Find your barrel. You can use an old metal or plastic trash can, or a wooden barrel. The number of potatoes you can grow will depend on the size of the container. Make a series of holes, about six inches apart in each direction, in the bottom of your barrel. These will provide drainage and help keep the potatoes from rotting because of too much water. Spread a sheet of fiberglass window screening over the holes and add about six inches of soil in the bottom of the barrel. Top that with a four inch layer of clean sawdust.
You can raise your own potatoes even if you don't have space for a garden. They are very easy to grow in a barrel. If the container is filled with sawdust, harvesting your potatoes at the end of the year will be super easy.
Things You'll Need
- Metal, plastic or wooden container
- Clean sawdust
- Seed potatoes
Get your seed potatoes. Unlike most vegetables, potatoes are not usually grown from seeds. They are sprouted from the eyes of fully grown potatoes. There are commercial vendors of certified seed potatoes and you can probably find them at a local garden store. Some online sources are listed in the Resources section below. Do not use potatoes from the grocery store. Those are usually sprayed with an anti-sprouting chemical. Even if they are starting to sprout, they will not develop properly. Keep some of this years harvest to plant next year and you wont have to buy them again.
Cut the seed potatoes so that each chunk contains two eyes then let the pieces sit for a couple days so the cut surfaces dry out. Next, push the eyes down into the layer of sawdust in the barrel so they are just barely covered. Dampen, don't soak, the sawdust. You should see sprouts poking up through the sawdust in a few days.
When the sprouts are a couple inches high, add more sawdust to cover them up again. Give them a watering and wait a few more days. Repeat this process of covering the new sprouts and watering until the sawdust level is just below the rim of the barrel. Depending on the size of your container, by the time it is full, you will have two or three feet potatoes growing in the barrel. All you will have to do then is water the plants occasional. No weeding necessary.
Harvest your potatoes when the plants stop growing and the leaves turn from green to yellow (around September or October). One of the advantages of growing in a barrel is that there is no need to dig. Just tip your barrel over on it's side, jiggle it a little to loosen the sawdust and everything should slide right out. The used sawdust will make a great mulch for flower beds. Enjoy your tasty homegrown potatoes but don't forget to set a few aside for planting next year.
- Photo Credit pdclipart.org
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