To say Americans love potatoes would be an understatement. According to the University of Michigan, the average American consumes nearly 138 lbs. of potatoes each year, with French fries and hash browns being the most commonly consumed potato product. Typically grown in large garden plots, potatoes reach heights of 3 feet or more and require hilling to prevent sun damage to the growing tubers and provide support for the growing plant. However, potatoes can be grown successfully in containers if provided adequate care.
Drill 1/2-inch drainage holes in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket. Space the holes 4 to 6 inches apart around the outside of the bucket, approximately 1/2 inch from the bottom.
Mix equal parts of potting soil (or garden loam), peat moss and perlite to create a lightweight potting medium. This mixture promotes drainage and provides adequate aeration for root. Potting soil or garden loam is heavy and compacts easily in containers.
Fill the bucket 1/2 full with potting medium. Add 1/4 cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer and mix in well with the soil. Reserve the remaining potting mixture.
Cut certified seed potatoes into two or three sections so each section has at least two eyes. Plant one section in the bucket and cover it with 2 to 3 inches of soil.
Water until water runs free from the bottom of the bucket. Keep the soil evenly moist, but avoid soggy soil.
Place the pots in an area that receives full sun for six to eight hours a day.
Mix 1/4 cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer with 1 gallon of the reserved potting mixture when plants are 6 to 8 inches high. Place the soil mixture around the stems of the potato plant. Add enough reserved soil to cover the stems of the plant, leaving the top 2 inches of foliage above the soil level.
Apply fertilizer again when plants are 12 to 16 inches tall, mixing it with reserved soil and following the procedure from step 7. Add soil to cover the stem, again leaving several inches of foliage above the soil level.
Water to keep soil evenly moist throughout the summer. Potatoes perform best with even moisture. Uneven watering results in misshapen tubers, and may hinder production.
Harvest in the fall when foliage yellows and dies back. Pull the foliage free of the soil and dig into the soil to locate potatoes.