Grow Your Own Potatoes
April 5, 2013
There are two ways you can approach growing potatoes in a container. If you use a 55-gallon garbage can, you can harvest up to 40 pounds from just a 3′ x 3′ space. Sounds pretty nifty? It is, but what if you love new potatoes, those baby sized ones that are available early in season? You certainly couldn’t go digging about in the one-can potato garden. It would destroy the brittle upper roots of way more young potatoes than you’re after presently. Think of how easily these starchy growths are to snap from a potato you’re cleaning for dinner.
While this will take up more space, growing in smaller multiple containers will require less compost and potting mix. Not only that, you could about double your harvest if you plant just 8 30-liter containers. Well, that is you could if you don’t get a hankering for some baby potatoes before fall. Seems kind of crazy to think you could get more potatoes from small pots, but check out these videos. In 10 weeks he harvested 5.5 pounds of new potatoes from one of his reclaimed nursery tree pots. Left until fall, he got 10 pounds per pot.
If you live in the right climate, you can probably get 2 full-term harvests when you start them early enough. You could also stagger your new potato plantings and get 2-3 harvests of those before cold weather returns. Can you grow fresh potatoes this way in the house? Yes, but you’d need to use high intensity lights, because potatoes need full sun. Still it could be a great addition to the larger grow room if you do one 30-liter pot at a time.
How long does it take to finish off a potato crop? It depends on the type of potato you’ve planted. There are early and main crop varieties, and full term harvest ranges from 15-20 weeks. You can grow potatoes from sprouting ones in your veggie bin, but unless they were labeled organic the spuds have been sprayed with a growth inhibitor to delay sprouting in storage. Plus, you’ll get more potatoes if you plant actual seed potatoes. Then again, in the smaller container, there might not be room for them to grow. Also, if you cut the potato into sections before planting you have to let the exposed inner flesh dry for a few days. If you don’t, your potato starts will rot rather than grow.
Don’t over water – your potatoes won’t store well if they are grown with too much moisture. Don’t forget to keep covering the shoots until they reach the top of the container. Potatoes need to be hidden from the sun or you get green skin.
By the way, there seems to be a rumor going around that a potato with green skin is poisonous. Not quite true. Yes, it contains a toxin, but you’d really have to go out of your way to do yourself any harm. An adult would have to consume over 4 pounds of fully green skinned potatoes for the solanine it contains to have any effect. It’s doubtful you would eat more than 4 pounds of potatoes at a sitting – no matter what color the skin is. So the YouTube video where the lady insists that you must harvest your potatoes in the shade so they won’t turn poisonous… utter hog wash! Farmers have harvested potatoes in the sun forever.
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