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How to grow 100 pounds of potatoes in 4 steps

Container gardening isn’t only for savvy urban gardeners and folks with limited space to grow, it can also be for folks who want to maximize their yields in a controlled environment. Not only does growing potatoes in a barrel reduce the amount of weeding and exposure to pests and fungi, you don’t even have to risk shovel-damage to the tender potatoes by digging them out of the ground when they’re done, just tip the container over!

After extensive research to plan his own potatoes-in-a-barrel, Tim from Greenupgrader.com boiled all of the recommendations down to 4 simple steps to a winning potato harvest.

1. Select and prepare a container

You’ll need to pick out a container such as a 50-gallon trash barrel or one of those half whiskey barrel planters. Alternatively, you can buy used food-grade barrels or commercially-available potato planters. Just about any 2 to 3-foot tall container will work, but be sure to select a container that either already has holes in it, or is okay to cut holes in. Next you’ll want to clean your container with a mild bleach solution to get out any of the nasties that have been lingering in there.

Good drainage is critical for the cultivation of healthy potatoes so you’ll want to cut or drill a series of large drainage holes in the bottom and bottom sides of your container. Alternatively, you can cut out the bottom altogether and place it on a well-drained surface like your garden bed.

seed-potatoes

2. Choose a variety and plant potatoes

Seed potatoes can usually be found at nurseries early in the growing season, but you should only have to buy them once. If you can, “chit” or sprout your potatoes before planting them by setting them out in an egg carton, the side with the most buds facing up, and putting them in a cool light room out of direct sunlight to sprout. Putting the tubers in an open paper bag can have this same effect.

Fill in the bottom of your container with about 6 inches of loose planting mix and compost. You’ll want to use a planting mix with a peat moss-like soil amendment like this product made from repurposed coconut husks, doing so will keep the soil from becoming too compacted and help it to store moisture for the roots. Next, add some seed potatoes on the layer of soil, making certain to leave plenty of space between each cube. You can use the whole potato but I like to cut the potatoes into 1 to 2-inch cubes for planting. Loosely backfill the potatoes with another 6 inches of your soil and compost mix and water to dampen soil. Keep the soil damp at all times but be careful not to overwater.

3. Add more soil

When they have about 6 to 8 inches of foliage, add another layer of your soil-compost mix covering about one-half to three-quarters of the visible stems and foliage. Repeat this process of allowing the sprouts to grow and then covering the sprouts and moistening the soil as the plants grow up toward the top of the barrel.

Barrel potatoes

4. Harvest the potatoes

After about 10 weeks or until the plants flower and start to yellow, the potatoes should be ready to harvest. Carefully dig down with your hands to inspect the top-most layer. After you’ve confirmed your suspicions, dump the barrel out on a tarp and inspect your bounty.

Other tips to grow bushels of barrel potatoes

  • After the first harvest, keep a few potatoes to use as seed potatoes next year.
  • Bush beans are a great companion plant for potatoes.
  • Instead of using soil, try growing potatoes in sawdust.
  • Experiment with different containers, seed potatoes and watering regimes.
  • If the above steps aren’t sufficient, do some more research. Try here.

Have any photos or useful tips for growing potatoes in a barrel? Please share!

Photos: CC licensed via flickr users: Forestry ImagesCrinklecrackle.com;GraibeardDaves CupboardSunfellEnjoyGardeningvyuseem




arrow116 Responses

  1. Rassie
    26 mos, 1 wk ago

    Why don’t you make it possible to print the article
    THX’s

  2. 26 mos ago

    Not sure how to do that

  3. jessiet
    26 mos ago

    Right click and choose “Print” it may or may not work.

  4. Holly
    25 mos, 4 wks ago

    Hey, thanks for this article! I’m eager to give it a try.

  5. 25 mos, 3 wks ago

    sweet!

  6. 25 mos, 2 wks ago

    great idea! WILL THIS WORK FOR SWEET POTATOES??

  7. krp
    25 mos, 2 wks ago

    Probably. What would it hurt to try?

  8. 25 mos, 2 wks ago

    yes it will. sweet potatoes are tubers as well. the time of year will differ between the two

  9. 25 mos, 1 wk ago

    so by slowly layering the soil over time, are you forcing the potatoes to grow extensive roots so you get a bigger harvest? Is that the purpose?

  10. Caroline
    25 mos ago

    I have seen this done using old tyres aswell. A great way to up cycle. Thanks for the article!!

