There’s nothing like the taste of a freshly harvested potato! It’s unlike anything you’ll get at the stores. And guess what? You don’t need a whole lot of gardening space to grow them. They do very well in containers!
You will need:
- Organic seed potatoes
- Some 5 to 10-gallon buckets or containers
- Good soil
- If you can’t find seed potatoes, buy some organic ones at the supermarket and plant those instead.
- You can plant five seed potatoes into a 10-gallon bucket and about three into a 7-gallon. If you’ve only got 5-gallon buckets, plan on using only two potatoes.
- Expect a 5-gallon bucket to yield a couple of pounds of potatoes. So if you’re feeding a family or just love potatoes, do more containers or bigger ones.
- Finally, make sure you select a clean, food-grade container or bucket that has never been used to store any nasty chemicals.
- If there are no drainage holes at the bottom of the container, drill them yourself.
Getting your potatoes going is an easy process, but it takes a little bit of time. Follow the steps below, and in just a few months, you’ll be enjoying the tastiest mashed, roasted, or steamed sides you’ve ever had.
Step 1: Chit Your Potatoes
Making sure your potatoes have chits on them helps your crop grow faster and leads to an earlier harvest. This process involves placing the seed potatoes in a sunny windowsill for a few weeks until the chits (AKA shoots or eyes) are about ¾ of an inch long.
Step 2: Cut And Scab Your Potatoes
Once the chitting process is over, you’ll likely need to cut your seed potatoes into smaller pieces for planting. The rule of thumb is the potato you plant should be no larger than a golf ball.
Cut the potato, so each piece has a couple of chits on it. The flesh will be wet when you cut into it; you need to scab it over so it’s dry for planting. To do this, place the potatoes in a cool, dark place for a few days.
Step 3: Planting The Potatoes
Planting potatoes is a breeze. Start by filling your bucket, container, or fabric pot with 4-6” of good soil. Water so it’s evenly moist.
Next, place the number of potatoes appropriate for the container size (five in a 10-gallon, three in a 7-gallon, two in a 5-gallon) with their eyes up and about 8” apart.
Cover the potatoes with a couple of inches of soil. Tubers exposed to the sunlight will have health issues and compromise the yield.
Sprinkle some bone meal over the top of the soil and mulch. Water thoroughly, making sure the tubers get an inch and a half of moisture weekly.
Within a couple of weeks, you’ll notice the plants beginning to grow. Once the stalks are about 8” high, backfill the buckets with more soil and mulch, leaving just the tops exposed. Let them grow again, and continue to cover with soil until the container is almost full.
When the containers are full, continue watering regularly. Fertilize occasionally with a product higher in phosphorus and potassium (5-10-10 is good).
Step 4: Harvesting Potatoes
Harvest time varies between the type of potatoes planted. You’ll know the potatoes are ready for picking when the plants flower and then die back, usually in about 2-3 months.