June 1, 2019

Potted Potato Harvest

The potatoes I planted in pots a couple months ago were dying because of blight. So I harvested all but the healthiest one.

The harvest from six seed potatoes.

It was a modest harvest. Even so, I figure I tripled my planting investment. For six potatoes that isn't much, but from all the teeny baby potatoes, I figure I would have gotten more if the plants had been able to mature on their own.

I'm thinking potato salad.

As an experiment, though, I was pleased. Planting in pots was very easy, as was the harvest. No digging! All I had to do was dump out the contents in the wheelbarrow. The hardest part was remembering to keep the pots watered. I will definitely plant potatoes this way again!

I know a number of you plant potatoes in containers; what kind of containers do you use? Any tips?

Potted Potato Harvest © June 2019

29 comments:

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

When I planted potatoes a few years ago, it was a spur of the moment thing when I found three (what may have been Yukon gold) potatoes that I had forgotten about that had sprouted beautifully.

I planted them in a large styrofoam cooler that I poked holes into for drainage. I didn't know for at least two months that I was supposed to hill my potatoes and add soil as they grew taller. Then I started hilling them but my container needed to be a much taller than I had used. Those potatoes grew really well. I planted them as 3 whole sprouted potatoes, didn't have a tall enough container to add a lot of extra soil to, forgot to water them sometimes during a very hot summer, and yet they grew like crazy and generously filled the container with small and also 3 or 4 normal sized potatoes. In addition to all of that, they had the prettiest colored pale purple blossoms on them. I could have had them in a flower garden. I wish I knew the actual variety they were. It was fun dumping out the container and seeing what kind of treasure it held. Easy and definitely worth everyone giving potato growing a try. Those mostly little potatoes were absolutely delicious, too! Much better than the ones from the stores.

SJ said...

I've found large burlap bags to work better for me than regular pots. My favorite way to plant, though, is using potato towers. I use a large piece of chicken wire rolled into a cylinder. Line along the bottom and sides with straw and fill layers on the inside alternating between straw and soil. At the end of the season I can just unhook the chicken wire, root out the potatoes and I have a nicely enriched compost material from the breakdown of the straw. I'll also admit I find the towers themselves to be quite pretty to look at throughout the season :)

wyomingheart said...

We planted blueberries this spring, and the 5 gallon buckets they were in had 4 big holes in the bottom, which rendered them useless to use for anything else, but planting... so there were our tater buckets... so far, they are growing great. I don't know how successful we will be, but knock wood that we have a better harvest than last year, which wasn't enough to make up potato salad. I think that bucket you harvested has a destiny of potato salad for sure!

Mama Pea said...

A small harvest, perhaps, but good looking never the less! I've never planted taters in containers so can't offer any input along those lines. I do admire how clean and blemish-free yours look!

Rain said...

Hi Leigh :) Nice harvest! Yeah, it's a wee one, but still, new potatoes are so yummy and I concur with the potato salad!!! As you know, I planted in tires last summer, but honestly it's a LOT of work to harvest them. I had to move the tires to get at the potatoes and they were heavy with the soil. In a way I'm glad we got them to the recycling plant over the winter now...I'm doing a much smaller potato planting venture, two big black garbage bins (drilled holes in the bottom) and one potato bag that I got from a friend. I only watered them when they seemed to need water (when the soil looked really dry), otherwise honestly, I ignored them until August (or September, can't remember off hand)..maybe they need a bigger space to grow? I don't know why you had blight though.

Some of my taters last year developed scar-type blemishes on them, but Mama Pea told me they would be just fine and they were. I don't know if it was blight or not, but they were delicious, I just peeled off the offensive looking skins!

Look at me, giving you gardening advice lol...Bizarro world ha ha! ;)

Leigh said...

Susie, the hilling part is one of the reasons I've found I like the container method. Plant in the bottom of the bucket and keep filling as the plants grow! Your experience makes me think that with larger containers (and healthier plants) I could do much better.

