Have limited space? Trying to save some money? Why not try going a bunch of potatoes? It’s not that hard to grow a hundred pounds of potatoes, and once you read the steps, you’ll be surprised just how easy it is.
Growing potatoes in a barrel (or bucket) prevents having to dig them up during harvest (which can damage the delicate potatoes) – instead, all you have to do is tip over the container and voila!
People often look down on potatoes for not being all that healthy, but when you get your hands on some good-quality, organic potatoes, you’ll be surprised by the benefits your body receives. Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin B6, as well as potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorous, niacin, dietary finer and pantothenic acid. They also contain a hefty amount of antioxidants, which protects the body against various forms of disease.
Potatoes have the potential to help lower blood pressure, and because of their vitamin B6 content, help nourish the nervous system and brain, and also help aid in the formation of virtually all the new cells in your body. B6 provides cardiovascular protection, too, and is necessary for the breakdown of glycogen, making it great for anyone involved in exercise of any type.
How to Grow A Hundred Pounds of Potatoes in a Barrel
1. Select a good container
Picking a good container is important for growing a large concentration of potatoes in a small space. Half whiskey barrel planters work really well, but people have also had success with food-grade barrels or commercially available potato planters. Just make sure it is about 2-3 feet tall, and that it has holes in it, or would be okay to cut holes in it. Clean your container really well with a solution of vinegar and water – you don’t want to use bleach, because that could be absorbed by the potato roots.
If your container does not already have holes in it, cut or drill large drainage holes in the bottom and sides of your container. If you want a healthy, and hearty potato harvest, you’ll want these drainage holes. If you’re growing indoors, make sure you have a large enough tray with edges to put underneath your container. This way, water won’t get everywhere.
2. Planting the potatoes – choose variety!
You can find seed potatoes in nurseries, which is probably the best way to buy them (and you will only have to buy them once). This way you can choose from a variety of heritage potatoes, and also grow a variety of different colours.
Sprout your potatoes before planting them. Set them out in an egg carton, with the side that has the most sprouts, facing up. Put them in a cool room with indirect sunlight, and they’ll start to sprout after a couple days. Alternatively, you can place your potatoes in an open brown paper bag – they will sprout this way too!.
Fill in 6 inches of your container with an organic soil-compost mix. Peat moss and soil combined is a really great mix to use. It will keep the soil from becoming too compact, and will allow for optimal moisture storage for the roots. Add your sprouted potatoes (sprouts UP!) on the layer of soil, leaving around 4 inches between each potato sprout. If you’re using whole potatoes, cut into 1-2 inch cubes for planting (of course, cut the potato so that each cube as a sprout). Loosely cover the potatoes with another 6 inches of soil and compost, and water to dampen (but not soak) the potatoes. Always make sure the soil is damp, but never over-watered.
3. Add more soil
Once your potatoes have started growing (about 6-8 inches of foliage), add another layer of soil-compost mix. You want to cover 1/2-3/4 of the visible stems and foliage. Continue repeating this process, allowing new sprouts to grow, covering the sprouts, and watering the soil as the plants grow higher and higher up the barrel.
Once the fresh greens on top start to look yellow and dull (around 10 weeks or so), the potatoes are ready to harvest. Inspect the top soil layer by carefully digging down with your hands to ensure your intuition is right! Once potatoes have been confirmed, dump the barrel, or bucket, on a large sheet of plastic, like a tarp. Surprise! Look at all your potatoes!
Thanks for the help from Green Upgrader – I successfully grew my own potatoes this summer in a large barrel with great success!