserve Potato Diversity

Curzio Caravati

Curzio Caravati with some of the 300 Potato Grow Bags at the Kenosha Potato Project.

As founder and curator of the Kenosha Potato Project, Curzio Caravati has grown and catalogued more than 300 varieties of potatoes in his collection. Why? Because he is passionate about preserving the genetic diversity of heirloom potatoes and saving varieties from extinction.

“Preserving a storehouse of information helps protect against diseases of the future that could possibly wipe out the main strains of potatoes that are grown in America and internationally,” he says. “Having a gene bank is a safety net against diseases that may have catastrophic impact on growth and productivity.” Caravati works toward his goal with the Seed Savers Exchange and the U.S. Potato Genebank in Sturgeon Bay, WI.

Caravati has chosen to use the Potato Grow Bags for his collection. “I’ve found that growing my collection in Potato Grow Bags is the most convenient method. I have been using them in testing since 2008. Some of my bags have been used for five years and I trust they will be used for another five years or more.” Caravati praises the high quality of the bags, which have porous fabric that aerates roots, prevents heat build-up and allows excess water to drain away.

On his Kenosha Potato Project Facebook page, Caravati gives tips to gardeners around the world on growing potatoes in bags. He believes that everyone who is able to should grow potatoes, for their own health and as a food source safety net.

Gardener’s Supply continues to work with Curzio Caravati to develop an improved Potato Grow Bag that will increase potato yields.

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3 Responses to 300 Grow Bags Help Preserve Potato Diversity

  1. Cyn Sadler says:

    I'm wondering how easy it is to grow potatoes like this in the hot desert climate? I would love to do this. What an awesome idea! Do you have any tips on different climates?

  2. I worry that the bags would get too hot in your climate. It would be hard to keep up with the watering — unless you connected them to a drip irrigation system. You might also need to consider growing under shade cloth to reduce the sun's intensity.

    It would also be smart to check with a good gardener in the area. Do potatoes thrive there? What varieties are best? Your local cooperative extension might be able to put you in touch with a Master Gardener in your neighborhood. We always say that the best gardening information often comes “across the fence”. In other words, it comes from your gardening neighbors, who are dealing with similar conditions. To find out where your extension service is, start here: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/
    -David Grist, Gardener's Supply

  3. Curzio says:

    Also, Cyn Sadler, I guess you live in a Southern region. I know potato is planted as soon as early January in Florida so that your growing season would end before the high heat of the summer sets in. Most important factor is to use potato varieties which are light neutral .. some varieties only develop tubers when the day length shortens [after June Solstice]! Curzio, Kenosha Potato Project

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