As part of my foray into container gardening this year, I decided that it would be fun to try my hand at growing some potatoes. I’d done a fair amount of reading, and it seemed like growing potatoes in containers was pretty workable. I’d seen several examples of people growing them in old tires stacked 4 high, fencing towers stuffed with straw, and some much more elaborate wood sided towers that allowed for taking the bottom rung off and pulling potatoes out from under the plant.
When it came time to plant my potatoes, I decided that for the first time around, I’d just use one of the larger containers that I already had laying around the yard. I’d previously used it to try and grow some flowers in, and while those turned out fine, some produce would be even better. I also found and picked up another container that I wanted to give a try with potatoes. It’s a bag made specifically for growing potatoes in, called, wait for it, Potato Planter. It’s kind of cool though. It’s made out of the same material that those blue tarps are made out of, and is designed with a velcro flap near the bottom of the bag to allow for you to open the bag and pull some potatoes out of the bottom while letting the rest of the potatoes grow near the top.
So, armed with my containers and a couple of bags of topsoil, I set about planting some potatoes!
Steps for growing potatoes in containers:
- Fill each container with about 6 inches of soil.
- Cut your seed potatoes so that each piece has about 2-3 eyes on it.
- Place your seed potatoes onto the soil. (I’m sure there’s a scientific spacing you should observe, but I didn’t. I placed them about 6 inches apart.)
- Cover the seed potatoes with a couple of inches of soil and water thoroughly.
- Water as needed. (Remember that containers dry out faster than your garden will, so they need more frequent watering.)
- When the plants are about 6 inches tall, add more soil until the soil is about 2 inches from the top of the plant.
- Repeat until the container is full of soil.
- Continue to water, and wait.
After the plants have flowered, and the plant itself starts to yellow and die off, give the potatoes about a week to two weeks to mature, then harvest them. (This step and the ones following are purely from my research, and not from experience yet. I could be way off!)
- When you harvest the potatoes, set them out in a warm, dry place to dry. This is supposed to allow the skins to harden up a bit for better storage. (One downside here is that the second the potato gets to a harvested state, the natural sugars in the potato begin converting to starch. I’ll be trying a few fresh from the ground and some that have been “hardened” and see how much of a difference there is.)
- Repeat next year!
So far, I’ve gotten as far as planting, and adding soil to the potato containers. I’ve got one more batch of soil to add to the containers to fill them up with soil, then it’s just a waiting game as the plants grow potatoes and I wait for harvest time. This year is a bit of an experiment, as it’s our first year of dedicated container gardening, as well as the first time I’ve ever grown potatoes. Rather than add too many variables to the mix, I just planted some seed potatoes that I got from our local grocery store. If I recall, they were the Red Pontiac variety.
Next year, should this year be a success (and it’s looking like it will be), I would like to order some seed potatoes of different varieties. In particular, some purple potatoes. Mostly, just because I think they look cool! I’d like to try a few of the heritage/organic varieties too, and see if there’s much of a difference.
Have any of you ever successfully grown potatoes in your gardens or in containers? Got any hints or tips for me? Suggestions for varieties to grow next year?