Growing Potatoes in Grow Bags or Containers: A Comprehensive Guide
Introduction to Growing Potatoes in Containers
Growing potatoes in grow bags or containers has become a popular method for gardeners and homeowners alike. This method provides an efficient and space-saving way to cultivate delicious potatoes in a controlled environment. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various aspects of growing potatoes in containers, including the benefits, choosing the right grow bags and containers, soil mix, planting, care, and harvesting.
Benefits of Growing Potatoes in Grow Bags or Containers
There are several advantages to growing potatoes in grow bags or containers, some of which include the following:
Space-saving: Containers are perfect for small spaces such as balconies, patios, and urban gardens.
Controlled environment: Containers provide better control over soil quality, moisture, and pests.
Ease of harvest: Potatoes grown in containers can be easily harvested without damaging the plant or tubers.
Reduced risk of disease: Containers minimize the chances of soil-borne diseases and pests affecting the potato crop.
Choosing the Right Grow Bags or Containers
Selecting an appropriate container is crucial for the success of your potato crop. Here are some factors to consider:
Size: Choose a container with a minimum depth of 12-18 inches and a diameter of 16-24 inches to accommodate the growing tubers.
The number of potato plants you can grow in different-sized grow bags depends on the container size and the space each plant requires. You should provide 6-8 inches of space between each plant to ensure optimal growth. Here is a guideline for planting potatoes in 5, 10, 15, and 30-gallon grow bags:
5-gallon grow bag: You can plant 1-2 potato plants in a 5-gallon grow bag. This size is suitable for smaller or dwarf potato varieties.
10-gallon grow bag: In a 10-gallon grow bag, you can plant 2-3 potato plants. This size provides ample space for the plants to grow and produce a decent harvest.
15-gallon grow bag: A 15-gallon grow bag can accommodate 3-5 potato plants. This size offers enough space for most potato varieties to grow and develop a good root system.
30-gallon grow bag: In a 30-gallon grow bag, you can plant 6-8 potato plants. This larger size is ideal for growing several plants or larger potato varieties that require more space to develop.
Remember, these are general guidelines, and the number of plants you can grow in each grow bag might vary depending on the specific potato variety and growing conditions. It’s essential to provide enough space for each plant to ensure proper growth and a bountiful harvest.
Material: Grow bags made of breathable fabric, such as felt or geotextile, are ideal for promoting healthy root growth and preventing overwatering. Plastic or ceramic containers with drainage holes can also be used.
Colour: Dark-colored containers help absorb and retain heat, which is beneficial for growing potatoes.
One of the larger bags I use in 20-gallon and 30-gallon sizes. (Linked below)
The Perfect Soil Mix for Container-Grown Potatoes
A well-draining, nutrient-rich soil mix is essential for growing potatoes in containers. Consider the following components for your soil mix:
Garden soil or potting mix: Use a high-quality, well-draining garden soil or potting mix as the base for your container.
Compost: Enrich the soil with well-rotted compost to provide essential nutrients and improve soil structure.
Perlite or vermiculite: Add perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage and aeration in the soil.
Tip: After trying for a decade to make the “50lb pot of potatoes you see people promoting everywhere and failing in every method, the truth is simple. Potatoes DO NOT grow potatoes over the entire length of a buried stem. They do grow in a small area but never along the whole stem. So endless burying of a single potato plant will never work.
What does work is planting potatoes on a few levels as you “fill” the pot. This will make the pot appear full of potatoes, but there are multiple plants at different depths in the pot.
I will put 2 or 3 potatoes 10 inches from the bottom, then as then another layer 6-10 inches above that and if the pot is deep enough, another one above that. You will always need to have over 10 inches at the top to keep the potatoes from sunscalding.
Planting Potatoes in Grow Bags or Containers
Follow these steps to plant your potatoes in containers:
Select seed potatoes: Choose certified disease-free seed potatoes from a reputable supplier. You can also use store-bought potatoes that have sprouted eyes.
Chit the seed potatoes: Allow them to sprout by placing them in a cool, well-lit area for 2-4 weeks before planting.
Prepare the container: Fill the container with 4-6 inches of the prepared soil mix.
Plant the seed potatoes: Place the seed potatoes with the sprouts facing upwards, spaced 6-8 inches apart. Cover them with 3-4 inches of soil mix.
Water: Water the soil thoroughly, ensuring it is moist but not waterlogged.
Caring for Your Container-Grown Potatoes
Proper care is vital for a bountiful potato harvest. Follow these tips to ensure a healthy crop:
Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but avoid overwatering, which can lead to rot.
Feeding: Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks to provide essential nutrients.
Hilling: As the potato plants grow, add more soil mix around the stems to encourage tuber formation and prevent exposure to sunlight.
Harvesting Potatoes Grown in Grow Bags or Containers
Harvesting your container-grown potatoes is a rewarding experience. Follow these steps for a successful harvest:
Determine when to harvest: Potatoes are ready to harvest when the plants begin to yellow and die back, typically 10-12 weeks after planting. You can harvest new potatoes a few weeks earlier when the plants are still flowering.
Stop watering: Cease watering the plants one week before harvest to allow the soil to dry out, making it easier to remove the potatoes.
Remove the plants: Cut the potato plants at the soil level and discard them.
Harvest the potatoes: Gently dig through the soil with your hands or a trowel, being careful not to damage the tubers. For grow bags, you can tip the bag onto a tarp or large surface and sort through the soil to find the potatoes.
Cure the potatoes: Allow the harvested potatoes to air dry in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area for 1-2 weeks to toughen the skin and improve storage life.
Common Problems and Solutions for Growing Potatoes in Containers
Growing potatoes in containers is generally easier than in-ground cultivation, but there are still some potential issues to watch out for:
Pest control: Aphids, slugs, and wireworms can be problematic for container-grown potatoes. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation and use organic or chemical controls as needed.
Diseases: Blight, scab, and rot are common diseases affecting potatoes. Proper watering, sanitation, and crop rotation can help minimize the risk of these diseases.
Sunscald: Exposed tubers can develop green patches, which are toxic. Ensure proper hilling to prevent sun exposure and subsequent sunscald.
Growing potatoes in grow bags or containers is a practical and enjoyable way to cultivate fresh, delicious potatoes. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can successfully grow a bountiful harvest of potatoes in your own backyard or small urban garden. Then, carefully selecting the right containers, soil mix, planting, and care, you can enjoy the satisfaction of harvesting and eating your homegrown potatoes.
Seeds and planting
Links and Resources
(These are some of what I use)
mybackyard.ca Seeds Page
Get a Head Start on Spring: The Benefits of Starting Your Seeds Indoors
Saving Vegetable Seeds: A Comprehensive Guide to Gardening Success
myBackyard.ca Planting Guide
Pollock Tomatoes (North hardy Tomato variety)
Tomatoes (Useful information on starting tomatoes from seed)
Individual seed and plant information is available in the "Gardening Shortcut Links" above under "North Hardy Plants to grow". I have successfully grown all of these, and most I grow year to year.
myBackyard is for recreational purposes only. Plants, mushrooms and berries cannot be 100% identified through this website alone. It is up to the reader to properly identify plants, fungi and trees. Some wild plants, berries and mushrooms are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. Even those listed as edible may cause adverse reactions in individuals.
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