SJ, interesting about the towers! Also the burlap bags. It's good to know that some of the layers can be straw too. Thanks!

Wyomingheart, I hope your harvest is an encouraging as mine has been. Not a lot, but enough! We've not had much success growing them in the garden since our first year, so if this alternative works, it's a keeper.

Mama Pea, they are clean! And I haven't even washed them yet. I guess that's because the soil in the pots had plenty of organic matter, which kept it loose and well draining.

Leigh said...

Hi Rain, your advice is welcome! Experience is a great thing. :) I knew someone planted potatoes in tires but I couldn't remember who! I'm glad to know what problems you had so I won't decide to go that route. I'm guessing that the larger the container, the larger the harvest.

I have a lot of trouble with blight: potatoes, tomatoes, fruit trees. I think it's just a problem in southern gardening. I've found that my tomatoes recover when the late summer heat wave is done, and I save seeds from the healthiest plants in hopes of eventually getting a fairly resistant strain. For potatoes, though, all I can do is discard the infected vines. Ditto for infected branches on fruit trees.

Ed said...

I've always thought potatoes were one of the most satisfying crops to plant and harvest.

I haven't done pots per se but we do have a deck planter which is essentially a really large pot. I like it just because I don't even have to put on shoes to go get a handful of herbs. And yes, watering it is a chore since it dries out so fast.

Kristina said...

I plan to plant some sweet potatoes that way, but need to get my dirt yet.

Powell River Books said...

I've grown potatoes in half 55-gallon plastic food grade barrels for about fifteen years. I always get a good crop. You are right, consistent watering is the key to a large crop of large potatoes. I used to grow potatoes on shore up on the cliff. It was hard to get up there to water so my crop was smaller and the size smaller as well. I save the best small potatoes to be my seed potatoes the following year. I've grown Norland Red and Yukon Gold but found that the Golds stored better through winter so moved exclusively to them. This year I'm not growing potatoes at all. Decided to take a year off from gardening. - Margy

imsovintage said...

There is a guy on Youtube that lines his pots with trash bags and as the potatoes grow he will pull the bag up, take out the largest potatoes and then put it back in the pot to let the smaller ones get a little larger. I'm trying that this year to see if I have the same results but I haven't looked yet.

Jeff Anthony said...

Not sure if this is true, but an old timer friend of mine said he used to use old tires. He'd plant the seed potato in a tire on the ground, then add soil and other tires as it grew. When it got to around 6 or 7 tires hight, then all he had to do is knock over the tire tower and that is how he harvested. Not sure if he's pulling my leg or not, but it sounds possible... thoughts?

Leigh said...

Ed, that's what I need - bigger pots!

Kristina, I'll be really interested in how that works for sweet potatoes! They grow well here for us, but it can be a chore to dig them if the ground is dry and hard. The container method is a much easier harvest method.

Margy, I'm really happy to hear that you save your own potatoes for seed. Seed potatoes are so expensive to buy, and if they don't do well it feels like a real waste. Storage counts for a lot too. If I have good luck with my Russets, I'll have to do a storage trial to see which kind keeps the best.

imsovintage, that's a good idea! I don't see that you have a blog, but I'd be interested in the results!

Jeff, that's a lot of tires! Seems a good use for old tires, though and one could certainly grow a lot of potatoes. I should probably give that method a try too.

Tanza Erlambang said...

Your potatoes look great.....
I love baked potatoes...

Fiona said...

We had great success with 5 gallon food grade buckets. We used that approach when we were in Virginia. Any odd spare bit of space had a bucket with 'taters' on it. I did a blog post about it in Confessions of a Crazed Cattlewoman. There are mineral lick tubs that cattle mineral comes in that would work if you can find them. Those potatoes are so pretty, we are enjoying new Potatoes here.

Rose said...

That is interesting to hear...tempting to put in a couple pots of potatoes!

Leigh said...

Tanza Erlambang, me too!

