How to grow potatoes in bags - this space saving technique can save you money and provide a fresh source of 'Dirt Cheap' food!

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  • Growing Potatoes In Bags

    DIY: Grow Your Own Potatoes in Small Spaces

    Get the Best Yields with the Least Work Using the Garbage Bag Method

    by Angie Mohr

    Living in the city, it can be hard to find a place in your garden for potatoes. Potatoes grown conventionally take up a lot of growing space and are time-intensive when it's time to dig them up. There are benefits
    to growing your own potatoes, though.

    You have a much wider selection than that which you get in the grocery store. You will also have a ready supply of baby
    new potatoes, considered an expensive delicacy if you have to purchase them. There are, however, many different methods to growing potatoes in your small garden that save time, space and work. I have tried many of these methods, but the garbage bag method is the easiest and most productive.

    To use the garbage bag method of growing potatoes, all you need is a sturdy garbage bag, like Glad Force Flex, some compost, shredded leaves and seed potatoes. You can purchase certified seed potatoes from a nursery or use sprouted potatoes from your pantry.
    Seed potatoes are your best bet, as they are certified disease-free and come in many varieties and colors, from yellow to pink to purple and blue. Cut larger potatoes into pieces that have two or three eyes each. Let potato pieces sit
    out to dry overnight.

    When you are ready to plant, fill the garbage bag four inches deep with compost. Roll down sides of bag until just above the level of the soil. Poke holes with the point of a pair of scissors around the exterior of the bag just below the soil line.

    Sit the bag where it will get at least six hours of full sun every day. It can be by a fence, on your balcony or in a sunny unused area of your yard. Plant three seed potato chunks into the soil and cover shallowly. Water lightly. The black garbage bag will provide extra warmth to the potatoes in the spring and fall and they will grow faster than if they were in the ground.

    When shoots sprout from the potatoes and the first leaves appear, roll bag sides up to top of shoots and fill with shredded leaves until only the top leaves are visible. Water lightly. Continue to fill bag as growth continues until either the bag is full or flowers appear.

    The shoots will continue to seek sunlight and will grow upwards
    as long as you keep covering most of the growth. This gives the potato plants extra length to sprout growing shoots. The bag will begin to expand outward as well as upward, giving the potatoes more space to grow.

    After the potato plant blooms, it will send out subterranean shoots that will bear the potatoes. The potatoes will grow in all levels of the bag due to the continuous covering. After bloom, you may sneak your hand in and around the shredded leaves to "grabble" for some baby new potatoes, leaving the others to reach maturity.

    Continue watering throughout the season. Whenever the weather threatens storms or late frosts, pull the top of the garbage bag closed to protect the plants. Make sure to open it back up as soon as possible to give the plants air circulation.

    Two to three weeks after the potato plant's foliage dies back, you are ready to harvest your main crop of potatoes. It couldn't be simpler: simply rip open the garbage bag and sift through the
    shredded leaves for the potatoes. There is far less chance of damaging the potato skins than there would be if you were digging them up with a spade.

    Add the leaves, compost and spent plant back into the compost pile and leave the potatoes in a cool, dry, sheltered area to cure for three days. Do not wash until you are ready to use each potato or you will shorten its storage life.

    If you have never eaten a home-grown potato, you have no idea what you're in for. The taste of a homegrown potato far surpasses a store-bought one and has more nutrients. Once you find how easy it is to grow potatoes in small spaces, you will be hooked!


    Alternatively, along the same guidelines, you can grow 100 pounds of potatoes in about 4 square feet of space.

