Growing Potatoes in Containers

Reader Contribution by Deanna Duke
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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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