Over the past few years I have tried growing potatoes. Not wanting to use precious garden space for experimenting with potato’s – I tried growing them in containers.
I found it surprisingly easy. In the Spring of 2010 I planted 27 buckets and had great success. Potatoes are generally started in cooler weather. For those that have never tried bucket potatoes – this is for you.
To grow your own potatoes in a bucket – here is how I do it –
You Will Need
- A bucket (at least 12 – 16 inches in diameter – the bigger the better)
- Compost/Rich Soil
- Seed Potatoes
Steps to Growing Potatoes in Buckets
Step 1: Get Your Seed Potatoes
A seed potato is nothing more than a potato that has sprouted. You can get these sometimes from the grocery store, online from a seed supplier, or from a local farmers market.
I generally look through the potatoes at my local grocery store and will find some that are starting to sprout – and bring those home (I have had no problem with red potatoes – but it is said that some store bought potatoes are treated so as not to sprout).
I have had success planting potatoes that have short sprouts of only an inch or so.
Step 2: Prepare Your Bucket
I use orange Home Depot buckets the most – but any similar sized bucket or larger will work (don’t use black if the temperature gets hot in your area).
You need to drill several holes on the sides toward the botttom of the bucket to allow draining. Holes should be 1/4″ to ½” in diameter. Next – pour 1 – 2 inches of inches of gravel in the bottom of the bucket.
The gravel helps make certain the drainage holes do not get plugged up. Now – place your soil mixture in the bucket so that you have 4-6 inches at the bottom.
The soil mixture can be a combination of your local soil, potting soil, compost, and inexpensive top soil. If the combination is too hard and stiff – add a little sand to loosen it up. After watering the soil will compact down and this is to be expected.
Step 3: Plant Your Potatoes
Take your seed potatoes and push them into the soil in the bucket so that the upper half – the part with the sprouts – are pointing up. Now – cover with approx 3-4 inches of soil.
Depending upon the size of the bucket and the potato – place one or two potatoes in each bucket. If you use something very large – like a tire or the bottom of a 55-gallon barrel – many potatoes can be planted.
If the potato is large with multiple eyes you can cut it in half dividing the potato so there are sprouts on both halves. You can then plant each half separately.
One thing to keep in mind is if you do cut it in half – set the cuts in a window sill for 2-3 days to “cure” the cut surfaces – this will help reduce the chance of mold.
Step 4: Water Them
It is important that the soil remains moist – but not too much. I water the buckets about every other day depending upon rain and temperature.
Generally, I will provide water until I see some coming out the bottom thru the holes. I have used liquid Miracle Grow in the past – have no idea if it helped or not.
Light. I always place all my buckets in direct sunlight. I actually use the buckets around the outside of my garden.
Watch Them Grow
As the potato plant grows, you need to cover the new growth to facilitate more potatoes. Generally.
Once the plant has grown above the top of the soil 4-5 inches I will dump new soil until just the tip of the plant is showing.
I continue this until the bucket is full. New potatoes form on new growth once it is covered with soil.
Once the plant itself turns yellow and die’s off – you can empty the bucket and collect your potatoes.
Growing your own potatoes can be very rewarding. It’s also a great idea if you’re prepping to bug in or out, because you can move the containers either inside your home, or in your bug out vehicle.
In fact, container gardening is probably the best type of gardening for preppers on a budget, who prep to both bug in or out.
In a long-term survival situation combined with normal gardening – these bucket potatoes can be a great addition to establishing sources for food.