The Benefits of Growing Potatoes in Containers
When raised in pots, these edible staples are protected from disease
There are any number of reasons that we gardeners might prefer to grow things up as opposed to out. Here in suburbia, we simply don’t have a whole lot of land to work with. On average, we have a relatively small plot surrounding our homes, and we have to make do with that. Sometimes what we have is land with extremely rocky soil or land that is predominately concrete. Such conditions lead to an incredibly simple method to growing potatoes.
Want another good reason to grow potatoes in containers? Just when you are plumb proud of yourself and your green thumb, potatoes can succumb to a fungus called “blight” (Phtophthora infestans). Its usual place of attack on innocent potatoes is in their garden beds. So planting potatoes in containers can also help protect your harvest.
How to grow potatoes in containers
- Pick a pot. One of the coolest containers to use for growing potatoes is a bushel basket. It’s a great size, and it has that nice farm look. If you don’t have a bushel basket or don’t like the farm look, you can use a 5-gallon bucket or a garbage can, as long as you put holes in the bottom for drainage.
- Fill with a good-quality growing medium. You’ll want to plant only one seed potato in a 5-gallon bucket, but feel free to plant two or three in a bushel basket or garbage can. Fill the container halfway up with compost, which is a disease suppressor, so you will have an extra-good measure against blight or any other fungal enemy.
- Plant the seeds. Set your seed potatoes on top of the compost in the container and add just enough compost on top of the seeds to cover them. As the plants grow, add more compost to cover the tubers—and always make sure the potatoes are buried. Continue to cover the tubers as the plants grow up above the top of your container.
- Check before harvesting. During the summer (after flowering), stick your hand in the container and harvest the potatoes that you need for your favorite side dishes, BBQs, or salads. You’ll harvest for months! Another idea is to simply wait for the tops of the plants to die down and turn the entire container over for an instant fall harvest.
More potato container ideas
- Big cardboard box. That’ll do just fine for the season, and you can compost it later! Just fold the flaps down in the inside and plant. Dig 5 or 6 inches into the ground and bury the bottom edge of the box so it doesn’t blow away. Or place some big rocks at the bottom instead.
- Laundry basket. People living in condos or apartments may find that this makes a great container for growing potatoes.