By Kery Michaels | April 14, 2021
There are several advantages to growing potatoes in grow bags rather than in the ground. It’s the ideal way of growing them if you’re short on space – you can even grow them on a patio or balcony.
There are at least 2 methods for cutting seed potatoes; cutting as you plant or cutting ahead and allowing the cut surface to callous over. Each piece should be about 1 ½ to 2 ounces with at least 2 eyes per piece. Whole seed potatoes can be planted if they are small.
Because potatoes prefer a rich loamy soil with a pH of about 6.0 you must prepare the soil. Check the soil and measure the N-P-K levels if you aren’t sure about the fertility. Check the plant at mid-season. Add extra fertilizer if the leaves are slightly yellow or if the plants are not growing well.
MAke sure that the soil has reached a minimum of 45 degrees Fahrenheit before planting your seed potatoes. Planting too early in cold, wet soil can ruin your crop.
1.Prepare the Potting Soil
Use a high-quality potting soil that is fast draining, organic soils are always a good choice as well.
2. Add Fertilizer
Mix in an organic, slow-release fertilizer into the potting soil. In addition to this up-front feeding, it will be a good idea to use a diluted liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion every couple of weeks as your potatoes grow. Potatoes grown in grow pots need plenty of water, which can leach out nutrients from the soil. For this reason, plants that are grown in planter bags generally need more feeding than they do when growing in the ground.
3. Prepare the Seed Potatoes
There are a few theories on preparing seed potatoes for planting and one is not necessarily best. Some people wait for their potatoes to sprout then plant them whole, while others just plant the seed potatoes immediately.
A more "approved" method by experienced gardeners is to cut the seed potatoes into pieces, each containing at least two eyes—growth nodes where shoots will appear. Wait for the cut surfaces to "callus over" by leaving them to sit for a couple of days before planting.
4. Position the Seed Potatoes
Place the container in full sun. Fill the container with about 4 to 6 inches of potting soil that has been blended with compost and fertilizer. Place the prepared seed potato pieces onto the potting mix, with the eye buds facing up. The plants will grow fairly large, so make sure to give them some breathing room. For example, a container that is around 20 inches wide can handle about four small seed potatoes. It may not seem like much when you're planting, but the size of your potato harvest will surprise you.
5. Cover the Seed Potatoes
After you have positioned the seed potatoes, cover them with a couple of inches of prepared potting soil. Don’t get too enthusiastic here, because you don’t want to plant them too deep. About 1 to 4 inches of soil is perfect and the cooler the climate, the less soil you should put on top.
6. Tend the Growing Potatoes
Potatoes will not grow without sun and water. Make sure your container receives at least six to eight hours of sun a day. Water your newly planted potatoes well. Remember that one of the keys to growing potatoes is keeping your soil moist, not wet.1 This cannot be stressed enough.
Check the container at least once a day. To check the moisture level, stick your finger at least an inch into the soil (or up to your second knuckle). If it feels dry, it's time to water. If it’s very hot or windy, you may have to water your potato container gardens more than once a day.
Make sure to water deeply by waiting until water runs out the bottom. It is counterproductive to just water the surface of the soil. The nice thing about containers is that you can visibly see when you've watered deeply enough. Simply watch for water to seep out of the container's bottom, and you'll know that they have a sufficient amount of water.
7. "Hill" the Potatoes
Once your potato plants have grown about 6 inches, you need to hill them. This is done by adding a couple of inches of prepared soil around your potato plants, covering the growing stems at the bottom. Be careful not to break the plants in the process. The goal is to bury about one-third of the plant, covering the lower leaves with soil. The buried stems will produce more potatoes, so this hilling procedure is essential to a good harvest.
You will need to repeat this hilling process a few more times as your plants grow. You can also stop once the soil reaches the top of your container. Potato plants grow incredibly fast, so keep an eye on them and don't let them get ahead of you.