How to Grow Potatoes in Containers

How to Grow Potatoes in Containers

Growing potatoes in containers is a great way to enjoy fresh homegrown spuds, especially if you have limited garden space. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to grow potatoes in containers:

Materials You’ll Need:

Containers: Choose containers or pots with a minimum capacity of 5 gallons (19 liters) per potato plant. Containers should have drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging. You can use large pots, fabric grow bags, or even repurpose items like old barrels or buckets.

Potting Mix: Use a high-quality potting mix that is well-draining and rich in organic matter.

Seed Potatoes: Purchase certified disease-free seed potatoes from a nursery or garden center. You can also use sprouted potatoes from your kitchen, but it’s essential to ensure they are disease-free.

Fertilizer: Consider using a balanced, slow-release granular fertilizer or well-rotted compost for nourishing the potatoes.

Steps:

Select the Containers:

Choose containers that are at least 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) deep. Potatoes grow underground, so the depth is crucial.
Prepare the Potting Mix:

Fill the containers with about 6 inches (15 cm) of potting mix.
Prepare the Seed Potatoes:

If using large seed potatoes, cut them into pieces, making sure each piece contains at least one “eye” or bud. Allow the cut pieces to air dry for a day to minimize the risk of rotting.
Plant the Potatoes:

Place the seed potatoes or potato pieces evenly on top of the potting mix in the container, with the “eyes” facing upward. Space them about 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) apart.
Add More Soil:

Cover the seed potatoes with another 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) of potting mix.
Water Thoroughly:

Water the containers thoroughly to settle the soil. Ensure the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged.
Fertilize:

Once the potato plants begin to grow and reach a height of about 6 inches (15 cm), apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer or well-rotted compost on top of the soil.
Hilling (Optional):

As the potato plants continue to grow, you can add more potting mix or compost around the stems, covering about half of the stems each time. This promotes the growth of additional tubers and prevents the potatoes from being exposed to sunlight, which can cause them to turn green and develop solanine.
Watering:

Keep the soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Potatoes require regular watering, especially during dry spells.
Provide Sunlight:

Place the containers in a sunny location where the potato plants receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day.
Monitor for Pests and Diseases:

Keep an eye out for common potato pests and diseases, such as aphids, potato beetles, and late blight. Implement pest control measures as needed.
Harvesting:

Potatoes are typically ready for harvest when the foliage turns yellow and begins to die back. Carefully dig up the potatoes with a garden fork or your hands.
Growing potatoes in containers is a convenient way to enjoy fresh, homegrown spuds, and it’s suitable for both beginners and experienced gardeners. By following these steps and providing the right growing conditions, you can have a successful potato harvest in your container garden.