  11. Caroline
    25 mos ago

    I have seen this done using old tyres as well. A great way to up cycle!! Thanks for the article!!!

  12. Amy
    24 mos, 3 wks ago

    I use 40 lb dog food bags to plant potatoes. I place rocks in the bottom for stability, slit the top sides of the bag so that it will fold down easily to the widest part of the bag, fill with dirt, and poke holes in the sides of the bag for drainage. It works great! you can wrap the bags in burlap if you don’t like how they look!

  13. 24 mos, 1 wk ago

    Very good idea!! Today I am going to start grow potatoes in my garden by this way.

  14. Anonymous
    24 mos ago

    “Select” “Copy” and save in your Word program. Then you can print it

  15. Kim
    21 mos, 4 wks ago

    How much sunlight does this need when you plant the seed potatoes?

  16. 21 mos, 4 wks ago

    I think I understand the “Add Soil” step … I assume this is to allow the stem of the sprout to root in the new soil mixture added? Correct?

  17. ramona
    21 mos, 3 wks ago

    I love to try new ways to plant and qrow thx .

  18. Jessica DePonceau
    21 mos ago

    If you click on file on your browser’s menu/add on bar then click on print preview in the drop down box you can select the pages & settings you want to print

  19. Anonymous
    20 mos, 3 wks ago

    Please don’t use old tyres! They are made using toxic metals & chemicals that leach into your potatoes. The theory is great but it’s not healthy.

  20. Loretta
    20 mos, 3 wks ago

    We tried this…and we would have had more potatoes to eat if we would have just eaten the seed potatoes we planted! the plants looked great…but when it came time to harvest…we couldn’t even find the seed potatoes we planted. sure wish we knew what we did wrong.

  21. charlotte
    20 mos, 3 wks ago

    Same here, Loretta!

  22. 20 mos, 2 wks ago

    Hi there, where can I find the barrel with the door on the bottom? Thanks!

  23. Kellie
    20 mos, 2 wks ago

    I’m a new gardener. How do you store the potatoes for using as seed potatoes for the next year so that they don’t rot??
    Thanks!

  24. CreativeGrammie
    20 mos, 2 wks ago

    Thanks for this great idea! I’d like to do this with some sweet potatoes, I have some sprouting already. Will this take about 10 weeks to havest time too like the regular potatoes?
    Thanks again!

  25. Anonymous
    20 mos, 2 wks ago

    Another great idea growing a purple sweet potatoes. I have a hard time where to buy this. And, thanks for sharing this…

  26. 20 mos, 1 wk ago

    @Mike, yes. Add soil up around the stem as the plant grows. This is called “Mounding” and it works because potato, as well as tomatoes, stems will become roots. Leave the top 4-6 inches exposed to light, as the plant grows in height, add soil (I have heard that hay works as well).

    @Amy, Brilliant! Dog food bags and bags for mounding potatoes, awesome.

  27. LOIS CLARK
    20 mos, 1 wk ago

    TRIED WITH USING TIRES AND HAD NO LUCK. EVERTHING ELSE IN MY GARDEN FLURISHED BUT THEM.

  28. Kim Meseck
    19 mos, 4 wks ago

    Thank you, Matt, my question also. The sweet potatoes are so much more nutritious and flavorful than white.

  29. Kim Meseck
    19 mos, 4 wks ago

    Camelia,

    If you have the time, you could cut one out yourself. Draw the size of diameter hole you wish with a ruler and permanent marker. Take a power drill to drill holes into each corner. If you have a jig saw, cut your along your outline to cut your door out. If not, you can use a small triangular shaped saw to start cutting in one of the drilled holes with, and cut your opening. Go to Home Depot or Lowes and purchase some galvanized hinges (so they don’t rust) and a knob. Install them and voila, a door with a little handle!

  30. Kim Meseck
    19 mos, 4 wks ago

    I wish one of the share options for the Oasis Wellness articles was Pinterest! Would really be nice for future reference to be able to easily post articles of interest onto ones boards.

  31. Kim Meseck
    19 mos, 4 wks ago

    And to Camelia’s post, yes I agree with her, it would be nice if a link to the barrel with the door already installed in it, was posted! Why Matthew Weintrub would leave this piece of information out of his article is perplexing!

