With sprouted Kennebec potatoes and sweet potato slips in hand, I returned home from the nursery to do a bit of reading. I wanted to make sure that I knew how to properly plant my latest purchases so that they’ll flourish in bags (my small space garden solution to growing potatoes).
And then, I saw a post describing using plain old grocery totes for growing potatoes. That’s dangerous information for someone who has an excess of those totes in my pantry, and a few too many sprouted potatoes.
I decided to conduct a test.
I would start the sprouted Kennebec potatoes two ways.
- I’ll plant half of the sprouted spuds in my purchased “potato grow bag” made of sturdy tarp-like material, with grommets for drainage in the bottom
- I would take the remaining potatoes and repeat the process using a run-of-the-mill grocery tote
I would do the same with my sweet potato vines
- 3 slips would be started in the official grow bag
- 3 slips would find their home in a standard grocery tote
I used the same mix of soil for all 4 bags (a mix of organic fertilizer and cow manure), and they’re all in the same location (full sun).
As my potatoes grow, I’m hoping to learn if it’s better to start the process from a sprouted potato or from an already vining plant. AND by adding the two additional grocery totes into the mix, I’ll find out if it’s really necessary to shell out money for a fancy potato grow bag, or if you can simply repurpose a grocery tote from YOUR pantry and get the same results!
The Planting Process
But for starters, here’s how you grow potatoes in a bag (both fancy and reused).
From A Sprouted Potato:
- Roll the sides of the bag down until the bag is about 6 inches high. (If you leave it with the sides up, you’ll block the sun and be growing potatoes in the dark.)
- Put about 2 inches of high quality soil in the bottom of the bag.
- Place the whole potatoes, sprouts sides up on top of the soil, and cover with about 2 more inches of soil. (You’ll have about 4 inches of soil total.) Water them thoroughly. (And continue to water them as they grow of course).
- Roll the sides of the bag down until the bag is about 6 inches high and fill with approximately 2 inches of high quality soil.
- Gently remove the slips from the container (or from your potato if you grew them yourself).
- Place them in the soil and then bury them with soil until just the top leaves poke out. This probably means you’ll bury some of the lower leaves. That’s okay! Just keep burying them until the top few leaves poke out. This encourages the plant to create more roots and ultimately more potatoes!
From this point forward, the process is the same for both sets of potatoes.
Once the leaves get to be about 6-8 inches high, bury the plant until only the top leaves stick out from the soil.
Here on my micro-homestead, I’m in a holding pattern. They’re in the bags, topped with soil, and now I wait. I’ll post an update once it’s time to add more dirt!
P.S. Potatoes have a long growing season, which means where I live in Virginia (zone 7), potatoes go in the ground (or in bags) now but they likely won’t be ready for harvesting until early fall.
Do you have any potato growing tips to share?
Have you grown them in containers?
In the ground?