“Every single diet I ever fell off of was because of potatoes and gravy or some sort” – Dolly Parton
What You Need: Five gallon bucket, Drill and 1″ drill bit, Seed potatoes, Potting soil, Fertilizer. Optional Items: Vermiculite, Coco Coir, or Peat Moss
Of all the vegetable I grew last year the easiest by far was potatoes. This is that one item you can plant and just walk away from and it will still grow. A few people have asked how I grew my potatoes last year so I figured I would throw this together as a guide.
The trick for easy potatoes is to grow them in a container. I prefer a five gallon bucket. You can get these from Walmart for around $3. I haven’t found them any cheaper but I’ve been told if you go to some restaurants and they give them away for free. Make sure you select a food grade bucket since you will be growing something you plan to eat. Other varieties that are used to hold paint might leak toxins. The one’s at Walmart contain the sticker below.
The next tip is the most important. You need drill holes in the bottom of the bucket. If you have a 1″ drill bit the diagram below is a great guide. These will act as drainage holes so you don’t overwater your potatoes. You don’t want your seed potatoes to rot from sitting in water.
The hard part of this process is now done.
Next fill the bucket with 1/3 mixture of potting soil. If you decided to use one of the optional items you would mix equal parts soil and optional item. For example I place vermiculite in my buckets. This keeps the soil nice and airy. I mix half soil and half vermiculite in another bucket to make sure its mixed well. Any of the above items I mentioned will do the same thing. Vermiculite is expensive so if this is your first time you may want to select a cheaper option. The only thing you cannot use is soil from your yard or top soil. You must use potting soil because it’s lighter and will give the potatoes room to grow.
After your bucket is filled with 1/3 soil you are going to want to place your seed potatoes in the bucket. You need to place your potatoes with the tiny sprouts called “eyes” facing up. If you have multiple “eyes” on your potatoes I always select the largest one to face up. Some people will tell you to cut the potato. Again if this is your first time, don’t do this. Let’s keep it simple. Plus seed potatoes are cheap, drop the whole thing in there and splurge a little.
Next fill the bucket with another 1/3 of soil. Top the soil with fertilizer. I use a pelleted fertilizer for potatoes. They are heavy feeders and will require fertilization every two weeks. You can also use a liquid fertilizer. If you want to grow organic potatoes you can use bone meal or fish emulsion. Please read the directions on your fertilizer before use. All fertilizers are different so I can’t give you a general rule. I use Miracle Grow because it’s easy to find and works well on all my plants.
Finally water thoroughly. You want to see the water come out the bottom of the bucket. YOU ARE DONE!!! Yes you are really done. That was the whole process. As you begin to see the potatoes grow you will add more soil until you have added enough soil to reach the bottom lip of the bucket. There should be about an inch between the soil and the top of the bucket. Water your potatoes as needed and add fertilizer every two weeks.
Your plants will begin to flower. The flowers are actually really nice considering they come from potatoes. When the stem begins to fall over and look dead your potatoes are done. I pull the potatoes from the buckets right before I cook them. There is nothing better than a soft skinned potato you have grown yourself. I will post a recipe the closer we get to harvest if you are interested.
I will be planting my potatoes in a few weeks. Make sure there is no risk of frost before planting your potatoes. Yes I know, this is the hardest part. Send me a message if you plan to plant potatoes this year. Let’s grow some stuff together :).