Planting Potatoes in Containers
Planting Potatoes in Containers

Planting Potatoes in Containers

3 min read
Written by Amy Bumbacco

Seed potato with eyes

This winter, my fiancé and I moved into a new bungalow in Kitchener. It was a happy surprise to see the melting snow uncover an array of backyard perennial flower gardens. We even discovered a few raspberry bushes! We would love to grow more food but since we are renting it is difficult to invest in or alter the landscape. But not to worry, we’ve started growing vegetables in containers! If you also face obstacles to growing a garden but have access to some sunny outdoor space, here’s how you can get started growing potatoes in pots.

The first thing you’ll want to do is find a food grade container. If it doesn’t have holes in the bottom, make sure to drill a few holes for proper drainage. The larger the container, the more potato plants you’ll be able to grow. The plants should be spaced about 1 foot apart.

Of course, you’ll also need seed potatoes! Seed potatoes are whole or pieces of actual potatoes that have “eyes” (i.e. sprouts) on them which are the growing points of the potato. If you’ve ever left your potatoes in your kitchen for too long, you’ve probably seen potato eyes before.

Once you have a container and seed potatoes ready, fill your container with soil about 6” from the bottom. Place the seed potatoes on top of the soil with the eyes facing up. Cover the seed potatoes with about 4” of soil and then water them in.

Not too long after, you’ll see the potato plants emerge from the soil. This is always an exciting moment! When the shoot is about 6” tall, put more soil in your container so that it covers about ¾ of the shoot. Continue this process throughout the season until the soil is about an inch from the top of the container.

Now, this trick for increasing your harvest is the part I find the most interesting and fun about growing potatoes! The plant will set out underground stems (known as stolons) and grow potatoes in the first layer of soil that was placed in the container. As you add soil to the container, you’re encouraging the plant to set out more stolons and develop more potatoes so that you end up with a full container of awesome veggies! This is also the reasoning behind creating mounds of soil on top of potato plantings in the ground (commonly referred to as ‘hilling’). The potato plant will grow potatoes in the ground and then continue to create potatoes in the hill. And I think we can all agree — the more potatoes, the better!

Harvest your potatoes when the foliage has died back and be sure to harvest on a dry day.

Comment with your favourite potato recipe!