Growing Potatoes in Containers
by Holly Boettcher
I love fingerling potatoes, but since I do not have a water source near the large garden on my property, I decided to try something different this year. Going with my philosophy of “keep it simple,” I instead planted the potatoes in containers around my house.
If you would like to try planting potatoes in a container next spring, read on to learn how easy it is!
Container & Soil Selection
Large is better when planting potatoes in containers! Make sure there are holes in the containers for proper drainage. I put pieces of Styrofoam or empty milk jugs in the bottom to take up some of the space, so it doesn’t become too heavy to move. Next select a soil mix or potting soil which contains vermiculite or perlite which helps to keep the soil aerated and moist. A well-balanced mix with a Potential Hydrogen (pH) between 6.0 and 7.0 (neither too acidic nor too alkaline) is important so available nutrients are easily dissolved and absorbed!
What to Plant
I enjoy growing fingerling potatoes because they come in such rich and interesting colors of purple, blue, or pink! You can buy potato seed at a garden center, or you can order online. Here are a few of my favorites: Russian Banana, Purple Peruvian, and Rose Finn Apple.
Not only are the potatoes I planted in containers doing great, but I have not experienced problems with potato beetles either. I like to think that I have fooled the beetles into not knowing where the potatoes are. But for whatever reason, I’m glad I haven’t needed to treat them for an infestation this year. Potato plants should be examined regularly so you can treat them immediately at the first signs of beetles. You can treat with Neem Oil for the organic method, or sprinkle with Sevin.
Containers need water regularly. Use the finger method to determine if the soil is dry, or if your plants need water. It is also helpful to feed them every 10 days with an organic vegetable fertilizer. And don’t be concerned later in the season when the vegetation on the top begins to turn brown and whither, because this is normal and shows they are ready for harvest.
When to Harvest
Although I can’t resist digging some up a little sooner (because I just can’t wait to try them) potatoes should be harvested in the late fall. When planted in the ground, take extra care not to damage them as you dig them up. When you plant in containers, all you need to do is tip them over and they spill out.
How to Use Them
My favorite recipe is to wash and dry enough for a meal, then drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and some fresh chopped rosemary. Toss them to coat evenly, then spread the potatoes on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.