Baked, boiled, roasted or mashed, potatoes are one of the most delicious and versatile vegetables and they’re also really easy to grow!
You can sow seed potatoes directly into the ground or plant them into containers. Generally speaking, early and salad potatoes grow well in pots. Let’s take a look at the kinds of containers you can grow potatoes in and how to make your own potato planter box.
What type of containers can I grow potatoes in?
Potatoes really are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and will be happy in almost any container, as long as it’s at least 15 inches deep. A good rule is to plant one potato plant per 10 litres of container space, that’s about the size of an average bucket.
Think dustbins, barrels, large sacks and plastic boxes. As the potatoes grow, you’ll need to heap soil on top of them so the deeper the container, the more potatoes you can grow and harvest! Make sure any pots you choose have drainage holes in the bottom.
How can I make a potato box planter?
You don’t need advanced DIY skills to make a potato planter, just some wood (old pallets are perfect), basic tools and a little time! There are many different online tutorials that show you how to build a potato planter box, here are some ideas to get you started:
Wooden pallet potato box
This easy to follow guide from Instructables Living shows you how to make a planter from 2-4 wooden pallets. Because growing potatoes involves adding layers of soil as they grow, you can gradually add planks to the planter box frame as the potato plants grow taller. It’s a great way to maximise your potato crop and gives you chance to source more wooden planks should you run out.
Plank Potato Box
This box is similar to the pallet planter, in that you continue to add planks as the plant grows. This handy guide to building a potato planter box that grows with your plant from My Outdoor Plans contains a series of illustrated potato planter box plans to help you out.
Hessian bag potato planter
You can create an effective homemade potato planter from inexpensive hessian fabric. Hessian is ideal for planters as it’s tough and drains brilliantly. You can buy hessian from craft shops, online stores or use old sacking. The key to making an effective planter for your potatoes is to make a bottom for the bag so it will stand up.
- To make a potato bag, first cut two circles of hessian fabric to use as the base, they’ll need to be at least 30cm in diameter.
- Sew these pieces together to create a strong base for your planter.
- To make the edge of the bag, simply cut fabric that’s slightly wider than the radius of the circle (use a tape measure to be accurate.) Sew the edges that will form the side of the bag together so you’re left with a tube with a gap at the bottom and the top.
- Finally, stitch the base of the bag to the bottom of the tube. Don’t worry if your stitching isn’t the neatest, it really doesn’t need to be! It just needs to be fairly tight so that the soil doesn’t escape through any holes.
Tip: You can also use empty grow bags. Start by rolling them down and as the potato plant grows, just roll the bag up and add more compost.
How do I plant seed potatoes?
Potatoes are one of the most productive crops that you can grow. For every pound of potatoes you plant, you can expect to harvest three to five pounds, that’s a lot of spuds!
There are a few schools of thought when it comes to planting your seed potatoes, but one of the best ways to get the most from them is to cut them into smaller sized pieces, with each piece containing 2 eyes, before planting.
Wait 2-3 days for the cut pieces to callus over before planting, this protects the seed potatoes from disease.
Tip: Plant seed potatoes before they sprout to prevent the tender shoots from being damaged.
Sow your seed potatoes into 4-6 inches of good quality potting soil about 2 weeks after the last frost. Make sure you bring them inside should a rogue frost strike after this point. You only need to cover them with an inch or two of soil to begin with.
Position your potato planter in a sunny spot and water well. Water potato plants daily or more in warm, dry weather as the soil needs to be kept moist.
When your potato plant has grown about 6 inches, you need to ‘hill’ the plant. Heap soil around the plant, covering the bottom leaves. It’s the buried stems that produce potatoes. You’ll need to continue this process until you reach the top of the planter or bag. Potatoes grow fast so you’ll need to be vigilant and quick!
When your potato plant flowers, you can begin the fun job of harvesting your spuds! Once the plant yellows and dies back, it’s time to harvest any remaining potatoes.