Grow Potatoes in a Barrel
Potatoes are a useful and versatile food that is also an inexpensive item to include into meals. As I lean more and more towards growing my own organic foods, I have been considering whether or not I could grow potatoes in the area I live in; due to the amount of clay in the soil. I referred my question to someone who knows a lot about growing potatoes; who ended up providing me with information for a really great alternative for growing potatoes in a barrel.
I’m really excited about this idea, because I really don’t have much garden space to utilize and I tend to enjoy container gardening much more anyway. For those of you who would also enjoy the benefit of this idea, this is how you can grow potatoes in a barrel.
Potatoes grow best in cooler temperatures, so it is best to start planting potatoes when the temperatures are still cool; early in the spring around the time of last frost.
Get a 50 gallon barrel or even a half size barrel. The larger the barrel the more potatoes you will be able to produce. Though a wood barrel is best, I am cleaning out and recycling one of my old plastic trash barrels to use for my potato barrel.
Turn the potato barrel upside down and drill some drainage holes into the bottom of the barrel. Then set the barrel right side up on some blocks, so it sets above the ground a bit.
Fill the bottom of the potato barrel with 6 inches of soil and compost. Then add some seed potatoes along the top of that first layer of soil. Seed potatoes can usually be purchased from nurseries early in the year. But after your first harvest you can keep a few potatoes specifically to be used as seed potatoes for the next year. You can use the whole potato or cut the potato into chunks; as long as each chunk has a sprout on them. Add water to your barrel to dampen the soil.
When the sprouts grow to about 6-8 inches tall, add another layer of soil and compost till the sprouts are nearly covered. Add more water to keep the soil moist; be careful not over water or it will tend to rot the plants and growing potatoes.
Repeat this process of allowing the sprouts to grow and then covering the sprouts and moistening the soil until the barrel is filled to the top. Make sure to keep the soil moist during the remainder of the potato growing process.
Organic Tip: Bush beans are a good companion plant for potatoes that organically protect the potatoes against the Colorado potato beetle. The potatoes in turn will organically protect the beans from the Mexican bean beetle.
The plants will flower indicating that you have growing potatoes. When the plant turns yellow and dies back, usually around September, your potatoes are fully grown and ready to be harvested. You can simply harvest your potatoes by tipping over the barrel and sifting through the soil for your potatoes.