By Bonnie L. Grant
The potato is a favorite and versatile food that proves easy and inexpensive to grow. Home gardeners traditionally hill potatoes to encourage them to produce lots of roots and hence lots of tubers. This method takes some space and there is a high probability that you will not get all the spuds out of the earth when you harvest. Grow bags for potatoes are an excellent solution for patio or small space gardeners. You can make your own potato bag or purchase them. Learning how to grow potatoes in a bag will provide a space saving solution, and it’s a fun family project.
About Potato Grow Bags
You can make a bag out of burlap or even grow potatoes in a cardboard box. The container or bag lets the plant spread out its roots and you can still add layers of soil. The reason for layering is the same as hilling. Potato tubers send out roots at the eyes, which branch out in soil. The more you cover the top of the root zone, the more roots they send out. More roots equal more potatoes.
Using potato grow bags allows you to control the region the tubers are planted in and makes them easy to harvest. The spuds will be confined to the box or bag so all you need to do is dig around to find them.
How to Make Your Own Potato Bag
The easiest bags are just old burlap sacks with the tops rolled down. You can also sew or staple together weed barrier fabric into the appropriate shape. Leave enough fabric at the top to unroll as you hill the potatoes inside. You are not limited to growing potatoes in bags, however.
You can also set out an old tire and fill it with soil and seed potatoes. Another easy method is to cut off the top of a bag of compost. Dump out all but the bottom few inches of compost and roll the top of the bag down. Plant in the bottom of the bag, adding compost as the plants grows.
How to Grow Potatoes in a Bag
Once you have a bag for your potatoes, fill the bottom with a couple of inches of soil and compost mix and plant your seed potatoes. Fill with just enough medium to cover the tops of the tubers. Keep the soil mix evenly moist and cover the sprouted potato greens with compost mix as they come up.
Keep them covered and unroll the burlap as the soil level rises. Once the soil is at the top of the bag, allow the plants to flower and die back and then dump out the contents so you can pick through and get all the spuds. You can also harvest young spuds early in the process. Growing potatoes in bags is a simple, no-fuss method that yields more potatoes and causes less harvest damage.
Additional Potato Growing Tips
Situate your bags in full sun and keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Keep an eye out for pests, especially chewing insects which can affect the vigor of your plants. Occasionally unearth a small tuber and check for any damage to the young potato. If you use clean new compost, you are unlikely to have any major soil borne insect problems.
Start harvesting as soon as you have little potatoes for tender spuds on the grill. By fall, remove all the spuds to prevent them from freezing and splitting.