Sunday, April 23, 2017

Growing Potatoes in Buckets

Growing potatoes is super easy, so if you've never tried, I highly recommend it. Even if you don't have garden space, you can get a great yield by planting in buckets or bags.  And I have a secret to share, you can get an even better yield by using this method of growing potatoes. 

Potato plants do have seeds, but the plants are not grown from seed. Examine your potatoes and check for where the eyes are. When you cut your potatoes into pieces, you'll want to be sure that each piece has at least one eye. 

Place your cut potatoes on a few sheets of paper towel and be sure that the juicy sides are facing up.  Now, let them sit out for at least 24 hours (or longer).  These potatoes, by the way, are called Magic Molly. They are purple, as you can see.  They taste just like regular potatoes, but have a beautiful color (even after cooking) and they are loaded with antioxidants... just like blueberries.

I let these sit out for a day and half. The cut sides have now formed a leathery skin. You'll want yours to sit out long enough for this leathery skin to form in order to protect them from rotting and pests. Now, they're ready to plant!

One way to plant your potatoes is in plastic buckets. Some of mine are plastic laundry baskets I got from Wal-Mart. I just drilled holes for drainage.

I also got these cool things I got from Amazon. These are bags, specifically made for growing potatoes. This particular bag comes in a set of two.

Near the bottom of the bag is a little door. Since the potatoes at the bottom will be ready sooner, you can simply reach inside to harvest them before the others are ready.

Put a couple of inches of soil in each bag or bucket.  Then place a couple of potato pieces in the soil.  Be sure an eye is facing up.  Cover the pieces with another inch or so of soil and give them a good drink of water.

And that's it!  Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. When the plants grow, keep an eye on them.  When plants are about two inches high, cover them (not completely) with more soil.  When they grow a few inches more, cover them with more soil, each time leaving just a little bit of the plant showing.

Why do this, you might ask?  Here's the science behind it. When a potato plant grows, it sends out little runners, called stolons, just below the surface of the soil. A potato is formed at the end of each stolon. Each time you add more soil, the plant sends out more stolons below the surface. By the time the soil reaches the top of the bucket or bag, there will be layers and layers of potatoes growing inside. That means you get a whole BUNCH of potatoes when the time comes to harvest.  

I'll be back later in the summer to show you how the plants are growing!

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