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hookahhead

My purple cactus (A.K.A. Peruvian fingerlings)

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Thought I would share a bit of an amusing story with everybody. Sometime around the end of 2012, I was looking for acquire a bit more pereskiopsis for grafting. A very generous member of another forum sent me a box stuffed full of plants. Along with the pereskiopsis I had asked for, they had tossed in several other plants and seeds, for FREE :) ! (If you happen to read this, thank you again for your generosity)

However there was one thing in the box that I didn't really have a clue what it was. At first I thought it might be a seed pod or something, but I had no luck getting it open. I quickly forgot about it and It sat in my drawer for a month before I rediscovered it. I immediately noticed it was significantly more dehydrated than when I received it. Reexamining it, I noticed the bottom of it was cut and had calloused over. It also appeared to have small indented areas, which kinda looked like areoles to me. Of course its a small cactus cutting! I had only been growing cacti for 3-4 months at the time and was disappointed that I didn't recognize it at first. Here I had this cool looking purple/blue cactus cutting, and I had probably killed it.

Hoping for the best, I potted it up like a normal cactus cutting, and watered it occasionally. After a few weeks, It had rehydrated and was starting to root. It didn't do much for a while, but I was thankful that it was even still alive. About 2 months passed, and then it pushed out a little purple pup! However the pup never really grew much, and I had been considering grafting it. Luckily, before I could make an even bigger fool of myself, the had plant developed a stem with leaves.

Purple Peruvian fingerling potato

(notice the "pup" and "aeroles"?)

Hmm, something obviously wasn't right here... Afraid that I had been incubating some kind of alien egg, I finally messaged the sender to find out what it was before it hatched.

I was a bit embarrassed to learn that it wasn't a cactus at all, but a Purple Peruvian fingerling potato! :blush:

I had never grown potatoes before, so I did a bit of reading about them. The seed potato produced several shoots, which I would remove and place into a large pot. It's suggested when growing potatoes that you plant them shallow, and continue to cover them with dirt as they grow. This allows them to develop tubers the whole way up the stem.

When I harvested at the end of the summer, this is what had grown :o

Purple Peruvian Fingerling Potato

Purple Peruvian Fingerling Potato

(original potato on the left)

I had intended on eating a few at some point, but again I had neglected them. I noticed a month ago, that they had all sprouted. I got a lot of enjoyment growing these last year, and certainly wanted them in my garden again this summer. However, I don't have much room for a garden, and certainly not enough to grow them in pallets like many people suggest.

If you're familiar with my other posts, you already know that if it's recycled or free...than it's for me! My gardens made almost entirely out of trash :wink:. So, this is what I came up with..

I have access to free large burlap coffee sacks. The milk crate I already had laying around and seemed ideal. It's decently sized, provides structure, yet has large enough holes to allow the roots to roam freely. The bags are about waist high, so I rolled the extra down around the milk crate. I will continue to fill it with dirt as they grow, and unravel the burlap when the milk crate becomes full. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, I'll have a giant sack of purple cacti potatoes!

Burlap coffee sack

Purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes

Purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes

Purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes

Edited by hookahhead
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Had to add some soil already, these are such fun to grow!

IMG 0788

IMG 0789

They still have 5 month to grow until harvest B)

IMG 0790

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Wow mate they are awesome!!! If you happen to want to trade something for one, I only want one!!, then lemme know, could send you some cool culinary seeds in return ;)

I would cut the bottom off another crate and sit ontop with a wrapper to keep the soil in! IE double the height! Feed em up good and don't be afraid to really pile the soil in!!

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In fact you could get it to 3-4 milk crates easy of your keen. I've seen 'tatas grown in 44 gallon drums before stacked on one another. Actually the top drum was only half size, but still very impressive.

Edit; you wouldn't even need to cut the bottoms off, the shoots will happily grow thru the bottom!

Edited by prioritise
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Hmm, I hadn't even considered adding another milk crate :o

I had planned on just unrolling it, but I think a second crate is a much better idea.

Send me a pm, but I'm going to send 2, they've all sprouted eyes and I have at least 10 left. :unsure:

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It's amazing how quick they grow. Unfortunately, I didn't track down another milk crate in time, so I will be sticking with my original plan.

Purple Peruvian Fingerling Potato

I have to mix up more soil, I've nearly filled the crate already!

Purple Peruvian Fingerling Potato

Purple Peruvian Fingerling Potato

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Plenty of time to snag another crate bro! There looking great! Maybe pinch and fold the shoots over into the new crate to reduce headroom temporarily? Ie put the new crate on and slightly pinch the stems till they fall over, allow to callus for a day and then bury with your soil. Those plants will be all bush not many spuds without the room. I just got some and planted them quite heavily considering how small the tatas are.

I wonder what nuts regime we could use to boost the fruits?

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This is really awesome and really easy - no one can possibly say they don't have enough room to grow spuds at home.

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