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Growing Potatoes in Bags and Containers

What to do with those sprouting potatoes… and how to grow potatoes while maximizing your garden space? In this article we get into numerous cool ideas for growing potatoes indoors and out, in containers such as pots, grow bags and directly in soil bags. 

Growing potatoes can occupy a lot of  space for a long time. So if you’re looking for alternatives that keep potatoes from hogging precious garden space while keeping them easier to harvest, you’ll enjoy these ideas.

Growing Potatoes

Planting Potatoes from Sprouts

Excerpted from TheSharingGardens.Blogspot.ca1)https://thesharinggardens.blogspot.ca/2011/06/sprouting-potatoes-what-to-do.html

We love to plant sprouting potatoes whenever we can instead of tossing them!

Benefits of Growing Potatoes?

  • Cheaper to grow organic potatoes than to buy them
  • A single plant can provide up to 5lbs of potatoes (although our son will eat that in 2 days!) 😜
  • Fun to grow
  • Taste so much better!

A single potato plant can yield up to 5 pounds of potatoes.

When to Plant Potatoes?

Average potato growing time is ~5 months. Plant seed potatoes as soon in spring as ground can be worked, or when soil is 45℉ degrees and above.

Most varieties need between 17 and 19 weeks from planting to harvest, plus two weeks for “chitting”. So around 20 weeks is a general rule of thumb.

 

What is Chitting Potatoes?

POTATO CHITTING: To chit potatoes is to encouraging the potatoes to sprout ~6 weeks before planting.

Place potatoes—eyes up—such as in cardboard egg cartons in indirect sunlight, such as a covered porch or shed. Plant, sprout up at ~¾” tall.

To Sprout Potatoes

Potatoes must go through 4-6 month dormancy before they can sprout again.

TO DELAY SPROUTING: Keep potatoes in a cool, dry storage area.
TO HASTEN SPROUTING: Place in a warm humid area.

Growing potatoes from sprouts
Growing potatoes – sprout to ~3/4 inch, then plant sprout-side up.

 

Cheap Containers for Sprouted Potatoes

Here’s a clever idea for starting potatoes indoors and getting a jump on the long growing season.

Recycle paper lunch or grocery bags into grow bags. Just be careful when you transplant that the bottom doesn’t fall out before you place it in the hole. For larger bags, try doubling them; they’ll still decompose.

“Root sprouting potatoes in double-thick paper lunch bags filled with potting soil. By the time the plants are set out in the garden, the bags are ready to decompose.”
~Barbara Pleasant, on GrowVeg.com

Growing Potatoes in Grow Bags

A longer lasting solution than paper bags, is to use grow bags. We’re using basic grow bags for our longevity spinach, but you can also get grow bags designed specifically for potatoes and other root veggies.

 

Made out of porous landscape fabric, these typically come in 5-10 gallon sizes. Also called patio potato bags, these grow bags are typically reusable through a few seasons.

Grow Bags vs Pots:

ADVANTAGES:

  • Typically cost less
  • Take up less storage space
  • More environmentally friendly

DISADVANTAGES

  • Most grow bags are less attractive than most pots
  • Grow bags won’t last as long as pots

If you’re in a warmer climate, this may not be for you, as it’s best to grow potatoes in the ground in nice loamy soil when it’s out of the freeze zone.

If you live in a hot climate, grow bags may cause potatoes to stop setting tubers. This is not much of an issue when you’re pushing the season to accommodate seriously sprouted potatoes in early spring. And potatoes are easily transplantable, so you could start in bags and then move to the ground or raised bed. 

Potatoes are infinitely transplantable!
~Barbara Pleasant, gardener, writer

How to Grow Potatoes in a Container

  1. Plant smaller whole seed potatoes with eyes or sprouts
    • If using larger potatoes, cut slices out around the potato eyes 
    • let sit overnight to heal
  2. Use a 5 gallon grow bag, pot, or bucket with drainage holes
  3. Place 2-3″ good soil in bottom
  4. Add seed potatoes, eyes/sprouts up
  5. Cover with 2-3″ of soil
  6. As potatoes grow, keep adding soil

Remember, potatoes grow upwards into the greenery, so keep adding new soil to every 4″ or so of green growth.

Growing potatoes in containers gives you options. You can even place your potato containers on castors to make them more portable for patio gardens and decks. Just be sure you have them in full sun.

The attractive leaves of sweet potato plants are good for patio vegetable gardens.

 

 

Growing Potatoes in Burlap Bags

Potatoes seem to be the most popular item to grow in burlap sacks, though you can also grow peppers, tomatoes, and other garden veggies.  

Where to find free burlap bags from local cafes or coffee shops, or perhaps your local grocer has potato sacks they throw away every day. Growing in burlap is such a popular thing now so it’s easy to find many plant-ready burlap bag options.

