Well, several different people have encouraged me to try potatoes in a bucket. I researched Gardening By The Square Foot and found some information, but it really wasn’t detailed enough from my perspective. So I’m going to show you what I’m doing and maybe you can help! :)
Square buckets were recommended. I bought these off of Craigslist for $1 each. They originally held strawberry syrup. Then I drilled a hole on each side and one in the middle of the bottom.
Here are the seed potatoes. Cut and dried for 24 hours (that is how we do it in the North Country). I use russets because they are an indeterminate and will continue to set potatoes as they grow up.
SFG said to put an inch of pure compost in the bottom and set the potatoes in each corner. Did that and covered with the equivalent of “Mel’s Mix”.
I set the buckets along a fence line, so that I can tie the foliage against the fence as it grows.
So, this is my latest grand experiment! Wish me luck!
Good Morning Bev, Wow sounds like a plan to me and I will be interested in knowing how this turns out. I do however have a question, since potatoes are a root crop is that enough dirt in the bucket for them to set fruit and the roots also? It just seems very shallow. I have never tried to grow potatoes in a bucket so I may be 100% wrong on this but hey if it works that will be absolutely wonderful. Good Luck and looking forward to the results.
Hey, Suni! I know Bev will get back to you, and she is a Master Gardener (close enough, anyway) but I can tell you that, “NO” this is not enough soil to grow potatoes. But, wait! She ain’t done yet! When you see green growth (that’s new leaf formation) poking through the soil, you bury it in another layer of 2-4 inches of new, rich soil. Then when those poke through, you do it again…and you keep doing it until you run out of room to cover the plants as they grow. The more layers, the greater likelihood of tubers (potatoes) galore! My potatoes in a bucket have tall, straight plants that are now a good two feet tall and full of purple flowers with yellow centers. These flowers are poisonous – don’t try to eat them! I posted something on this in “How Does Your Garden Grow?”, but you don’t want to remove these blossoms, either; they help tubers form, according to North Dakota State U Dept of Agriculture, anyway. You just keep them watered but not wet; potatoes like moisture, but they do not like to be wet – they rot easily. So, keep them gently watered and make sure they get plenty of sun (should not be a problem for Suni! :)
It’s best to keep your potato buckets sitting on blocks or something like that, rather than directly on the ground…potatoes need good drainage, and it’s harder for critters to access when raised.
When are they ready to harvest? Well, depends on what you want…new baby potatoes or “fingerlings”? Won’t take long. Great big spuds for storage? Fall (usually early), when the plants start dying back.
There are lots of good posts online on how to do this. Given your climate, you will probably need to water them at least twice a day, or, provide some self-watering system that won’t be so much it will cause the tubers to rot in the ground. I know you’ll find a workable solution!
Here’s one site with purdy pictures:
Servantheart, once again I am amazed by all the knowledge this site has, thank you, and thanks for the suggestion on the watering system for them. We do use a lot of soaker hose for just this type of thing. Thank You also for the site. I look forward to reading it. :o)
Bev, good job on all those tater buckets; you should have a fine harvest from them!
Servantheart is 100% right with her description of adding soil to the bucket as the leaves start to inch upward. I have added about 6 inches of soil since this post and so far they are doing well.
I might experiment with pvc, capped on one end, holes drilled through it in the middle of the buckets for a self watering contraption. Works for flowers, but these buckets are small for four plants, IMHO. So, we will just have to see. :)
And I am still working on my Master Gardner course, needed an extension. :)
WOW Bev, I am so glad to know where I can go now with my questions on gardening……Miss humble herself. I have grown potatoes in the ground but never tried it this way maybe something I need to look into. Thanks for the reply
This looks very interesting! Could you please mention the size of the bucket and how many potatoes you put in each one? Thank you.
Hi, Sandi! Welcome to the conversation.
Bev will have to answer you, of course, but, for my tater bucket, I used a large plastic round tub found at Lowe’s for $5.00 last year; this year, I could not find them at Lowe’s, but I did find them at Fred’s, if you have those in your area. They are quite large, measuring approx. 21 inches across at the lip and about 16 1/2 inches high; these take a lot of soil, but also produce more tubers.
I did not have time to chit potatoes (prepare them for planting); here’s an online video for chitting potatoes: http://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/projects/basics/how-to-chit-potatoes/256.html
I used the small red “seed” potatoes (already chitted) and planted them whole. I don’t remember exactly how many – probably about 10 in this bucket, which is probably too many, just being honest. But, they are growing!
