Everyone loves the versatility of potatoes and for those of you looking for the best way to grow potatoes by yourself, this article is for you.
Since potatoes are adaptive, the best way to grow potatoes is to use the container method which is effective for both urban and rural areas.
The biggest advantage of growing potatoes in containers is that you do not have to worry about finding adequate space or building a garden to harvest potatoes. Therefore, it is ideal for those who have limited space to garden.
The container method is effective for growing almost all kinds of vegetables successfully.
It is one of the easiest ways to harvest potatoes and has minimum requirements; the principle of which is adequate light throughout the day (at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight)
You can place the container anywhere you want and only need to meet the requirements for growing potatoes.
Requirements for Growing Potatoes
To have a better yield of good quality potatoes, there are some key factors you need to ensure; no matter which method of growing you follow.
Those requirements are as follows:
For the best yield, potatoes need sufficient sunlight throughout the day.
To ensure at least 6 hours of direct sunlight exposure, you need to pick a location for growing your potatoes that will enable this requirement.
Potatoes can easily be grown at any temperature between 7-26°C (45-80°F)
A good quality light soil that is slightly acidic and contains organic matter is ideal for growing potatoes.
The pH range of the soil should be within 5 to 6.
Moist or clayey soils should be avoided at all costs since they are not suitable for potatoes.
Regular watering at an adequate amount is another requirement for a positive potato harvest.
To make sure you are not overwatering, check whether the top inch of the soil is dry or not before watering.
5 . Season
March-May is the best time for planting your potato seeds. By the end of the next 4 months, you should have your first harvest.
Best Way to Grow Potatoes
Let us now look at the proper steps to follow for growing potatoes successfully using the container method.
Step 1: Choosing and preparing the right seed potatoes
Your first task is to pick the right kind of seed potatoes for working with. It is the chief means of growing potatoes and is readily available in nurseries and supermarkets. Going for the nursery seeds will be the wiser choice here. Make sure the seeds are disease-free, are free from rots or bruises, and will produce good-quality potatoes. Small ‘new’ potatoes are ideal for growing using the container method.
For preparation, keep the chosen seeds in a dark and cool room until they develop 2 to 3 eye buds; preferably 1-2 days before planting. Eye buds are the little dimpled areas in the seed potato that contain the vegetative buds. While the smaller seeds with 1-2 eyes can be planted whole, if your seed potato has more than 3 buds, cut the extra ones and allow the cut pieces to air dry for 24-48 hours to prevent chances of rot.
Step 2: Pre-sprouting (optional)
This step is not mandatory and is only a way of having durable plants. Keep the seed potatoes in a dimly lit, cool environment for a week or two until they have developed strong sprouts.
Step 3: Choosing the right container
Choosing a container with more depth than width is essential for growing the potatoes correctly. You can use any container that has several drainage holes including plastic buckets, dustbins, sacks, and even tires. Make sure the chosen container is at least 24 inches deep.
For every 2 potato seeds, a 5-gallon container is ideal. But if you plan on planting more seeds per container, go for the 10-gallon container.
Step 4: Planting the seeds
As mentioned earlier, summer is the ideal time for planting potatoes as warmth is one of the main prerequisites of growing potatoes. You use your garden soil or get new ones from the nursery to ensure proper quality. The soil temperature should be above 4°C to ensure enough warmth for the seeds to grow.
Fill 4-5 inches of your container with the soil and put the potato seeds on top of the soil with the eye buds facing upwards. Add another 5 inches of soil to make sure the seeds are covered properly.
Step 5: Adding compost and manure
To provide your plants with more nutrients, start adding compost or manure to the soil when your potatoes have grown about 6 to 8 inches tall. This will not only boost their growth but also protect your potatoes from direct sunlight exposure.
Direct sunlight exposure will result in green and bitter potatoes which are poisonous because of the presence of a toxic chemical, Solanine.
Step 6: Watering and fertilizing
- As an additional growth and strength booster, you can apply natural/organic fertilizers to your plants once a month along with compost and manure.
- Fertilizers also act as a protection against pests like potato beetles, flea beetles, etc.
- Make sure your plants are well-watered but never soggy.
- Overwatering your plants will cause diseases and rot.
- If the top 1 or 2 inches of the soil feels dry after touching, apply water in a manner that will allow a bit to escape through the drainage holes.
Step 7: Harvesting
Harvesting the potatoes within the right time is important as delaying will result in dry potatoes.
The indicator for harvesting is when the leaves are yellow and you start to see blooms in your plant.
Other Ways of Growing Potatoes
Some other effective methods of growing potatoes include the following:
- Using burlap bags
- Hilled up soil method
- Growing them directly in the soil
Growing potatoes in containers are quite a rewarding way of growing potatoes as you will be provided with nutritious, tasty, and fresh potatoes after each harvest. The yield is also high in this method. The only drawback is that the potatoes will be a little small in size.
If that’s an issue for you, you can follow the other methods mentioned in our article for bigger potatoes or the one that works best for you.