We didn’t used to grow potatoes in our small garden simply because they’re inexpensive and we wanted to reserve our limited growing space for crops that are more expensive at the grocery store. But after growing them for the first time we were absolutely hooked. The flavor of home grown potatoes simply can’t be beat, and even if you don’t have much space, you can usually find room to grow potatoes in grow bags, pots, and other containers. Today I’ll share how we grow our potatoes in 7 and 10 gallon grow bags. You can use the same approach if you’re growing in pots or other containers of a similar size. It was raining the day I planted, so I sought refuge in the close quarters of our hoop house. Potatoes can be started as early as 3 weeks before the last frost, but this planting was done just after the last frost. I started by preparing our potting mix. The base of the potting mix was soil from our garden and some used potting mix. To give the soil a boost of nutrients, beneficial microbes, and plant growth hormones, I mixed in our secret weapon – vermicompost from our worm bins. The vermicompost also included some red wiggler composting worms. You can add compost instead if you don’t have vermicompost. The resulting blend was very high in organic matter, which holds a lot of water. Potatoes grow best in well drained soil, so I added a small amount of coarse builder’s sand to improve drainage. I didn’t measure the different ingredients, but I was looking for a mix that holds together when squeezed, but easily breaks apart. I first planted purple majesty certified seed potatoes. These potatoes have purple skin and flesh. They arrived a few weeks before we were ready to plant, so I decided to take advantage of the time to chit them before planting to encourage sprout growth. To chit potatoes, just place them on a windowsill in an egg carton and leave them there until sprouts are roughly ¾ inch long. Chitting should lead to an earlier harvest, but isn’t necessary. To start planting, I added four inches of potting soil to the bottom of a 10 gallon smart pot, and placed 5 seed potatoes about 8 inches apart with most of the eyes facing up. If the seed potatoes had been much larger than a gold ball, I would have cut them into smaller pieces with at least a two eyes each. I then covered the potatoes with a couple more inches of potting soil and mulched them with a few inches of autumn leaves and comfrey. We grow nutrient rich comfrey specifically to use as mulch. Other great mulch materials include straw, nettles, and small amounts of grass clippings and used coffee grounds. The red wigglers in the vermicompost will help break down the mulch and make the nutrients available to the potatoes. If you don’t have mulch, you can cover the potatoes with 4 inches of potting soil and compost instead. We don’t add additional fertilizers. Next, I planted Red Gold certified seed potatoes in 7 gallon grow bags. These potatoes have red skin and yellow flesh. Like the Purple Majesties, I also chitted them over the last few weeks. Once again, I started by adding 4 inches of potting soil to the bottom of the bag. These bags have a smaller base than the smart pots, but are taller. I planted 2 potatoes about 8 inches apart and covered them with a few inches of soil. Then, to take advantage of the greater bag height, I added a third seed potato between where the other 2 were planted. I covered the third potato with 2 inches of soil and leaf and comfrey mulch. Potatoes grow best in full sun, so I placed the grow bags in a variety of sunny locations around the garden. One great thing about growing in containers is that you can usually find small nooks and crannies for them where you may not want to have a permanent garden bed. With containers you can grow on decks, patios, balconies, porches, and stairs. Another advantage is that it can be hard for some pests, like slugs, to find their way into containers. Potatoes require a moderate amount of water, and we’re careful to not let the potting soil get soggy. Mulch reduces the amount of watering required. Before watering, I feel the top inch of soil if it’s dry. We should see the plants emerge in 2 to 4 weeks. When they’re 8 inches tall, I’ll add more mulch, leaving about 4 inches of the plant above the mulch. As they grow, I’ll continue this hillin up process until the bag is full of mulch. Again, if you don’t have mulch, you can always use compost and potting soil. Either way, it’s important to keep potatoes covered. When tubers are exposed to the sun, it increases their solanine levels. Though solanine is naturally occurring in potatoes, it can reach harmful levels, and cause gastrointestinal and other health issues. Potatoes that are high in solanine are also often green, so be careful not to eat green potatoes. In 2 to 3 months, these potatoes will be ready to harvest. We usually reach in the soil and pull out a few new potatoes a couple weeks after the plants flower. And we harvest the whole bag when the plants have mostly died back. Harvesting potatoes from containers is much easier than harvesting from garden beds. You can just dump out the contents of the container, and separate the potatoes from the soil. It’s also easier to find all the potatoes. I almost always miss some potatoes when harvesting from garden beds but they’re easy to find in containers. It feels good to have all of our potatoes planted. Today’s planting was actually our third. We planted these potatoes back in March under cover in this compost bin and we planted more in April in a raised bed. As we close, I’ll share more images of how our potatoes are coming along, and links to the videos where I planted these potatoes and the potatoes in the raised bed. Well, that’s all for now. Thank you very much for watching, and until next time remember you can change the world one yard at a time.