We are always happy to answer our readers’ questions and today we are going to get another one of your questions answered.
It doesn’t matter if you have a small apartment or a large yard, you can always cut your grocery list down by learning to grow your own.
Growing your own potatoes is a great way to learn to grow your own vegetables and do so with very little expense.
Traditionally potatoes would be grown in the ground in a hill but you can just as easily grow them at home.
To Successfully grow potatoes, you must have the following:
- Seed potatoes (at least 5 per container)
- Space to grow them
- Shredded paper or newspaper
- Potting soil
- Sterilized manure (optional)
- Mulch or compost
- 6+ hours of direct sunlight per day
- Harvest time = 2 to 4 months
- Pick out new potatoes when foliage is about 1 foot high
How to Successfully Grow Potatoes in a Bucket
For those that don’t have the space required to grow their potatoes in the ground, you have a solution. As long as a few basic rules are followed, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
A couple of words of warning:
- Make sure that you match the number of seed potatoes to the size of container you are growing them in.
- Make sure that you remember to drill drainage holes in the bottom of your buckets.
- Make sure that you keep your potatoes well watered. Be on hand to water plants as they grow and particularly once the foliage has filled out.
When purchasing your seed potatoes, you should leave it to the last minute as possible.
We first need to do what is known as ‘chitting’. Basically, we need to allow them to sprout first. Start off by laying out your tubers with the ‘eyes’ facing upwards. Place them into a supportive container such as an egg box and keep them in a light but relatively cool place to produce stubby, dark green shoots.
Place some additional drainage material such as crocks or broken up polystyrene to the base of your container then fill with about 10cm (4in) of your growing medium. Try to space out your seed potatoes evenly throughout the container.
Add another 10cm (4in) of your growing medium. You will need to keep an eye on your grow and continue to add further layers of potting medium until you reach within a whisker of the rim of the container.
When to Harvest Your Potatoes
You are going to get a little dirty but at least you can sit down to some homegrown potatoes. The first tubers will be ready to enjoy soon after plants come into flower. Feel for the tubers, pulling free any that have reached the size of a hen’s.
- Place your potatoes at room temperature for around a day to leave them to cure. For larger potatoes, cut into pieces so that only 2-3 “eyes” remain per piece.
- Use an old bucket or a drum. It doesn’t have to be new. It should have a lid or makeshift cover. The lid probably won’t be needed but can be used to protect the plants from any frost.
- Drill holes in the bottom of the container and along the sides 3-6 inches from the bottom every few inches to promote drainage.
- Add broken up polystyrene or shredded paper to the bottom of your container.
- Mix potting soil, manure and mulch in a proportion to give you 1/2 potting soil, 1/4 manure and mulch each. Mix in a wheelbarrow or in a large trashcan.
- Add about 10 inches of your potting soil mix. Now plant your potatoes – about 5 inches apart and 4 inches deep. They need to be under the soil to start sending out their vines.
- Water but not too much. You need them to be moist but not soggy.
- The ideal temperature for your potatoes to grow is at around 60 degrees.
- Once the plants are between 6-8 inches, add another layer of your soil mixture being careful to leave leaves/top of plant exposed. Keep adding more soil as the plants poke through.
Your potatoes will flower and have berries on them. Then the entire plant will die off, turn brown and wither. Once the plant dies off, it is time to harvest your potatoes.