By Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
At the expense of sounding as if I like to do everything the easy way, no, wait, I always like to do everything the easy way! Here is my incredibly simple method for growing potatoes: Plant them above ground.
Rocks, caliche, and heavy mountain soils make growing potatoes in our area almost impossible. Many gardeners simply don’t have the amount of land or time necessary to produce potatoes “at home”. Other than hard work, frustration, and blisters, do you need another reason to grow potatoes in containers?
My potatoes are grown in containers and already are planted. Seed potatoes arrived at the garden center this week and are ready for planting . . . . . . .
Simple Containers for Growing Potatoes
One of the easiest containers to use for growing potatoes is a bushel basket. It’s a great size and the basket fits into the whole country/cabin theme nicely. If you don’t have a bushel basket or don’t care for the look, you can use a 5-gallon bucket or a garbage can. Just make sure the container’s bottom has adequate drainage holes.
Fill the container halfway up with Watters Potting Soil.
You’ll want to plant 1-3 seed potatoes in a 5-gallon bucket, but a bushel basket or garbage can will accommodate more.
Set your seed potatoes on top of the potting soil in the container and add just enough soil on top of the seeds to cover them. As the plants grow, add more potting soil to cover the tubers, always keeping the potatoes buried. Continue to cover tubers as the plants grow up above the top of the container.
In summer, after the plants have flowered, stick your hand into the soil and harvest the potatoes that you need for your favorite recipe for a side dish, BBQ, or salad. You’ll harvest for months! Another idea is to simply wait for the tops of the plants to die back and turn the entire container over for an instant fall harvest.
More Potato Container Ideas
How about a big cardboard box? Just fold the flaps down into the inside of the box, add soil, and plant. Be sure to dig 5 or 6 inches into the ground to bury the bottom edge of the box so it doesn’t blow away. You also can place some big rocks at the bottom of the box. This is an good idea for condo and apartment dwellers. Even a laundry basket makes a great container for growing potatoes, as a box will last just for one season, but you can compost it after the harvest!