Planting Potatoes in Buckets
Here it is mid-April again and I’m writing about potatoes. Man, I just can’t get it together to plant potatoes in March when they are “supposed” to go in. Just to prove that planting them in April is ok I’ll let you in on a secret. Some of the potatoes I planted this year are ones we didn’t eat from last year. HA! That means I had extra potatoes from my harvest.
Last year I grew my potatoes in a raised bed. I can’t quite remember how many pounds I harvested in the end, but it was about a 15 gallon bucket full. It was enough for us. In one bed the seed potatoes were planted in almost all soil. In the other I filled the bed with about 1/2 straw and the rest soil. I will tell you now that the bed that was primarily soil fared much better. I don’t personally suggest using straw as a bedding material for potatoes. Chickens, yes. Potatoes, no.
This year I’ve elected to go back to my good ol’ fashioned potatoes in nursery buckets. I’m tired of not being able to get all of the potatoes out of the beds and having to contend with digging out last years crop. Besides, if I do potatoes in the buckets I have more room in the beds for other things.
I’m fairly certain this is the ultimate in lazy gardener. Sure, the raised bed method was easy, but even my 8 year old could do this.
First you need to collect a few supplies. You’ll need a large bucket of some sort. I use 10-15 gallon nursery buckets that I pick up at my store. You can ask your local garden center or big box store if they have cheap or free pots you can have. We sell our containers over 7 gallons for $5 each. I’ve collected mine from trees I’ve planted in my garden. You will also need seed potatoes, soil and some fertilizer.
I purchased seed potatoes for 2 of the 5 varieties I’m planting. Seed potatoes are found in garden centers starting around the end of February through April. Later in the season centers will sell out of seed potatoes so you selection may be more limited. I had left over potatoes from last year’s harvest so I used a few of those. I only suggest this if you did not have any disease issues (blight) on your crop last year. If you did have diseases DO NOT replant potatoes. You will only be spreading that disease. This year I’m planting French Fingerling & Red Sunset (purchased), Russet Burbank, German Butterball & Yukon Gold (Gem?) (leftovers).
The first step is to put a few inches of soil in the bottom of the container. I’m using compost from the giant pile in my driveway. You can use planting mix or potting soil too. I just happen to have this giant pile in my driveway. About 4″ in the bottom of the pot is fine.
Then put in the potatoes. I put in quite a few for each pot. Figure you’ll get 5-10 pounds of potatoes for each medium seed potato. I will once again note that I don’t cut my seed potatoes. I choose medium sized seed potatoes and plant them whole… lazy.
These were 15 gallon buckets and I went a little crazy with seed potatoes. Then put a few more inches of soil on top. About 4″ is fine. I’ll let the potatoes grow and when the plant is about 6″ high I’ll add another 4″ of soil. Repeat that process until the soil is at the top of the pot. Then water the containers regularly. When the plant flowers cut back the watering by 1/2. When the plant turns yellow stop watering all together. Once the plant is totally dead dump the soil out onto a tarp and harvest your bounty.
I decided to experiment a bit with the Yukon Gems. I am planting those in 5 gallon buckets. I put 1 seed potato in each bucket and I’m using the same layering method. The idea is to see exactly how many pounds per seed potato I can get.