Fiona, I will have to look up that blog post. Nice to fill spaces with something tasty! I've seen those mineral tubs - maybe I can find some used ones some place. They look like they'd hold a lot!

Rose, go for it! lol. Very easy to do and potato plants are really quite pretty.

Woolly Bits said...

I put spuds into every larger pot I can find! I thought the shop bought woven "growbags" would be perfect, but it turns out that they only last one year. the light damage is already bad in the 2nd year, they won't last a third, so I won't buy those anymore. but with all bigger containers I only put a layer of soil into the bottom, add the potatoes and as soon as they sprout I add more soil until the container is full. works well for me and I don't have to do a very large bed all at once! I can even carry them into tunnel or greenhouse if the weather goes very bad later in the year.

Susan said...

I've grown potatoes in grow bags (a sort of felted material), feed bags, plastic containers, straw, and in tires. I have had the best luck in tires, of all things. This could possibly be because they attract heat and hold in moisture.

kay saylor said...

I have been planting potatoes in large rings made from some old wire fencing for years. They work great. Many times I put them in an area where I want a new bed (cardboard underneath if grassy) or need to revive an older raised bed. They are easy to add straw or soil to as they grow. When they are ready to harvest I just pull the ring off and spread out the soil as I pull out the potatoes. No hard digging required as everything is above ground level and loose.

Leigh said...

Bettina, I'm now thinking I should just keep planting potatoes! I really like the idea of being able to put them in a greenhouse or tunnel. That could prove very useful!

Susan, that's interesting about the tires. Seems quite a few people like them. I didn't realize that about the moisture. Of course, the heat thing could spell problems for me in the hot, muggy south.

Kay, that's a great idea. I especially like that you use them over your garden beds. The no hard digging part is really the best incentive. :)

Renee Nefe said...

I tried growing potatoes in some old plastic tote bins that I had bought and put holes in to use as planters... they did great for a while and died. I dug up a few potatoes (maybe 5?) I was really disappointed. oh here comes the hail again. sigh

Leigh said...

Renee, oh no, more hail? How annoying.

I'm the last person to analyze potato growing. We did great our first year and have barely harvested as many as I planted since. I'd give up for a number of years, but am hopeful with my first container results.

Henny Penny said...

The red potatoes are so pretty. I planted a half row back when we were getting too much rain. Dan said the potatoes would rot in the ground. The plants are big and pretty but I haven't dug any of the potatoes yes. May do that today. I love small new potatoes cooked on top of fresh green beans...and a little fatback grease. :) Maybe I should try growing them in a container.

Leigh said...

Henny, I love new potatoes and green beans! For growing, the containers are really a great way to go for potatoes. You can easily harvest at any stage. :)

Quinn said...

I'm reading all the comments with interest, as I am getting ready to plant sweet potatoes for the first time - still waiting for the soil to get warn enough! I'm all about the raised beds, but just getting enough soil to do the "raising" is tough, which is the same thing with containers. Even using straw or other plant material as a filler still leaves a lot of room that needs to be filled with actual soil. I've got 12 slips, so maybe I'll try a few different places and methods.

Leigh said...

Quinn, we had the same problem, which is why we don't have raised beds either. That's actually worked out better than I thought though. For us at least, since we are so far south. Raised beds tend to dry out faster than ground level beds here, so just boxing the beds has worked find.

I hope you blog about your sweet potato experiments. I'd be very interested in what you try and what you learn.

Chris said...

Never had luck with starch potatoes - even in containers. Only sweet potatoes seem to cope with the climate and pests. But great experiment in the wheelbarrow, and hope you have even more success. I suspect I may have planted my starch potatoes at the wrong time of year, which is why they get inundated with pests. So I may have to experiment a little more. I was thinking, maybe an autumn thing. I generally try and start them in spring.

Leigh said...

You and I have similar growing conditions, Chris, so I'm not surprised that you have challenges too. But then, nothing likes extremely hot weather!