How to Grow Potatoes in a Container? Growing potatoes in containers rather than in the ground has various advantages. The main advantage is that it is easier to shield the plants from creatures that prefer to eat them, such as voles.
Container potatoes are another enjoyable project to do with children. The plants develop quickly and give a high yield for the amount of space required. Harvesting potatoes in a container is similar to a treasure hunt for kids: simply tip the container over and let them rummage through the dirt for tasty treats.
The only true disadvantage to growing potatoes in containers is that you must be more diligent about watering because container soil dries out faster than ground soil. It is critical to keep your soil moist but not wet. You should have an abundant potato harvest if you check the soil moisture frequently and water deeply.
When to Plant Potatoes in Containers
Planting potatoes in containers is similar to planting them in the ground in terms of timing. Planting in-ground potatoes about two weeks before the last frost in your area is the typical guideline. 1 When planting in containers, you may be able to move the planting date forward slightly because the soil warms up faster when exposed to the sun above ground. However, if a late spring frost is expected, cover or bring your potato containers indoors.
Although it is not a typical practise, potatoes can be grown indoors in the winter if appropriate heat and light are provided. Some people grow them in a greenhouse during the winter, but they will also grow well in a window with plenty of direct sunshine or under grow lights.
Before Getting Started
Growing potatoes in containers, grow bags, or the ground differs slightly from growing other crops. Potatoes are cultivated by “hilling,” which involves progressively burying the stems by heaping additional soil over the plant as it rises upward. As the hill climbs taller, the lower buried stems will generate new root structures (potatoes). As a result, hilling is critical for getting the most out of each potato plant. Burying the stems also protects the potatoes from light, which causes them to turn green.
The hilling technique differs slightly while growing potatoes in containers, but the fundamentals remain the same. The seed potatoes are barely covered with soil when they are first sown. Additional soil is heaped around the plant at regular intervals as it grows, until the container is full.
How to Grow Potatoes in a Container?
1. Prepare the Potting Soil and Container
When growing potatoes in containers, use high-quality, fast-draining potting soil, especially if the container is plastic. Organic soils are also an excellent alternative. A half-and-half mixture of commercial potting soil and excellent compost is one ideal alternative. Ordinary garden soil is not suitable for growing potatoes in containers because it drains poorly and contains pathogens and weed seeds.
Potatoes can be grown in a variety of opaque containers, ideally 2 to 3 feet tall with a capacity of 10 to 15 gallons. 2 Avoid pots that are taller than this since it can be difficult to water the plants properly, causing the potatoes to rot. Specialty potato bags are available at garden stores and online garden sellers, but any number of different recycled containers, such as:
- Wooden half-barrels
- Garbage bins
- Plastic storage tubs
- Chimney flues
- Burlap sacks
- Canvas tote bags
2. Add Fertilizer
Incorporate a slow-release organic fertiliser into the potting soil. In addition to this initial feeding, feed your potatoes every couple of weeks with a diluted liquid fertiliser, such as fish emulsion. Potatoes grown in containers require a lot of water, which can leech nutrients out of the soil. As a result, plants grown in containers often require more nutrition than plants cultivated in the ground.
One advantage of utilising organic fertiliser is that it is considerably more forgiving if you pour too much. You might easily burn your plants if you use too much traditional fertiliser.
3. Prepare the Seed Potatoes
There are several opinions about how to prepare seed potatoes for planting, and one is not necessarily superior to the others. Some individuals wait for their potatoes to sprout before planting them whole, but others plant the seed potatoes right away.
Experienced gardeners recommend cutting the seed potatoes into pieces with at least two eyes—growth nodes where shoots will emerge. Allow the cut surfaces to “callus over” by leaving them for a few days before planting.
4. Position the Seed Potatoes
Place the container in direct sunlight. Fill the container with 4 to 6 inches of potting soil enriched with compost and fertiliser. Place the prepared seed potato pieces in the potting mix, eye buds up. Because the plants will grow quite huge, make sure to allow them some breathing space. A container about 20 inches wide, for example, can hold four tiny seed potatoes. When you’re planting, it may not seem like much, but the size of your potato harvest will astound you.
5. Cover the Seed Potatoes to Grow Potatoes in a Container
Cover the seed potatoes with a couple of inches of prepared potting soil after you’ve placed them. Don’t get too excited about this because you don’t want to plant them too deeply. A depth of 1 to 4 inches of soil is ideal. The less soil you should put on top, the cooler the climate.
6. Tend to the Growing Potatoes to Grow Potatoes in a Container
Potatoes cannot grow in the absence of sunlight and water. Make sure your container gets at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. Make sure to thoroughly water your newly planted potatoes. Remember that keeping your soil damp but not wet is one of the secrets to growing potatoes.
At least once a day, inspect the container. Stick your finger at least an inch into the soil to check the moisture level (or up to your second knuckle). It’s time to water if it seems dry. If the weather is really hot or windy, you may need to water your potato container gardens more than once per day.
Water thoroughly by waiting until water runs out the bottom. Simply watering the soil’s surface is ineffective. The advantage of containers is that you can tell when you’ve watered thoroughly enough. Simply watch for water to seep out of the container’s bottom to determine if they have enough water.
7. “Hill” the Potatoes to Grow Potatoes in a Container
When your potato plants are about 6 inches tall, you should “hill” them. This is accomplished by surrounding your potato plants with a couple of inches of prepared soil, covering the developing stems at the bottom. Take care not to damage the plants in the process. The goal is to cover the bottom leaves with soil and bury around one-third of the plant. Because the buried stems will produce more potatoes, hilling is necessary for a healthy crop.
As your plants grow, you’ll need to repeat the hilling technique a couple more times. Stop when the soil reaches the top of your container. Potato plants develop quickly, so keep an eye on them and don’t allow them get too far ahead of you.
8. Harvest the Potatoes
After the plants have flowered, you can begin harvesting potatoes at any time. Reach down into the soil of your container and carefully pluck out a few new potatoes at a time. When the plants turn yellow and die back late in the season, you can harvest all of the remaining potatoes at once. Turning the container over and dumping it into a wheelbarrow or onto a tarp is the simplest way to accomplish this. You can then paw through the soil freely to find all of the potatoes.
You might come across a few really tiny potatoes, but don’t throw them away. Those are some of the tastiest and sweetest potatoes of the season, and they’re ideal for putting whole into a stew.
9. Storing Harvested Potatoes
Cook your potatoes immediately or save them for later. Begin by brushing off the dirt and allowing them to dry for a few days before storing. It’s preferable to keep them in baskets or paper bags that enable them to breathe.
Working With Potatoes
Potatoes can be grown in any large container, from giant pots or nursery containers to large garbage cans. Even trash bags or tyre stacks may suffice, however be cautious because they can become very hot under the sun.
Smart Pots are also an excellent choice for potatoes. These growth containers are lightweight, eco-friendly, and constructed of fabric, allowing your potatoes to breathe as they grow. They also have excellent natural drainage, ensuring that your potatoes do not languish in water and decay. Whatever container you choose, be sure it has adequate drainage. If it lacks drainage, make some by drilling holes in the bottom.
Also Read: How to Grow Apple Trees in Pots?