The Q&A Archives: Growing Potatoes In Big Barrels

Question: I live in zone 6, have a mostly sunny deck, and would like to plant russet, or a similar type of, potatoes in a big barrel. Could you tell me what type of soil to use, how to space the potatoes, how deep to plant them, how big the barrel should be, and anything else I left out please. I moved to the east coast about 6 months ago and miss the "fresh" Idaho potatoes because I LOVE to eat them. They taste too ripe over here to me, so i want to try and grow my own. Thank you very much for your time.

alicia A.K.A. missing my favorite food.

Answer: Growing potatoes above ground saves space, makes
harvesting easier, and
often produces more potatoes per plant than regular garden
You can purchase "potato barrels", or simply create your
own. The following instructions were devised for planting atop the soil, but should also work just fine for planting atop a half barrel or similarly sized large container. Use a
piece of chicken wire or hardware cloth to create cylinders
about 3
feet tall and 2 feet in diameter. Loosen the soil underneath
for good
drainage, and set the cylinder in place. Place a layer of hay or other organic matter such as old rotted leaves
in the
bottom of the cylinder, and add a few inches of soil. Then
plant your
seed potatoes, about 4 per cylinder. Cover with another
few inches of
soil. Once the potato stalks have grown 4-6", add a layer of
hay, then
more soil, to cover the stalks, leaving just the top leaves
Continue in this fashion until you reach the top of the

You can begin harvesting when the first flowers appear, for
small, thin-skinned "new potatoes". Or wait until just before
the first
frost for full-sized potatoes. To harvest, simply remove the
wire and the potatoes will be easy to find!

You could also plant inside a plastic garbage can that has had holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. Put about six inches of soil in the bottom, and start layering as described above. You can reach down and steal new potatoes and then dump the can out to harvest at the end of the season.

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