See the post here at SCP, “How Does Your Garden Grow”, Parts 1 and 2.
Hope this helps you! Nice to “meet” you!
Oh, and the Fred’s tubs were $8.50 each this year. It’s that 3% inflation rate our gooberment keeps talking about (yes, I know. That is NOT 3%!).
These buckets are 4 gallons each. The instructions on SFG said a potato in each corner, which I did. However, they never explained the holes very well, which is why I focussed on that aspect.
Pretty much any container that you can drill holes in will work. Watch rummage sales for plastic bins, etc. then just drill holes in them and plant with whatever. Regular round buckets will work, I would do 3 potatoes in those. I think 4 is pushing it for these buckets, but it is an experiment. :)
Our buckets contain four chunks of potatoes with at least one “eye” in it. Each one of our buckets has 3-6 plants that have sprouted.
I tried this a number of years ago, when I had a bit more room, and it worked reasonably well. I used a dumpster-dived old galvanized garbage can, knocked a bunch of holes in the bottom and sides with (somebody else’s) pick-mattock, put in way too many seed potatoes, and stuck it on top of 2 old concrete blocks.
I didn’t have a whole lot of good compost (or space to make more), back then, so I alternated filling the can w/compost, and plain ol’ bagged fallen leaves, dutifully raked up and bagged by a very anal-retentive neighbor, and rescued from the landfill on early-morning raids the previous Fall :)
Still, a decent veggie-yield for a very small space, and harvesting was basically kicking over a can, and picking up taters. :)
Keep kickin’ butt, Bev :)
This year we’ve got 12 ‘tater buckets, we follow TGFGS as for the Mel’s Mix, however we use round buckets. We built a “rack” of 4×4’s that stands about 5 ft. off the ground (sort of resembles a clothesline but using 6 ft. 4×4’s instead of “lines” that are hinged at each end on the “T”, and screwed in heavy duty hooks that each bucket hangs on and the foliage just grows over the tops and then downward. I don’t know how to load pics or I’d share. DO NOT try to grow gold’s. They just don’t “layer” like the reds etc. (we learned the hard way and only got one layer of potatoes per bucket). We just finished our last layer last week and the foliage is already about a foot tall & will start their downward descent. Just love this method of growing potatoes and it’s VERY productive.
Hi, WE2! Those are some great tips. Thank you! I am growing reds, but was considering starting some golds. Thanks for “heads up”. I like your contraption you built; sounds like a great idea!
WE2 that sounds amazing! I would LOVE to see pics if someone can help you figure out how to send them!
I know how to load pics, but I don’t see any place here in the comments where we can upload pics or…I would! LOL
Good morning, WE2! We can’t upload pics to the site; just email them to Bev and she’ll slap ’em on there, eh, Bev?!
Could you grow sweet potatoes in buckets?
Hi, Carol! I do not know if this works; perhaps Bev will; but one way to find out! I DO know that sweet potatoes are more “particular” in their growing requirements than regular tubers, and that they require “hardening off” for a month after harvest.
Sweet potatoes are started from slips, apparently, and not seed potatoes, as are other tubers:
and they are subtropical, which is why they do well in the Deep South.
You could do a search: http://www.duckduckgo.com (I never use the “g” place any more; too invasive of privacy) for “growing sweet potatoes”.
Welcome to the conversation!
I couldn’t find anything in my research to your question that would indicate yes or no flatly, rather “The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of Convolvulaceae, I. batatas is the only crop plant of major importance—some others are used locally, but many are actually poisonous. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum) and does not belong to the nightshade family.
The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet potato also includes several garden flowers called morning glories, though that term is not usually extended to Ipomoea batatas”.
So, the vines and shoots may be continuously edible! They are often grown as container plants for their foliage, but are not truly potatoes as we are growing them.
They are usually grown for their foliage and I didn’t see anything about flowering. As far as I know, to have new sweet potatoes you need flowers.
No flowers would indicate that your would not set fruit or rhizomes–but I could be wrong! Perhaps no one has tried it!
Carol, try it and tell us how it works!
Thank you. I have them in my square foot gardening boxes right now. I just planted them last week and they are still trying to get established. Hopefully they will grow. My friend grew a great crop last year. Next year I may try some in buckets. I bought organic sweet potatoes and started my own slips. It’s been a fun experiment so far. I’ll keep you posted!