Benefits of Growing Potatoes in Burlap Bags

  • Saves garden space
  • Good for patio gardens
  • Great for areas with poor soil or weather challenges
  • Facilitates growing more through crop rotation
  • Cheaper than most grow bags
  • Aerates better than growing straight in plastic soil bags
  • Easy to transplant directly into the ground – bag and all
  • Helps protect potatoes from groundhogs and moles
  • Advantages of Container Gardening

 

"Growing in burlap is such a popular thing now so it’s easy to find many plant-ready burlap bag options." #gardening #bags #potatoes #vegetables #raisedbeds #bin #containers #inpots #repurpose #design #diy #ideas #tips #planter #projects #garden #backyard #patio #outdoor #video #indoors #plants #spaces #veggies #howtouse #forbeginners #boxes #potted #art #simple

Where to Find Burlap Bags for Free

Some food and coffee products are still shipped in burlap bags, so ask your local retailers, such as:

  • Coffee shops – coffee beans are often shipped in these and they get tossed
  • Grocery stores – produce departments may receive their potatoes in burlap

Potatoes seem to be the most popular item to grow in burlap sacks, though you can also grow peppers, tomatoes, and other garden veggies.

There’s also a wide array of burlap bags on Amazon.


Contributions from the Community

burlap grow bags, growing potatoes
Growing potatoes in burlap bags – image by Stephen Morris, Oklahoma

GardensAll community member Stephen Morris shared what he’s doing:

I’ve tried everything only to fail. Now I’ve got it.

I got tired of losing my potatoes every year from too much rain. This is in Oklahoma, North of Elgin, South of Chickasha.
It’s all cattle farms around us. The Oklahoma red dirt doesn’t grow very good anything. We call it “Oklahoma Cement”.

I got lucky and have a very viable soil for my garden, but my problem is space, so this is a space efficiency concept too.

Growing things in burlap can help with freeing up space for crop rotation. Since potatoes take around 5 months to grow, you can grow early crops in the ground, then later transplant the potatoes.

Burlaps bags makes it easier to later plant in the ground. Once you find some good soil, then just plant the burlap in the ground, roots will come out through the burlap bags.

We have a serious groundhog problem here too, so growing in bags definitely helps with that.

Stephen’s photos below include:

  • 2 Purple
  • 2 Yukon Gold
  • 3 Red
Growing potatoes in burlap bags, grow bags
Growing potatoes in burlap bags – image by Stephen Morris, Oklahoma

 

Stephen Morris’s Recipe for Growing Great Potatoes

SOIL FOR POTATOES RECIPE

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix sand and mushroom compost thoroughly
  2. Cut in a little organic soil
  3. Start with very little soil, and potato cuttings. (see outline and/or video below for more specifics)
  4. As the plant comes up, fill with more sand mushroom compost organic soil, until it reaches the top

Potatoes will grow in the burlap bag until time to harvest, and no worry about getting drowned anymore.

GardensAll’s Sweet Potato Experiment

Some people plant seed potatoes directly into bags of soil. In fact we’re doing that with our sweet potatoes this year. For some, more aeration may be needed, and if you’re in a hot climate you’ll miss the benefit of the cooler ground temperatures.

growing potatoes. container gardening,
Growing potatoes in bags of soil and burlap bags – image by GardensAll.com

 

Video of GardensAll Sweet Potato Experiment

 

How to Build a Potato Box

If like to make things with power tools, you may want to make your own potato box.

Jason Hunt does a GREAT job of explaining and demonstrating how to build a potato box. Jason also includes great info on his watering system and crop yields over three years with different weather conditions.

NOTE: For the best harvest, be sure to use light fertilized soil that will not compact down too much.

Grow 40+ lbs of Potatoes in Only 4 Sq. Ft.

 

How to Build a Potato Barrel

So from box to barrel. Which is your preference? Have a look at this method as yet another option for growing 40+ pounds of potatoes in a small space.

If you like the idea of 55 Gallon Drum Gardening, you will enjoy this popular article on how to create raised garden beds using drums.

 

 

How To Plant Potatoes for High Yields

Now for the final bit. Here’s the MIgardener with great information on how to grow great potatoes.

Tips on Planting Potatoes in Raised Bed Gardening

By MIgardener

  • You can plant as soon as soil can be worked but potatoes will grow at 45℉ and above
  • Planting whole seed potatoes for easiest route to more potatoes
  • Requires the most nutrient rich soil of any crop – recommend Trifecta Plus
  • Plant in 4″ deep in 2″ deep trenches (~6″ total), in rows approx 20″ apart 
    • E.g., 4’x12′ raised bed: 5 potatoes per row x 7 rows = 30 seed potatoes 

Cover Photo by Stephen Morris of Oklahoma


 

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