Growing potatoes is great way to get your children involved in gardening. I grow potatoes in a bag (or five) since it is easier than growing them in a garden bed. I use Gardener’s Supply’s potato grow bags which are made of BPA-free polypropylene fabric. Potato grow bags are great for people who have a small area to plant or want to garden on their patio or balcony. (Note, potato bags are either the same or similar to smart pots. Gardener’s Supply calls them potato grow bags.)
I use potato grow bags because I don’t want to waste a bed on growing potatoes. Normally potatoes are planted in 6 inch trenches, 18 inches apart in rows 2 to 3 feet apart. Plus I find dumping or digging in the bags a lot easier than digging up the potatoes. PS kids love searching for potatoes in the bags!
So, you might ask why not just use big containers? The fabric breathes so you don’t have to worry about overheating or the potatoes being soggy. Plastic isn’t as forgiving.
I have had my bags for at least 7 years so it is a good investment. You can also grow a multitude of plants in them such as green peppers, eggplant, beets, and tomatoes.
How to Grow Potatoes in a Bag
Previously, I talked about how to cut your potatoes into potato seeds. Read about HERE. If you are ready to plant, remember your potatoes need room to grow. You want to be stingy with your potato seeds. In the past, I have planted WAY too many potato seeds and gotten a big harvest of smaller potatoes.
I grow organic Yukon potatoes since my kids love their taste. They tend to be on the smaller size compared to a russet potato.
Watch my video below as I show you how to plant them. As you will see I only used four this year rather than my usual 8! My bags are 25 inches in diameter and 18 inches high.
Rule of thumb:
1. Either use potting soil or a mixture of soil to compost. I generally err on the side of mostly compost.
3. I plant my potatoes in a square so there is plenty of room to grow.
4. Place the potatoes eye up. They can be laid on their side with the eyes pointing outward or up. (See the video.)
5. Cover the potatoes with 2 inches of soil.
6. Water the soil like a damp sponge–not soggy.
7. When they get to 6 inches, cover them with compost up to their necks. Repeat until they reach the top of the bag. Be careful when putting in compost so that you don’t break their necks.
8. Watch them closely. They grow really, really fast. You want bury them as fast as you can.
9. Watch for that dreaded Colorado Potato Beetle. HERE is what he or she looks like. Hand pick them off.
10. Water your plants. The general rule is to water you plants if they don’t get about an inch of rainfall a week. You can put out a tuna can to measure to make sure. I just put my finger up to my first knuckle up to the dirt to see if the soil is dry. Since the bags wick away the water, they may need more water than plastic containers.
11. Harvest the plants when the plants start to wither and die. Generally 10 to 12 weeks later. I harvest mine right before a fall frost.
Note, you can harvest small potatoes right after they are done flowering. I wait.
I just read an old post that I wrote in 2009 about growing potatoes. I mentioned a list of bonehead mistakes I have made and it is worth a good laugh. Also, be sure to watch my potato bag harvest video. ( 60,000+ visits on YouTube. Who would have thought?)
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Do you grow potatoes? Any tips?
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