Wondering how to grow potatoes in a container garden? Last year I experimented by planting a single seed potato in a 10 gallon (40 quart) tub. We had used the tub several years earlier as part of a container gardening when our garden space was limited to the back patio.
We drilled drainage holes in the bottom and later drilled a few more holes about two inches above the bottom all the way around the tub. I filled the bottom of the tub with about two inches of gravel and added a bag (1 cubic foot) of compost.
Normally, I wouldn’t advise using a fresh bag of compost as the only soil for any container, because these bags are usually not yet completely composted and need more time to break down. But I had an extra bag of compost sitting around and this was just an experiment anyway, so I used it.
I planted one small-medium sized seed potato, about the size of a tennis ball. I put the container out of the way in the back yard where our old compost pile had been. We live in a very dry area, so I connected some drip-line so the container would be watered and walked away leaving the potato to live or die.
After the potato sprouted, I checked on it occasionally. On one occasion, it was seriously over watered because the drain holes were blocked, so I drained most of the water, cleared the blocked holes and removed the drip line for a few days to let the soil dry. On another occasion, the drip line was not delivering enough water and the potato plant was seriously wilted. I watered the plant and removed the blockage from the drip line.
Other than that, I pulled weeds a few times, then covered the soil under the potato with straw. I also pulled some tall grass from around the tub that was shading the potato plant. I never sprayed the potato with any pesticide or herbicide. I remember chasing away a few grasshoppers, but that was it.
When I decided it was time to harvest, I pulled the entire plant up and washed off the dirt to get a photo of the root system and potatoes.
This was not a bad harvest from a semi-neglected potato that was grown in questionable soil. There was one giant potato, four were normal sized for red potatoes (about the size of the seed potato) and two very small potatoes and one little potato button.
Potato yields normally run between 8 – 15 lbs of potatoes harvested for every pound of seed planted. I didn’t weight the seed potato before or the harvested potatoes later, but it looks like about an 8:1 harvest.
So next time you find a potato that is sprouting in your bag of potato’s, instead of throwing it away, plant it and see what happens. You might get 10-15 fresh new potatoes from a potato you would normally throw away.
Hint: Don’t throw away food scraps, compost them.
You may also want to read our post on how to grow potatoes in your raised bed garden or just in soil or straw.
Have you done any container gardening or grown potatoes? What has worked best for you?