  32. s seay
    19 mos, 3 wks ago

    coll, thanks. i was told 1c i could do ths n old tires jst by stack’n them up. havn’t tryd yet;

  33. s seay
    19 mos, 3 wks ago

    thx

  34. s seay
    19 mos, 3 wks ago

    sorry, thts COOL, not coll, cc-;

  35. s seay
    19 mos, 3 wks ago

    well i jst took a lrg flower pot & made a hinged door on its side, now jst got 2 get the stuff 2 start fill’n it & wait 2 c wht grows, thnx,,

  36. 19 mos, 3 wks ago

    I was thinking the same thing. Pinterest is such a great site to share items.

  37. Anonymous
    19 mos ago

    Thank you god dea!!

  38. Fran
    19 mos ago

    I was told the tires could leech nasty stuff, not good with root veggies…..better for something you don’t eat, like flowers. Any statistics on what the tires would leech?

  39. Fran
    19 mos ago

    I was told the tires could leech nasty stuff, not good with root veggies…..better for something you don’t eat, like flowers. Any statistics on what the tires would leech? I don’t want nasty stuff in my potatoes…..

  40. Cag3db1rd
    18 mos, 3 wks ago

    technically, no, it won’t work with sweet potatoes. however, you can grow a sweet potato plant in just about anything with around an 18 inch diameter and at least a foot depth. I suggest cutting 55 gallon barrels in half for up to 3 plants per half, but that’s pushing it a bit. Sweet potatoes are related to the morning glory and do not grow the same way that irish potatoes grow.

  41. Jeanene
    18 mos, 3 wks ago

    Share to your page and it will be there for later reference

  42. 18 mos, 3 wks ago

    Hi Matt, I was wondering if you had the instructions on how to build the slat potato farm itself. I know you can use barrels, buckets and drums etc but I think this idea is both attractive and practical.

  43. Anonymous
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    thts because the additives that they use to vulcanize the soft rubber leach out into your soil , poisining your plants. which could be a good thing you didnt get to poison your self.!

  44. Bernard Frederic Bouygues
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    i use to grow potatoes like that 15 years ago on my boat. fantastic way to do it

  45. Robin
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    So, what is the cost involved? I have to buy a barrel of some kind, soil, compost, and the seed potatoes to start with. I like the “dog food bag” option, since I have those very large bags anyway. And I can compost like my Dad did in the 50′s by just digging a hole and throwing in organic waste (things that some might throw away after dinner). But it still seems like there will be a large upfront cost to get this started. Any feedback on that? thx

  46. Heather
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    For sweet potatoes, plant your vine and keep adding dirt basically the same way. It will work. I’ve done it a couple of times, using tires as my planter and stacking them up 3 or 4 high. I had sweet potatoes literally the size of footballs. In inner city St Louis! Sweet potatoes will like sawdust or wood shavings better than dirt.

  47. runjhunkamal
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    First time I’ve seen such a novel way of potato cultivation. This is amazing and a boon to urban household who don’t have much open space for kitchen garden.

    Kindly share more information about cultivation of other vegetables in similar fashion.

    I would like to have more information about container potato cultivation.

  48. 18 mos, 1 wk ago

    I grow my potatoes on the farm with this vertical grow method, but I use old used wire fencing and cattle/hog panels bent into a circle instead of a barrel with lots and lots of straw (no seed heads like hay has, so you won’t sprout hay in your “mulch”) along with our farm’s composted manure. Incredible bounty. All used and recycled material from the farm so zero cost involved.

  49. muhammed
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    hi to you all.. first of all sorry my english is not so , but i want to tell you that i once planted potatos in my garden as a test ( just one seed potato ) in a heavy muddy soil , at the end i harvested only 7 potatos from that one potato head …….thank you to all of you

  50. Lydia
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    I have also used dog food bags as “grow bags” but I haven’t had any luck with potatoes. I turn the cat chow and dog chow bags inside out and fold the top edge inside, then turn it back out to make a cuff so they are perfect white grow bags for free.

  51. Lydia
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    me, too! but it was worth doing with the kids just for the experience. And we got pretty foliage and flowers!

  52. lolita
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    i live in a tropical country..can i plant potato in a barrel then in my garden…i have a green thumb but i guess and afraid i might not be successful..when it comes to potatoes especially during summer.,.

  53. Judy
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    I Love this could you grouw strawberries Like this also? and I did print mine. I just right clicked on mouse went to print and bob’s your uncle lol.

