Potatoes are a staple in most homes, but they can be expensive if you don’t find the “right” sale. Luckily, potatoes are super easy to grow at home, so you can avoid the cost of buying them. There are several different varieties of potatoes and they are all grown pretty much the same way. If you don’t have room for a garden, they are the perfect crop for you! They are easy to grow and with an abundance of harvest, potatoes are one of the top veggies to grow, even if you don’t have a regular garden. All they need is regular watering, full exposure to sunlight and loose but fertile soil. So let’s learn about growing potatoes in both big and small spaces!
Planting Potatoes the Right Way
The best time to plant potatoes is a couple of weeks after the last frost- this can help ensure that the plant doesn’t get ruined by the wet soil. The process of planting potatoes is also pretty easy. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.
One of the best ways to grow potatoes is in trenches. Just dig a shallow trench around 6 inches deep, and mix in some compost or rotted manure before you begin planting.
- Potatoes grow best in rows. Make sure you space them 2-3 feet apart.
- Place the potato seed with its cut side down into the ground once every 14 inches or so, and then cover it up with 3-4 inches of soil.
- Around 15 days after you plant the potatoes, you will notice sprouts to start appearing. At this point, you have to begin with the process of hilling- covering the plant with some soil and leaving only a small area of it exposed into the sun.
Hilling helps ensure that the plant is protected from sunlight, since exposure to sunlight at that state tends to make the potatoes green and even toxic.
How to properly care for the growing potato plant
Now that you’re done planting potatoes, you need to keep in mind a few tips to care for the plant.
Potatoes usually don’t like soil that is very rich. In fact, if the soil has just a modest amount of organic matter and has neutral to acidic pH, they are happy.
They do need to have a steady water supply. Remember to water them at least 1 inch every week.
If you have enough space, plant the potatoes two feet apart from each other so that it becomes easy for you to weed around them.
Hilling is an essential part of growing potatoes, and the best time to do it is in the morning.
Related: Garden Tips and Tricks
What every new gardener needs to know about harvesting & storing potatoes
When it comes to harvesting potatoes, you can expect to wait between 2-4 months post planting- that’s when they actually reach their full size. You can also harvest the small immature potatoes from the ground when the plant reaches around a foot in height.
You can make use of a shovel or your hand to harvest the potatoes- just remove the soil from the hill and you’ll be able to spot the treasure!
Make sure you never store your potatoes in the refrigerator. Freshly dug potatoes can be stored in a cool and dry place for upto 2 weeks.
How to grow potatoes in bucket or a barrel
It’s very simple to learn how to grow potatoes in a barrel without needing a lot of extra space. Or if needed, you could even do it in several food grade ten gallon buckets.
Potatoes are a root plant which means they grow underground. They are also one of the many plants that can be regrown from scraps. This is a good thing for you if you’re trying to learn how to grow potatoes in a barrel. It makes them easy to start and easy to care for.
When you’re looking for something to grow your potatoes in, you can use a barrel, unused trash can or any type of bin that is deep enough to hold your potting soil and plants. If you are planning to use a trash can, be sure it is one that has never been used and if you’re really picky, like we are, think about choosing either food grade plastic, metal, or something that doesn’t have as many chemicals that could leech into your food.
Whether you’re using wood or plastic for a barrel you’ll have to be sure it is food grade. This it not just because of the chemicals in the barrel itself, but because many used barrels could have had a previous life housing a whole range of chemical liquids or other undesirable non-food items.
The first thing you will need to do is prepare your bins and your seed potatoes.
You will need two to make growing potatoes in a barrel easy on yourself. Make sure one fits inside of the other. Wash and dry each bin thoroughly with white vinegar and water then cut or drill large holes into the smaller container. This will make things much easier on yourself later. You may also want to drill a few drain holes in the larger container as well to help with drainage, but this is not necessary.
To prepare your potatoes, allow a few to grow “eyes” in your pantry.
These are the tan color roots that potatoes get when they are growing old. You will most likely find that your potatoes sprout more than one eye per potato. That is okay. Once you have a few solid eyes growing on your potatoes, cut each potato so each eye has a small piece of potato left on it. You may decide to quarter your potatoes or simply cut each individual eye.
Next, place your inner container inside of the larger one and fill it approximately one-fourth full of potting soil or dirt.
Add a few of your potato scraps to the top of your soil making sure to leave enough room for each one to sprout and grow. If you plant them too closely together, you will suffocate them. Once you have them seated a bit, add another layer of soil.
Repeat the process of adding more soil and more seed potatoes until you reach the top of your bin.
Make certain you end on a soil layer and that you don’t plant your top layer of seeds too closely to the top of the bin. As I mentioned earlier, potatoes are root plants, so they need to be planted under dirt.
Water your bin until your soil is wet.
If your area gets a lot of rain, you should not need to water it again. If not, water it whenever you notice the soil getting dry. Potatoes take a while to grow so you will want to leave them be for around three months. At this point, check your top layer to see how well they are growing. If they are large enough, simply lift the smaller container out of the larger to harvest. If you drilled your holes large enough, your soil should simply fall away allowing you to only harvest potatoes!