I love the idea of growing more in less space, especially if I spend little to no money and glean greater benefits, and I love home grown potatoes. There’s something magical (childhood magical) about digging through the earth to find potato after potato and, like catching your own fish, they always taste better than anything you can get at the store. And better still, you don’t need the perfect raised bed or veggie plot, you can grow your own with what’s at hand — like that stack of grocery bags by your front door waiting to make the trip back to your car.
Bags designed for growing food and flowers have their advantages but so too do reusable grocery bags. They not only fulfill the same purpose, they have handles making them easy to move around and they cost about a buck compared to the average grow bag which costs about $20 (but range from about $10 to $50 depending on quality and size).
Here’s how to grow potatoes in a bag:
- Start with organic potato seed. Buy it at your nursery, mail order or get some from a friend growing potatoes. Just be sure it’s from disease free stock (so it’s generally not recommended to use old potatoes from your fridge).
- Potato seed are potatoes. The points where the eyes develop are actually the start of new plants.
- Cut seed potatoes into chunks with 2 to 3 eyes per piece. You can let these dry for a couple days before planting to reduce risk of rotting or chuck them straight in the soil to live dangerously (I usually choose the latter).
- Fill your grocery bag (no modifications required) with about 4 inches of soil and place your seed on top. Space them about 6 inches apart, planting 3 to 4 per bag. (*When growing potatoes in a bed or rows give them more room, planting them about 12 inches apart.)
- Cover your seed with 2 inches of soil.
- As your potatoes sprout and grow, continue adding soil. This is called “hilling-up”. When I hill-up potatoes I leave a bit of green leaves showing each time.
- Hill-up your potatoes repeatedly until your bag is filled to the top.
- Harvest when potato plants flower for new potatoes or, if you’d like mature potatoes, harvest when the tops are brown and dry. Either way, stop watering your potatoes 2 to 3 days before you plan to harvest so the soil can dry out, making harvesting easier.
- To harvest, simply empty the contents of your bag, sort through and presto! Tonights dinner.
*I’m growing Yellow Finn potatoes next because a friend found them to be more productive, yielding a bigger crop. More bang for your buck is always good. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how my next crop turns out.