This step by step guide with pictures shows how to grow potatoes in a bag which is a great option for small spaces, gardens with poor soils and drought affected areas.
Growing potatoes in a bag takes a little preparation and care but the effort is worth it. This is a fun project for kids and adults alike.
Yes, always use seed potatoes as they will be free of disease and will have a higher yield. Seed potatoes can be found at your local garden centre from the middle of winter.
Choose a spot protected from strong winds which gets at least half a day’s sun. Some bags which don’t have a round or square bottom may need to lean against a wall for support.
Preparing Seed Potatoes for Planting in a Bag
If the seed potatoes are not yet sprouting or have not formed eyes then place in a brown paper bag in your pantry. Check every few days then remove when the eyes begin to sprout roots.
Cut the potatoes into 3 or 4 chunks with at least one eye on each chunk then let the cut sides scab over. This process can be accelerated by placing the cut sides into cool potash from your wood fire.
Once the scabs have formed which can take up to a week then they are ready to plant in the bag. Allowing scabs to form will prevent the chunks from drawing in excess moisture which can cause them to go rotten.
Choosing a Potato Bag
There are many potato bags available on the market. If you are looking to purchase a potato bag then look for one with a flap at the bottom which makes it easy to harvest the potatoes as they grow.
Also look for ventilation holes at the bottom of the bag which improves aeration and bags which can be reused so you don’t have to purchase one again for a few years. This top rated pack of 4 potato bags have aeration holes and a side flap. Best of all they are reusable and great value. (Paid link)
Another option is to use burlap or hessian bags which can be cheaper to buy. Large feed bags which may have stored grains for feeding stock can also be reused as a potato bag. Make sure the bag is clean and hasn’t been used for storing chemicals.
How to Grow Potatoes in a Bag
This is a simple method of layering soil and aged manure or compost around the stems as the plants grow to the top of the bag. Roots and potatoes will form along the stems as the potato plant grows.
Tools and Materials Needed
- Seed Potatoes
- Potato Bag
- Potting Mix
- Aged Manure or Compost
- Liquid Fertilizer – This organic liquid kelp concentrate promotes strong root development and its highly rated. (Paid link)
How to grow potatoes in a bag in the home garden.
- Prepare the Bag then Plant the Seed Potatoes
First place the bag in its final position then put in 2 inches (5cm) of potting mix, 2 inches (5cm) of aged manure or compost then another 2 inches (5cm) of potting mix. Place 2 to 4 seed potato chunks on top of the soil 2 to 3 inches apart.
- Cover with Soil
Place another 2 inches (5cm) of potting mix on top of the potatoes then 2 inches (5cm) of aged manure or compost.
- Wait for the Potato Plant to Grow
Water well then water regularly so the soil stays moist but not water logged. Keep an eye on the bag until the potato stems have grown 6 inches (15cm) above the soil level.
- Add More Soil Around the Stems
Add 2 more layers of potting mix and aged manure or compost around the stems leaving an inch (2.5cm) of growth above the soil level.
- Continue Filling the Bag as the Potato Grows
Continue adding more layers of potting mix and aged manure as the stems grow higher until you have reached 1 to 2 inches (2.5cm to 5cm) below the top of the bag.
- Potato Plant Care
Now you can let the stems branch out and flower. Continue to water regularly then apply a liquid fertilizer every two weeks for the best results. It is a good idea to make a small hole in the bottom of the potato bag on both sides if there isn’t already one there to make sure the water has filtered down to the bottom of the bag. If the bag is on a lean the water may only filter down one side.
- Harvesting Potatoes
The potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves begin to yellow and die off however you can harvest the potatoes a they grow. Simply dig down a little or open the side flap to pick the potatoes.
- Removing Potatoes from the Bag
To harvest all of the potatoes you can either tip the bag out on the ground or get a friend to help you lift the bag into a wheelbarrow then empty out into the barrow. Any leftover soil can be added to the garden however, if the potatoes had disease it is best to discard the soil so you don’t spread the disease to other plants.
For short term storage; home grown potatoes can be placed in a basket in a low shelf in your pantry. This will be the coolest spot as hot air rises. They won’t need to be cured if they are to be used within the next month.
For long term storage; cure the potatoes then place in a burlap or hessian bag. These bags allow air flow around the potatoes and block out light. Place in a root cellar or a cool place away from direct sunlight. This set of 4 burlap bags are the perfect size for storing potatoes and are made from 100% all natural jute fabric. (Paid link)
For more information on curing potatoes and growing potatoes in the ground, see this guide to Growing Potatoes in the Home Garden.
Make sure there is always soil covering the potatoes as sunlight will turn the potatoes green. Green potatoes should not be eaten.
Fresh potatoes have a creamier texture when cooked than store bought. If you haven’t had success growing potatoes in the ground or you have had trouble with pests getting into your potatoes then growing potatoes in a bag is definitely worth a try.
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