Container potatoes update

Well, I’d been writing about the container potatoes gardening experiment I’ve been conducting on Facebook, so I’ll sum up what we’ve done so far here.

If you’ve never tried growing potatoes in a pot, you need to try. It is bad*ss.

You start by planting seed potatoes (basically potatoes whose eyes have sprouted–you can conveniently make your own by completely forgetting about organic potatoes you’ve bought in the back of the fridge) in about 6 inches of good black earth and compost in a giant pot (make sure it has at least one drain hole!)


Cover them over with dirt (obviously, right?)


You want to keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet so as not to compact the soil. This means to water deeply only when it starts to feel dry about an inch under the surface. The surface gets dry and cracked-looking pretty quick, but that doesn’t mean it’s all dried out already.

Within a couple of weeks, it’ll look like tiny ninja moles have invaded your pots (“I’m sure those drain holes were too small! Did they climb the walls with tiny grappling hook ropes??), but don’t panic. It’s just the potatoes GROWING!

Don’t judge me: sleep deprivation and toddler conversation make for some pretty weird “first” thoughts.


It’s best not to ask about the carrots right now…

In a surprisingly short time, they’ll look like this:


When the tallest plants are about 6 inches tall, you “hill up” the potatoes by adding another layer of dirt. Make sure to leave a couple inches of greenery showing, since you DO want the plants to continue growing…


Aaaand, repeat (not trying to trick you like shampoo companies here–this is an important step).

Eventually, the pots will be full to the brim with dirt. You need to make sure to stay ahead of flower production (which starts when the plants are 8 to 9 inches tall) until then. The plants grow incredibly fast so stay on top of this part! It only lasts a few weeks.


Last layer of dirt going on

Then the hard part.


The potatoes will flower.


And grow taller. This is the part in the experiment we’re up to. You’re supposed to wait until the flowers are gone and the leaves die (turn yellow and crumple I guess).


Leaves still going strong-ish

Buuuuuuuuut, I’m not so good with the waiting. I wanted to see what was going on! Anyone remember Davy from Anne of Green Gables, wanting to see what was going on “at the other end” of his plants? He and I have way too much in common. So hubby and I dumped one of the pots to see (plus I had more seed potatoes waiting, so we could replant right away).

Well here are the new potatoes out of one pot.


The big ones were the original seed potatoes, though they are about 3 or 4 times the size as they were when they went in (the picture at the top is from the replanting yesterday, so you’re not going crazy if you see 5 seed potatoes in the pile). For the record, they are not so good to eat.

The little ones are called new potatoes because they aren’t fully mature. Very tasty, though. These are Yukon gold; the ones at the top are from my mil, so they’re a surprise mix.

As you can see on the stems, there were a BUNCH of potato buds growing. We left the second pot that was started at the same time; so when the leaves die back, we’ll see if the extra time makes the difference.




Hopefully, those little buds in the second pot will keep growing. It’s only been about 2 months since we planted the first set of seed potatoes. Maybe another month?

I’ll update when the second pot seems ready. It’s hard to find a good picture online of what the leaves look like when they’re done and the potatoes are really ready to harvest.

This is why we experiment! Next year I’ll feel more comfortable getting a few more pots, or building a potato “condo.”

Those new potatoes were so delicious that I can’t WAIT until the second pot is ready! Oh, uh, I mean, I can wait because waiting is, uh, the step I’m on now, and, uh, where was l?…

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