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How to Plant Potatoes in a Bag

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How to Plant Potatoes in a Bag

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Overview

There's one thing gardeners generally don't like about potatoes: dig, dig, dig. You trench them in, you hill them up, you dig them out. By the time they get to your dinner plate, you're ready to butter them with your shovel. From Swedish farmers, who plant potatoes in piles of hay, to American vegetable growers who've gotten one last use out of old tires, gardeners have applied considerable ingenuity to methods that produce dig-free potatoes. Some gardeners report success with growing potatoes in bags. Consider potato bags, and choose one to try in your garden.

Step 1

For all kinds of grow bags, make sure that you have access to approximately 15 gallons of potting soil or topsoil (with one exception), and either well-sprouted potatoes from the grocery store or seed potatoes. Seed potatoes are preferable because of disease resistance. Each bag will accommodate three to five seed potatoes, or approximately 1/2 pound to 1 pound. On an early to mid-spring day, select a location that will get at least four to six hours of summer sun.

Step 2

Get your chosen bag prepared to work as a potato bin. You can use a heavyweight trash or contractor plastic bag, the heavy plastic bag that compost came in, a premade landscape cloth bag or one you have stitched together yourself. Like any impermeable container, a heavy trash bag or compost bag will need several drainage holes cut in the bottom to keep accumulated water from rotting potatoes. Landscape cloth bags are permeable and can be used as is.

Step 3

Set your bag in its sunny garden spot and fill it one-third full of soil. Space the potatoes at least 4 inches apart, and nestle them down in the soil without covering them completely. Roll the edges of the bag down in a deep cuff, so that sun can reach the potatoes inside. As the plants grow, you will add more soil and roll the cuff up to keep it in the bag. Those who suggest using a plastic bag of compost dump out all but one-third of the compost, store it, and add it back to the bag as the plants grow. At the end of the season, they point out that old potato plants and their compost soil can be used to enrich another garden bed.

Step 4

Water your potatoes at least once a week, checking impermeable bags to make sure drainage holes let out extra water. As plants sprout and grow, keep adding soil so that only the top clusters of leaves stick out. You may add soil two or three times during the growing season, rolling up the bag cuff as you go. Plants seldom need staking or other support; the weight of the soil is usually adequate. Occasionally, gardeners find that full bags do better leaned against a wall or fence.

Step 5

After vines have bloomed, yellowed and died off, tip your bag over to harvest your potatoes. You can go through the bag with your hands--no more cutting the biggest prize in half with your dirty shovel. Cut solid plastic bags with a knife, and throw them away after harvesting. Permeable landscape fabric bags can be rinsed under the hose and saved for another couple of seasons.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed potatoes
  • Top soil or potting soil
  • OR Compost and its bag
  • OR Heavy weight plastic trash bag
  • OR Landscape-fabric bag
  • Small shovel or trowel
  • Sunny location
  • Water

References

  • Ed Hume Seeds: Growing Potatoes
  • Gardeners Supply Company: Instructions for the Potato Grow Bag
Keywords: plant potatoes, in a bag, tips and strategies

About this Author

Janet Beal holds a Harvard B.A. in English and a College of New Rochelle M.S in early childhood education. She has worked as a college textbook editor, HUD employee, caterer, and teacher. She is pleased to be part of Demand Studios' exciting community of writers and readers.

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