How to Grow 100 Pounds Of Potatoes In A Barrel
Container gardening opens up a variety of options as something that both apartment dwellers and homeowners can do. When one thinks of plants to be grown in containers, the usual thoughts are herbs and tomatoes, but these are certainly not the only options. Potatoes would likely be very far down the list of container plants, but with the right conditions it is possible to grow large amounts of potatoes in a container.
An adequately-sized container is the first thing needed. Potatoes are root vegetables that need plenty of room to grow in the soil, and so a large pot or barrel must be used. The height of the container is more important than the width. A two to three foot tall container is best, such as a 50-gallon trash can or a decorative whiskey barrel. A creative person can make a planter out of almost any container so long as it has been properly cleaned with a dilute bleach solution and has drainage holes in the bottom and sides.
The potatoes should be prepared before planting. There are two options here: buying seed potatoes or starting your own. Anyone who has left potatoes out and uncooked for too long has seen that they sprout from the eyes after a few days in cool dark conditions, so potato sprouts can be started from store-bought potatoes. Plant nurseries may have more varieties than stores, but they may only have them during certain times of year. In either case, after the potatoes have begun to grow they can be restarted from the new potatoes harvested from the plant.
To plant the new potatoes, the chosen container should have the bottom six inches filled with a loose planting mix and compost. Pure soil will pack down with the weight of water and rot the plant, and so planting mix with peat moss or coconut husks will enable better drainage. The seed potatoes should be added next with plenty of space in between the plants. If necessary, the potatoes can be cut into smaller pieces so long as the sprouts themselves are not damaged. The potatoes should then be covered loosely with six more inches of soil and the plants allowed to grow. As the potato plant grows higher, add more soil–every six to eight inches of foliage-bearing plant means that you should cover one half to three-quarters of the visible plant.
Once the plants have flowered and begin to turn yellow, the potatoes are ready. They should first be inspected with careful digging. If they look ready, the barrel can be dumped and its contents harvested. The process can be repeated over and over again for pound after pound of fresh home-grown potatoes.