If Spring Fever has you down, we have the perfect cure. Even though the ground is still cold and wet, you don’t have to wait to get your hands dirty. Jumpstart your season by planting potatoes in a pot. Even if you live in an apartment, or don’t have a garden at all, you can still grow a nice crop. Here’s what you’ll need:
1.) A container – we’ve come a long way since Grandma planted potatoes in her bushel basket. Today we have potato bags and pots that are specially designed to give you a great potato crop. These new and improved versions breathe well, allow for drainage, and look good! But any plastic, wooden or clay container will work as long as it has good drainage and is at least 14 inches across and 10 inches deep.
2.) Potting mix – we suggest you use the good stuff for best results. Start with our Fafard blend and mix in a few handfuls of compost.
3.) A slow-release fertilizer, such as Osmocote.*
4.) Seed potatoes – these aren’t the ones from the grocery store, which are treated with a growth inhibitor. Seed potatoes, which are grown especially for planting, are found at garden centers starting in late March. This year we have Russet Burbank, Red Norland, White Kennebec and Yukon Gold. Can’t decide which one to grow, why not try a pot of each?
Prepare your potatoes by cutting the medium and large ones into 2-inch chunks making sure each contains a couple of eyes. Put 3 inches of your potting soil mixture in the bottom of your pot. Evenly space 6-8 potato chunks on top of the soil. Cover with 3-4 inches of soil, water thoroughly, and place in the sun. Once your potatoes start to grow, water as needed, allowing the soil to partially dry out in between. Take care not to over water, which can cause the tubers to rot.
As your potatoes grow, add more soil to the container, keeping about 4 inches of foliage showing. Continue this process every few days until the container is filled to within one inch of the top. Let your potatoes grow all summer; feeding and watering as needed, when the foliage starts to yellow in late summer or fall, cut it off, dump out your soil, and you’ll have a pot full of taters! It’s that easy. Good Luck!
If you love those early new potatoes, dig carefully around the stems with your fingers after the potatoes have set bloom, to harvest a few. But keep in mind that each one you harvest young is one less big potato you’ll have later.
*Feeding your containers can be done either by mixing a general garden food in with your soil mix or by using Osmocote for a slow release season-long feeding. Either method should be supplemented with a Miracle Gro-type fertilizer applied when watering every 2-3 weeks early in the season, then monthly through the summer.
Stop on out and pick some up.