My garden soil has blight so I can’t plant potatoes in it. I can protect my tomatoes and peppers from this fungal disease but not my potatoes. So I’m growing potatoes in pots. Even if your garden soil is perfect you may choose to grow potatoes in pots to save space. You may be surprised how many pounds of potatoes you can get from each pot.
Here’s how I planted mine:
- We waited until there was no danger of frost.
- While we could have used grocery store potatoes we wouldn’t have had as high a yield so we got seed potatoes from a local greenhouse.
- The seed potatoes we bought already had eyes but if yours don’t you need to “chit” your seed potatoes. This simply means to get them to sprout eyes. This is done by putting the seed potatoes in a cool, dark place (I use my basement). Each potato should have no more than three eyes because any more weakens the potato and you’ll get small potatoes. Most seed potatoes already have eyes.
- We used a couple of very large pots; one for my Yukon Gold potatoes and one for my red potatoes. Potatoes can be grown in darned near anything, including garbage cans. Just be sure you have enough room to build up the soil as the potatoes grow. This encourages the growth of even more tubers.
- If using a plastic or rubber pot be sure there are plenty of drain holes in the bottom. One of my pots already had drain holes so my son just drilled 6 holes using a 1/4” drill bit in the bottom of the other.
- We used a mix of high quality potting soil and perlite. You can grow your potatoes in almost any drained medium, including perlite. Just be sure it’s a free draining mixture. But before you fill a large pot, make sure you have it positioned where it will get six to eight hours of sunlight and temperatures of about 60° You don’t want to have to move it once it’s filled and heavy. I’m going to have to shade my potatoes part of the day as I didn’t have a spot where I could keep them cool enough.
- We filled the container with about 4 inches of previously moistened soil. Cut large seed potatoes into about 2 inch pieces, each with a couple of eyes. If you’re using small potatoes they can be planted just as they are. If you cut the potatoes let them callus over for a couple of days before planting.
- We planted the potatoes fairly closely. We’re going to see if they thrive being close together and, if they do, we should get enough potatoes for both our households to last well into winter. It’s recommended to plant about 4 tubers for a fourteen inch pot. Be sure to plant them with the eyes facing up.
- After placing the potatoes we covered them with a couple of inches of soil.
- We then watered the potatoes lightly. Soil should be kept continuously moist but not wet. They must never be allowed to dry out! Watering twice a week during summer should do it but keep an eye on the moisture levels.
- I’ll use a good organic fertilizer about every two weeks
- When the plants have reached about 7 inches tall, we’ll cover them with more soil, leaving about an inch or so of the plant showing. We’ll continue covering all but the tops of the small plants with soil until we’ve reached a depth of about 1.5 – 2 feet of soil.
- Potatoes can be harvested once they’ve reached a size you like (just stick your hands in and feel them) or when the plants begin to turn yellow. But please remember that potatoes are a member of the nightshade family and green potatoes are very poisonous!
As my potato plants grow I’ll keep you updated on how they’re doing.
If you live in an area without freezing winters you can grow several potato crops a year, starting with a January planting. I can’t imagine anything better than having newly grown potatoes every day!
We also tried a couple of experimental pots of Baby Finger Carrots.
We planted these in a perlite, coconut fiber mixture. The fiber will dry out fairly quickly so I have to be sure to keep the pots watered consistently.
If you try growing potatoes in pots please tell me about it. I’d love to hear how you did it!