Growing Potatoes in Potato Grow Bags
Have you ever grown your own potatoes? There is nothing like the taste of the homegrown variety. They are so soft and buttery on their own! While I loved digging into the warm soil and finding the little treasures, so did the chipmunks and other little animals. I decided to finally try growing potatoes in potato grow bags to see if that would be any better, and I wanted to share my experience with you. This is also a great way to grow potatoes if you don’t have a huge garden or only have a small space like a patio.
I bought 5 5-gallon bags and a few bags of organic soil to fill my pack of bags with from Amazon. I know I can easily life 5-gallon bags with the weight of the dirt, and for me 10-gallon bags become really heavy. In my opinion, the best potato grow bags have handles so you can move them around the yard if needed. You can watch the video with this post on Jennifer Rizzo TV to see how I put my bags together and filled them with dirt. I know some people have also used burlap sacks, barrels or even pots ( if you used a pot, make sure it has drainage holes.). I picked this style of potato bag because it seems sturdy and even had a small flap on the side to dig out new potatoes. It felt very similar to planting in a raised bed.
I set them in an area where they would get full sunlight and plenty if rain water. Potatoes also need good drainage otherwise they will rot,and I actually planted mine late in the season this last year (August) so full sun was even more important. I wasn’t sure how much of a harvest I was going to get. I used seed potatoes this time around, thought normally I used chitted potatoes ( to chit your potatoes, use potato seeds or potatoes that have been cut to each have an eye and then left out a day to two to callous or dry off. See this post here for more info.)
I put about 6 inches of loose soil in the bottom of the bag, and then placed my seed potato on top. In some bags, I placed two potato varieties to see how they performed as an experiment. Then the rest of the tuber is covered with another inch or so of dirt. You can also mix in some compost. My favorite variety of yellow potato is Yukon Gold which is a waxier type of potato. I also love red potatoes, they are so yummy roasted and hold up well in cold potato salads.
Be cautious when adding compost when growing potatoes. Adding too many of the wrong nutrients can lead to lots of top leafing and not enough potato growth.
Then the waiting happens for the first sprouts to emerge from the dirt. Once the shoots emerge from the top, keep an eye on them until they are about 8-10 inches above the soil, then add another layer up to the top of the leaves. The nice thing I noticed about using the bags over just planting them straight in the ground is that I didn’t have to use as much soil. With traditional methods you have to use a mound to cover your potato plants, and this requires a lot more dirt as it slides down the mound. On the flat ground this is called “hilling”. A few varieties require more hilling of soil than others depending on how the variety of potato grows unerground, so always double check before you add more dirt which variety you have.
Keep covering the stem until you reach the top of the bag. The nice thing about using bags is that you can also use a netting or fabric to keep the foliage a little more protected from pests. Fungal diseases are a little harder to combat, which is why it’s important to grow them from certified seed potatoes, and not grow them near tomatoes or other vegetables in the same family.
Once the potatoes flower, you can harvest new potatoes. That’s what make the flaps so great. You can reach right in the side and pull out those baby spuds and not disturb the top of the plant so it can keep growing.
If your potato plant produces tiny tomato-like fruits, wear gloves and cut them off the throw them out. They are extremely toxic and steal energy from the plant. Most people don’t realize every part of the potato plant is toxic if ingested except the actual potatoes. Also, don’t eat any potatoes that are green or have been exposed to sunlight. Those also contain the toxin solanine.
I typically like to plant my seed potatoes in once the weather is frost-free in April for a June/ July harvest. This year I took my chances and planted them in August. We had a somewhat mild beginning of winter with lots of full sunlight, so I ended up putting a tarp over them on any night a frost was predicted. It did get a Thanksgiving harvest, which was pretty cool, it was a smaller yield than normal, but it was still really cool to get fresh potatoes in November! Next year I’ll do a planting between in June for a September harvest time.
I would definitely recommend growing potatoes in potato grow bags over growing them right in the ground. It was so much easier to harvest, and much neater.I also didn’t have the issue with animals eating the tubers before me. And it was really fun to be able to harvest as late as I did.