Saturday, April 10, 2010

Potatoes in a Barrel

We planted our potatoes last week here at Clay Hill Farm. I don't grow potatoes in the ground, though - I grow them in barrels. It's really easy, and the yields are very good. You can grow up to forty pounds of potatoes in each barrel, depending upon the size of the barrel.


Potato plants are actually attractive, and they look good in containers. Only these containers can help cut your grocery bill this fall, and growing your own potatoes is fun!



If you want to grow your own potatoes in a barrel, select your container first. You can use a barrel, or a large pot, or a growing bag, or one of the commercially available potato barrels. I've even heard of using old tires, and stacking them as the plants grow. Potatoes are remarkably versatile and will grow almost anywhere.


Make sure there are holes or an opening in the bottom of your container for drainage. Put three inches (or so) of dirt in the bottom of the container. Season your seed potatoes by cutting them into chunks with one or two eyes per chunk, and let them sit and dry for a day or so. Then plant your seed potato chunks in the dirt.


When the potato plants get three or four inches high, cover all but the top inch in more dirt, Keep doing that until your container is full of dirt. This essentially creates a very long root, and little potatoes will sprout all along the length of it.


When the plants have flowered and the flowers have died back, your potatoes are ready to harvest. Tip the barrel and pick up your potatoes. It's that easy. You can harvest new potatoes in the summer by gently reaching into the soil and pulling out the baby spuds before the big harvest in the fall, but we usually don't do that. We wait for the big motherlode in early fall - taters everywhere!!!!


We dump a barrel every couple of weeks when it's time to harvest the potatoes. This helps keep the potatoes from spoiling, as they might if we harvested all the barrels at once.


I don't re-use potato barrel dirt from one year to the next. This year's potato dirt will go into the compost pile and spend a year or so helping the worms break down vegetable wastes and chicken and horse manure before I put it back into circulation in a raised bed or container or tilled into a flower bed. This is because potatoes are susceptible to blight and you don't want to allow the blight to establish itself in your dirt.


If you want more information on growing your own potatoes, here are some links:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/1980-03-01/Taters-in-a-Barrel.aspx

http://vegetablegardens.suite101.com/article.cfm/growing_potatoes_in_a_barrel_or_bag

http://roomfarm.blogspot.com/2009/04/sunday-project-growing-potatoes-in.html

10 comments:

Amy said...

That's so cool! A few years ago I got schooled on growing potatoes. My friends have a farm and she had sent her husband to get some of those Yukon Gold potatoes from the grocery store so they could plant them....And I said, "You can plant a potato from the store?" Everyone sitting there laughed! I had no idea how to grow potatoes! And she didn't tell me you could grow them in a barrel.
On a sad note, all our broccoli plants got flattened by the bad downpour we had the other day. Rats! I'm not sure if they will bounce back.

Dunappy said...

I might try that this year. I didn't have any luck at all last year with the potatoes. But it might be because it was a really cool summer also.

Heidi D said...

I've always wanted to try that. We had a church class on container gardening years ago. The lady used a small plastic trash can for hers.

I like the thought of my own finger potatoes. They aren't very plentiful in my area and if we do get them, they're really expensive.

Daisy said...

What a neat idea, Terri! I hope you get a good crop of them. :)

andrea said...

we tried potatoes three ways last year
in the ground traditionally
in a container
and on the ground covered in straw layer

the last actually had the highest yield, the container was the next highest and the traditional method was the lowest yield

I was fdascinated - think I'm going to do all by the first method again but you've tempted me to try containers again too :)

Debbie said...

I have never tried potatoes before. This could be a way I can do it. Will have to show my hubby!

Thanks for the wonderful idea. We use a lot of potatoes.

Mildred said...

I enjoyed this post very much Terri. This might just be something that John could do and he would enjoy it very much. We loved baked potatoes, especially loaded with chili and shredded cheese!
Hope you have a great week.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Hi Terri> That is so interesting. I have saw where people are growing them in containers and in bags. I wondered if the yield was good. It sounds like a great way to grow them and harvest too. You are in the drawing. Thanks for dropping in.
Lona

DayPhoto said...

A very well done post. And good for you. I still do the ground method as ours are field raised.

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

Susie said...

Terri that is a great idea. As much as groceries cost we all should do that.