Homesteading and Livestock

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Growing Potatoes in Containers

5/23/2011 11:09:18 PM

Tags: urban homesteading, gardening, food, urban farming, organic gardening, potatoes, Deanna Duke

Potatoes in Grow Bag

I've been growing potatoes in bins in our backyard for five years now. I started off using large, plastic storage containers that I drilled holes in for drainage and filled with a few inches of compost. As the potato plants grew, I "hilled" them with more soil.

Unfortunately, I have been less than attentive over the years and generally left the potato plants to get a little too tall before hilling them, which just meant that I probably wasn't getting the optimum yield. Last year, I didn't even really bother with getting potato "seeds" from the nursery and just let what was leftover in the bins grow. Needless to say, we hardly got anything from that experiment.

One thing I did notice, however, due to the paltry amount of potatoes, was that the bin got really soggy. The drainage holes I made just weren't doing their job and the potatoes that did grow were squishy and waterlogged.

Using Grow Bags 

Instead of growing the potatoes in the containers again this year (one completely had degraded due to years of weather and sunlight), I decided to try growing potatoes in grow bags. The bags I ended up getting are felt-like and have a porous fabric that allows excess water to drain and the roots to breathe. Quite a difference from their last environment.

Hilling with Straw and Soil 

One additional thing I'm doing differently this year is hilling the potatoes with layers of straw and soil. In previous years I hilled with just soil and it was always a pain digging through all that dirt to get to the goods. Over the years I had read that you can use straw. I didn't fully believe that just straw would work so I decided to use a combination layering technique of straw and soil.

So far, the potatoes are growing like crazy, but they grew like crazy in the old bins as well. I won't know if there's going to be any improvement until I harvest them, but I'm keeping my hopes up.

Do you grow potatoes? If so, do you grow them in bins?

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2/26/2013 1:27:20 AM
black plastic garbage cans are great for growing potatoes. you can layer with saw dust, dirt, straw all the way to the top and the black color absorbs more heat.......but like the others said, just dumping it over at the end is so much more fun than digging

Susie Oliver
7/14/2012 3:46:52 PM
My daughter-in-law gave me an article on how to grow potatoes in an old tire, and I tried it this growing season. It's growing great, blossoming now, and all I've done is add more soil and water it. I'm anxious to see how many spuds I get! I only planted 1 potatoe, since I've never grown them, and didn't want a boatload of potatoes, since I don't really have a good, cool place to winter them. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Anna Schinske
7/8/2012 12:47:29 PM
Stacked tires works great.

Lisa Tedder
6/26/2012 12:03:48 AM
I have a friend who grows her potatoes in plastic storage bins and hills them exclusively with soil (I use the soil/straw combo myself). She keeps the bins under the eaves of her house, or under a leafy tree and never waters them after the first hilling (thus avoiding soggy soil.) When they're ready, she spreads a tarp out and tips the whole bin on its side, spilling out soil and taters alike. This way she doesn't have to dig into the containers and the tarp contains her soil, which either goes to the garden or into storage until next year!

2/21/2012 10:23:50 PM
I enjoyed your post I think I will give this a try this year. I remember when it was to costly to grow potatoes and cheaper to buy.

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