    How to build a potato box to grow 100 pounds of potatoes in 4 square feet

    Can Stock Photo Inc. / lcswart

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    Comments 16 Comments
    1. 1ptcruiser's Avatar
      1ptcruiser -
      Tomato balcony/deck circular bags are also available in most hardware stores. Unfold, unroll and start filling with a bit of soil. Add potatoes and follow the same routine as above poster states. The store bought potato bags also have a front drop door where you can open the flap to gain access to potatoes on the bottom without having to dump the whole bag
    1. 1ptcruiser's Avatar
      1ptcruiser -
      Awesome idea poster. Didn't know I can also grow potatoes indoors
    1. pumpkin51's Avatar
      pumpkin51 -
      I've used a 50 gal drum, but never in a bag, going to try it would have to be easier to harvest the potatoes
    1. Irishcolleen's Avatar
      Irishcolleen -
      I have some Black Kow compost (cow manure) that I bought from Lowe's. Would it be ok to use that, or is it too strong?
    1. Irishcolleen's Avatar
      Irishcolleen -
      Would it burn the potatoes?
    1. JanMarie50's Avatar
      JanMarie50 -
      Gardener P Allen Smith plants his in 1/2 bushel baskets with the bottoms cut out.
    1. SCMary's Avatar
      SCMary -
      I have got to try growing potatoes and sweet potatoes. Thanks for posting.
    1. geno4952's Avatar
      geno4952 -
      What a great idea. I wonder if they can be grown indoors in the winter. I live in upstate NY. Grow light or regular sunshine.....??
    1. brchbell's Avatar
      brchbell -
      Wondering if this will work in our sun room during the winter time. I'm sure going to try a small batch to see if it works!
    1. NanaPorter's Avatar
      NanaPorter -
      Great idea for my 4-H group.
    1. maryvanwinkle's Avatar
      maryvanwinkle -
      this works. I did it last year with a feed bag and some seed potatoes I had. no weeding and you can reuse dirt again after you harvest your potatoes or tators in our house.
    1. shelliv's Avatar
      shelliv -
      Not trying to sound ignorant but "shredded leaves"?? where does one find or how to make shredded leaves. No trees around here, is there an alternative??
    1. lala72's Avatar
      lala72 -
      Thank you for reposting the article. I think it'll be fun to plant some taters this fall.
    1. Silverjools's Avatar
      Silverjools -
      Quote Originally Posted by shelliv View Post
      Not trying to sound ignorant but "shredded leaves"?? where does one find or how to make shredded leaves. No trees around here, is there an alternative??
      Did you ever get an answer to this question? I'm glad you asked because I was about to myself. I have no idea what they mean by "shredded leaves" either ...
    1. geno4952's Avatar
      geno4952 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Silverjools View Post
      Did you ever get an answer to this question? I'm glad you asked because I was about to myself. I have no idea what they mean by "shredded leaves" either ...
      Just to try and clarify what shredded leaves are..... If you live where there are trees that lose their leaves in the fall if you rake them up into a pile and run them over with your lawn mower a few times and viola.... shredded leaves. If you don't have any trees around you could go to a garden center or Walmart (good old Wally world). and get some compost and peat moss and mix them in with some regular soil and it should work. Compost is cheap...2-3 bucks a bag.(20 or 30 lbs a bag). They also sell bags of manure to use as fertilizer. Hope this helps...... Peace
    1. geno4952's Avatar
      geno4952 -
      QUOTE=Silverjools;1079414]Did you ever get an answer to this question? I'm glad you asked because I was about to myself. I have no idea what they mean by "shredded leaves" either ...[/QUOTE]

      If you have leaves in the fall rake them into a pile and run them over with your lawn mower a few times and.....viola....shredded leaves. If not you could try a compost, peat moss, soil mixture. You can get the compost and moss at Walmart or a garden center. Walmart also sells manure in bags (no smell) you can use for fertilizer. Hope this helps.... good luck..... Peace

      Edit..... just reread the post and realized my idea won't work......I guess instead of the leaves being added (if you don't have any)you could use the compost and moss, mostly moss I would think,(2/3 moss to 1/3 compost) as doing otherwise might get too bulky. Anyway.... good luck with your taters.......Peace

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