By Bonnie L. Grant
Growing potatoes in containers can make gardening accessible for the small space gardener. When you grow potatoes in a container, harvesting is easier because all the tubers are in one place. Potatoes can be grown in a potato tower, garbage can, Tupperware bin or even a gunnysack or burlap bag. The process is easy and something the entire family can enjoy from planting to harvesting.
Potato Container Garden
The best potatoes to use for container gardening are those that mature early. Choose certified seed potatoes, which are disease free. The potatoes should mature in 70 to 90 days. You can also choose a variety from the super market that you enjoy. Be aware that some potatoes take 120 days until harvest, so you need a long growing season for these types of potatoes.
There is a wide range of potato container garden methods and mediums. Most potatoes are grown in garden soil but any medium that is well drained is appropriate. Even perlite can be used to grow potatoes in a pot. If you are using a rubber or plastic bin, make sure you drill several drainage holes. Heavy burlap bags make ideal containers because they breathe and drain. Whatever type of container you choose, make sure there is room to build up the soil as the spuds grow. This encourages the formation of even more tubers in layers.
Where to Grow Potatoes in a Container
Full sun conditions with six to eight hours of light and ambient temperatures of around 60 degrees Fahrenheit will provide the best conditions for growing potatoes in containers. You may choose to grow potatoes on the deck in order to have quick access to the smallest new potatoes. Grow new potatoes in a pot outside the kitchen or in large 5-gallon buckets set on the patio.
How to Grow Potatoes in a Container
Plant your potatoes after all danger of frost has passed. Make a free draining soil mixture and mix in a handful of time-release fertilizer. Fill the container 4 inches deep with previously moistened medium.
Cut the seed potatoes into 2-inch chunks that have several eyes on them. Small potatoes can be planted as they are. Plant the chunks 5 to 7 inches apart and cover them with 3 inches of moist soil. Cover container potatoes with more soil after they grow 7 inches and continue to cover the small plants until you reach the top of the bag. Container potatoes need to be kept well watered but not soggy.
Harvesting Container Potatoes
Harvest potatoes after the plants flower and then turn yellow. You can also remove new potatoes before flowering. Once the stems turn yellow, stop watering and wait a week. Dig out the potatoes or just dump the container and sort through the medium for the tubers. Clean the potatoes and let them cure for two weeks for storage.