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Whether baked, julienned for French Fries, mashed, or shredded for hash browns, we all love our potatoes. The problem is the pesticides they spray our veggies with to keep the bugs away, and the fact that you have to anti-up your first born to buy them organically in the stores or at the farmer’s market. Planting seed potatoes in containers in your own home is the answer to this challenge! Let’s check out how to do it.
First, you need a seed…
…Or a seed potato (also called a start) in this case. If you have been buying organic potatoes at the market, you can use those, as they haven’t been treated for sterility or not to sprout. If you don’t have organic potatoes, you can buy a seed potato at feed stores or online. I buy my seed potatoes from the local farmer’s market. (Update: Now that I am in Northern FL, where everybody has a garden, I can even buy seed potatoes at the local hardware store – from a local grower! So fun!!)
Plant Seed Potatoes in Containers
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Potatoes grow under the ground off of the root system they create.
Window boxes are wide, but the depth isn’t really there either. I am not saying you can’t grow potatoes in them. They will still yield that wonderful veggie that goes great with everything, but to grow enough potatoes, the deeper your container the more you will produce.
In actuality, I have seen potatoes grown in everything from 5-gallon paint buckets, to storage totes to trash cans so let your imagination go wild here!
You Need Drainage
If you use a container, drill holes on each of the corners of the container and about six evenly spread out on the bottom. This will provide the proper soil drainage.
Prepping Your Seed Potato
See the little dents in the potato with white stalk-like material growing out of them? You know, the pain in the behind part to peel when you’re getting ready to make potato salad? Those are eyes. When you cut your potato, you need to make sure you have at least three eyes per chunk. Leave the newly cut potato out overnight to prep it for planting.
Potatoes can handle early to mid-spring cool weather. They can also handle the heat. This means, if you time your planting of potatoes in containers correctly, you will have ample to last you until the next year.
The next day, add about three inches of organic soil in your container and place the potatoes skin side up in the soil. Sprinkle some fertilizer on the soil around the potatoes; about a handful should do it. Or, 1/3 compost to 2/3 soil ratio also works (and my preferred method) Cover your “seeds” with enough soil so you can’t see them. Moisten the soil.
Keep your potatoes in full sun and make sure the soil stays moist. When you begin to see vines sprouting and they are about two to three inches above the soil, sprinkle your fertilizer (or mulch) and cover your vines with soil until you can just see about two inches of the leaves. Repeat this process until the container is full of soil.
Are we there yet?
Your potatoes will be ready for harvesting when the leaves on the vines turn brown (it almost will look like your potatoes died). This means you’re ready to dump your container and start sorting through the dirt to find your potatoes. Your container should be full of big, beautiful, and edible potatoes!
Final words of wisdom
Keep a couple to the side in a cool, dark place in your home so you have seed potatoes for your next harvest. If you need exact temps, look up root cellars and those articles should give you ideas on how to customize your own home to store potatoes.
You can grow sweet potatoes in containers as well as any root vegetable related to potatoes. There are a myriad of potato species out there. Don’t limit yourself to just a few. Many heirloom potatoes are even different colors. When shopping online for seed potatoes, be leery of GMO seeds.
I hope this guide has gotten you started on the right path toward planting seed potatoes in containers. Don’t forget to check out our other blog post on everything you need to know on container gardening. There are always creative ways to grow things in limited space. After all, you’re trying to eat healthy and take of yourself. You don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to do it!