Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Great Potato Pot Experiment 2012

I needed some potatoes for supper and the next ones in line are the red Pontiacs in pots. This is the second year I've put my "scraps" of seed potatoes in the only remaining available space... pots. I tried it last year, and unfortunately managed to burn and kill 99% of my plants by watering them on a hot sunny day. I still got 11 potatoes out of one plant. When Tim saw that he said "tell me again why we're planting them in the ground?"  We were only averaging 6 potatoes per stem in the rows.

I had trimmed back the foliage earlier in the day in preparation for harvesting.  I discarded the plants in our "land fill" area far from the garden.  Because of all the lovely soil born foliar diseases that the nightshade family are susceptible to (early blight, late blight, septorial speck, bacterial wilt, anthracnose...), I never compost tomatoes, potatoes or eggplant trimmings.  The pot on the right will be next on the slate.  The plants are beginning to look a bit ragged and over grown.

Potatoes, in a pot or in the ground, are always a bit of a surprise.  You never know how you are doing until you dig the plant up.  Then there is no going back.  Once you decide they are ready to pick, you are committed.

It's a bit like Christmas morning. You begin unwrapping and the anticipation is killing you...

What's inside?
Are there any potatoes at all?
Has the waiting been in vain?

You stir the dirt, and they begin to appear.


Smooth, hard, red treasures.
1, 2, 3, 4...

17 potatoes!
This will make at least three meals for us.
Had they been left in longer to fully mature, that would have been a 5 pound bag of potatoes!

I sifted through all the soil and put it back in the pot.  I will use it as needed to "hill" the potatoes I planted a week and a half ago in the tree containers.

I have decided there are at least 7 reasons why pot potatoes are superior to potatoes grown conventionally in the ground. 

1.  It saves space.  Traditional rows of potatoes take up a lot of space.  No room to add a row?  Put a pot on the patio.  If you choose the wrong spot, just pick up your pot and find a sunnier or shadier spot.
2.  You do not have to worry about rotating your crops as long as you start with clean, disease free potting soil each year.  You can either solarise, amend and reuse your soil for potatoes in the future, or repurpose it for flower containers.
3.  You do not run the risk of damaging the potatoes with a fork as you dig them.  I always spear one or two no matter how careful I am.
4.  You will not be leaving any behind accidentally so you increase your yield in that respect.
5.  No worms.  These roots were completely blemish free.
6.  They are easy to "hill" as long as you have a good supply of soil on hand which I do.  No digging or piling.  Simply add a few scoops of soil to each pot once a week or so.
7.  No weeding.

And really, they are rather attractive plants, especially when they bloom.  I don't think you can go wrong planting potatoes in a container.


  1. I agree. Another idea is growing them in 5 gallon buckets.

    This year we tried the "build as they grow" potatoe boxes. Our harvest wasn't great but our weather was very hot and dry and I didn't water them. We will try that method again next year.

  2. I think I'm going to try it too ! That way when it gets too hot I can bring them inside. Air conditioned potatos. Who'd a thunk it?