Potatoes are adaptable veggies that can grow in any growing medium. The recommended medium for growing potatoes is containers. Growing potatoes in containers is easy, rewarding and most of all it will allow you to overcome the space problem since you can place the container anywhere you want. Moreover, container potatoes are fresher and tastier than supermarket potatoes. They are distinguished by their sweet and nutty flavor. They are also healthier since they are richer in nutrients and proteins. If you want to learn how to grow potatoes in containers, read the below steps.
Buy seed potatoes
A seed potato is any potato that can be replanted to grow potato plant. They are available in nursery stores and online. Although supermarket potatoes can also grow, it is advisable that you purchase seed potatoes since they are disease-free and produce good quality potatoes.
However, if you can’t find any seed potatoes, you can use supermarket potatoes. But, you should make sure that the supermarket potatoes that you have bought are not treated with sprout inhibitors to prevent the emergence of sprouts.
Whether you bought seed potatoes or supermarket potatoes, you should make sure to choose the healthiest potatoes to grow. Don’t use any potatoes that have signs of bruises or rots. Once you have chosen the potatoes to grow, put them in a dark cool environment until they develop eye buds. This may take a few days. When you see the buds, you can start planting your potatoes.
You should plant only the potatoes that have 2 to 3 eye buds. If a potato has more than 3 buds, you can cut the rest of the buds and leave only the 3 strong ones.
2. Cutting the potatoes
This is not an essential step but it will allow you to have more plants. Before planting the potato seeds, make sure to cut the large ones that have more than 4 eye buds into two halves. Each half should contain 2 eye buds. Leave them to dry for a couple days then you can plant them. If you plant them before the cut heals, this will lead to potato rot. For the small potato seeds that are not larger than a chicken egg, you don’t have to cut them.
This is not an essential step either but it can boost the growth your potato seeds. You can keep your potatoes seeds in a cool and dimly lit environment for a couple weeks until the potato seeds develop strong sprouts.
4. Choosing a container
You need to use large containers for growing potatoes. Potatoes require depth rather than width. An ideal container should be at least 24 inches deep. Every two potato seeds should be grown in a 5-gallon container. If you want to grow 4 potato seeds per container, you should use a 10-gallon container.
Potatoes like warmth so any plastic container that can provide warmth is an excellent choice. Thus, you can use buckets, dustbins, sacks, and tires to grow potatoes. It is essential that any container you use should contain a lot of drainage holes.
5. Planting Seed Potatoes
As we mentioned earlier, potatoes require warmth. Thus, you shouldn’t start planting until the last frost has passed. It is crucial that the soil is warm enough to allow potato seeds to grow. The soil temperature should be above 40F (4 C) otherwise your plants will not grow.
You can use your garden soil if it is a good quality soil. If it is not, it is recommended that you buy some good quality soil. Fill 4 to 5 inches of the container with soil. Put the potato seeds on the top of the soil with the eye buds facing upward. Then, add another 5 inches layer of soil to cover the potato seeds.
6. Growth requirements of potatoes
- Location: Potatoes love the warmth and they need at least 6 hours of sunlight exposure daily to grow and thrive. Therefore, you should choose a sunny spot for your potatoes so they can the amount of sunlight they need.
- Soil: You should never use wet, clayey soils to grow potatoes. They require a good quality light soil that contains organic matter. The soil should be slightly acidic too with pH levels vary between 5 and 6.
- Watering: Potatoes need a moist soil to grow and thrive. Thus regular watering is required. However, don’t water them too much. Wet soil will cause rot. Check out whether the first inch of the soil is dry before watering.
- Temperature: Any temperature degrees that vary between 45-80 F (7-26C) are acceptable for growing potatoes.
7. Add compost and Manure
When your potatoes grow up to 6-8 inches high, you should start adding compost or manure to the soil. These two will provide your plants with more nutrients to boost their growth. Besides, manure and compost will prevent your plants from getting exposed to sunlight. Direct sunlight exposure will make your potatoes green and bitter. It should be noted that green potatoes are poisonous. They contain solanine which a toxic chemical.
Potatoes are not heavy feeders, thus applying a natural fertilizer is enough. Well-rotted manure and compost are sufficient to provide your potatoes with the nutrients they need to grow. However, for optimum growth, you could apply an organic liquid fertilizer. You shouldn’t fertilize your plants more than once a month.
Potatoes need a lot of potassium to grow. Therefore, you should avoid applying too much nitrogen fertilization to them. Nitrogen fertilizers will promote foliage growth rather than potato growth.
9. Pests and diseases
Potatoes are not subject to many diseases. Most of the diseases that infect your plants are related to overwatering. Avoid overwatering that causes rot and you will have healthy plants.
One of the advantages of growing potatoes in containers is that container potatoes are less prone to pests than garden potatoes. Nonetheless, there are some pests that you should be careful of such as potato beetles, Aphids, and Flea beetles. You can kill these pests applying an organic fertilizer.
When the leaves are yellow and you start seeing blooms, you can start harvesting your potatoes. Don’t wait too long to harvest otherwise you will be harvesting dry potatoes.
This is how to grow potatoes in containers successfully. Follow these steps and you will enjoy a heavy yield of sweet delicious potatoes.
Enjoy growing potatoes!