4 Ways to Grow Potatoes - Pros & Cons
- In the Ground, Containers

Raised Beds & in Straw

how to grow Potatoes - container, trench, raised beds and in straw - pros and cons  banner

Growing Potato Methods:
I have grown potatoes using different methods over the years, but my favourite way to grow potatoes is in Straw.

Growing Potatoes in ground - trench method.

Make a shallow trench about 3 feet apart.
Plant potatoes 6 inch deep and cover them with 4-5 inches of soil and plant 6 inch apart.
When you see potato leaves, hill up your potatoes and mulch with leaves or straw to keep the potatoes covered. When the potatoes are exposed to sunlight it turns the expose potatoes green and develops a mild toxic substance called "solanine". Keeping the potatoes hilled up also encourages additional root development and extra potatoes.
Hilling potatoes is just digging up more soil from the rows and mounding it up around the potato plants.
When potatoes start blooming stop hilling up potatoes and apply thick mulch to conserve moisture. Water deeply during dry spells.
Harvesting Potatoes:
I wait until the potato tops are turning yellow or died. Most of the time the Critters beat me to it, but I use that clue to pick a few early potatoes.
Harvest Potatoes, wash and dry in well ventilated place for a week. They will store for months.
Pros:
Easy to water, amend the soil, weeding and hilling potatoes.
Cons: Critters will dig up your potatoes. That's when I know my potatoes are ready to harvest. I usually find my biggest potatoes on the lawn. :)

Growing Potatoes in Raised Beds

I do the trench method.
The only problem I have using this method is hilling and keeping the critters out.
I gave up on hilling and covered my seed potatoes with chicken wire. I had to weigh down the chicken wire and the Critters still managed to get the first potato harvest. :)
Pros:
Easy to amend soil, water, weed and cultivate.
Cons:
Hilling the soil to cover the potatoes. That's really hard in raised beds, unless you get in the bed and that will compact your soil.

Growing Potatoes in Containers:

I tried this because the Critters kept on digging my potatoes.
It was easy amend the soil and I mulched the potatoes with gravel and the Critters left it alone.
Planting in containers:
I filled my container a 1/3 full of bought soil.
Dropped in 4 - 5 "chitted potatoes".
Covered the whole pot with chicken wire, because of my backyard Critters.
Waited until the potato plants were 6 - 8 " tall, removed chicken wire and added another layer of soil, more potatoes and mulched the whole potato pot with gravel. Critters at my house don't like digging in gravel. Don't let the soil dry out too much.
Pros:
Easy to amend soil, water and cultivate.
Cons: It needs more watering, especially if it's a dark small container.
Dumping the container over to harvest the potatoes can be heavy work.

Growing Potatoes in Straw

This my favourite Method.
Planting:
I make a shallow trench, drop my potatoes or potato chunks, cover with straw, water it and I'm done.
Even the Critters are leaving the potatoes alone. Maybe they don't like the feel of the straw or it's too much efford to dig through the mulch.
Harvesting:
Pull the straw back and just dig them up. Either with my hands or a small trowel.
Pros: No more piercing your biggest potato with a fork when harvest time comes around. No hilling and no weeding. My favourite method of growing potatoes.
Cons: No cons - unless you can't buy the straw or you have to bring the straw home in your car. :)

Planting, Growing, Harvesting Potatoes:

Where to buy seed potatoes?

Most garden centres and Hardware stores sell them, including Walmart.

Do you need bought seed potatoes for potatoes to grow?

No.
Make sure your potatoes are not sprayed to prevent sprouting. I buy regular local potatoes and if they sprout in the potato bin they are good for potato seeds in the spring. I usually buy extra potatoes in March.

To Chit or Not to Chit Potatoes?

I Chit potatoes. It's not hard and it gives my potatoes an early start when it's time to plant them. I just layer a few sheets of newspaper down somewhere in the sun, indoors and out of the way. Spread the potatoes on the newspapers or towels and wait for them to sprout.

Do I need to quarter my seed Potatoes?

I only quarter large potatoes. Leaving one or two eyes per potato section. If the potatoes are small, I plant the whole potato and just remove the extra potato eyes, leaving either one eye or two eyes per potato. After cutting up the potato, let the potato dry and harden off before planting.

How much Sun do Potatoes need?

As much as you can give them. I have mine growing in full sun.

When to plant and Harvest Potatoes?

Plant:
I plant my potatoes as soon as I can get them in the ground. It's usually around the middle of May.
Harvest: When potatoes start to bloom is a sign that small potatoes are ready for picking. Pull aside some of the soil and harvest the early ones for supper. The rest, I wait until the potato plant dies and it's around the middle of August.

The secret of growing Potatoes?

1. Full sun, lots of space and good fertile well drained soil.
2. PH = 5.2 - 5.7
3. Plant potatoes 4 inches deep.
4. 2 - 3 feet between rows. Sprouts should appear 1 - 2 weeks.
5. Harvest: 90 - 120 days.
6. Pests: Potato Beetle. I usually hand pick them and look for larva and eggs. Eggs are little dots under the leaves.
7. Fertilizer: I use compost and compost teas or a chemical fertilizer that is low in Nitrogen.

How I grow Sweet Potatoes