  54. Allix
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    Robin, the start up cost for just about anything is always gonna be higher. However, the barrel/container will last you five or six years, depending on its construction, and you can re-use the soil every year with just a little bit of added compost to replace nutrients lost. You have to decide if the potatoes you want to grow 1) will taste better than store-bought (hint: they will) and 2) if the amount of potatoes you use while they’re in season is more expensive over time than growing them yourself.

  55. Allix
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    Sorry, missed the Reply button. See comment below!

  56. Josh
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    Has anyone tried growing several varieties of potato in a single bucket? This sounds like a great idea, but I would want to grow at least 3 varieties and am very space limited.

  57. Lynne
    18 mos, 1 wk ago

    so complicated. my grandma grew huge amounts of great potatoes in good, old dirt, that she threw the kitchen scraps on.

  58. Holly
    18 mos ago

    What an awesome idea, I have all flower beds outside, am not the vegie gardner my mother was ( unfortunately ) and I have a very bad back, so this would be awesome for someone like me, no bending over and having to shovel them

  59. 18 mos ago

    This is great. I did try the sweet potatoes last year in a large, tall bucket and got only strings… and they were trying to get out the bottom drain holes, as I had them on my patio. I kept adding soil … will try again this year… I would love to have them football size sweet potatoes. Thank you for sharing… both pro and con as I am convinced there must be way. :o )

  60. 17 mos, 3 wks ago

    Hi Matthew,

    Your website does not have much ads. How will you earn from it? There is a company named Roxa Infotek from whom I got my website. Have a look at it and let me know if you want one.

    Regards,
    Ravindra – + 91 98200 63984

  61. Mela
    17 mos, 3 wks ago

    You can share anything on Pinterest by getting the “pin it” button added to your favourites. Find it under the “about” section on Pinterest.

  62. Anonymous
    17 mos, 3 wks ago

    I agree copy and put into word that’s how I do it and it works well

  63. Anonymous
    17 mos ago

    Your English is perfect! Tell me what do you mean by muddy soil . You mean no fertilizers?

  64. Anonymous
    17 mos ago

    Do they sell the barrels with the door that is shown in this advertisement?

  65. 17 mos ago

    this looks easier than growing them in the ground,at least this way I wont be stabbing my spuds with a fork, (lmao,.. thanks for putting this up, take care, Alf…

  66. Anonymous
    17 mos ago

    You need to check the signs of the moon you planted them in. People think there iz nothing to it but there is. If signs are in the heart they have a hole in the middle if signs in the feet will have toes on them. Check the farmers almanac . It could give you Lot of insight.

  67. wysiwyg
    17 mos ago

    I saved the drum from my busted dryer. I wonder if it will work. Going to get the seed potatoes this weekend. Maybe I’ll cut the door with my sawzall :) .

  68. slaromabee
    17 mos ago

    After harvest how should one store a few for next year?

  69. Jen
    16 mos, 3 wks ago

    Couple of comments; 1 be very careful using straw or hay you may introduce unwanted weeds!
    2 don’t keep your potatoes for seed, diseases in potatoes spread that way. Ie potatoe blight. Seed potatoes are cheap start fresh every spring
    3 gardening is fun and a grand experiment try everything anything you want! That’s what makes it fun what’s the worse that can happen?

  70. 16 mos, 3 wks ago

    cold dark dry place spread out I spread lime on them also to help keep them too. Don’t wash them just spread out.

  71. CIL MARTEL
    16 mos, 2 wks ago

    COPY THE LINK IN THE TOP AND PASTE ON A SITE OF YOUR CHOICE

  72. Rottiemom
    16 mos ago

    Potatoes do not grow well in muddy soil that is why they tell you to make sure you put plenty of drainage holes in whatever you choose to use, so you might want to try doing it again with more drainage holes this time

  73. Sarah
    16 mos ago

    Hey Matt,
    This is a really good idea and well explained. I love the barrel with a door idea.
    Thanks for posting this article :-)

  74. Ronn Dunn
    16 mos ago

    Do not let the potatoes touch each other. This will cause them to start rotting. Also, burlap sacks work great. Lotsa holes for air and drainage.

    For sweet potatoes, start them in an old Mason jar and water, toothpicks in the sides to hold it half out of the water. When the vines are 3-4 inches long pull them out of the potatoe and place in water. Allow a week or so for small roots to start then transplant into barrel or ground. Water well in very good drained soil mound dirt up over stem as it grows. Once the plant dies out dig your potatoes.

  75. anonymous
    16 mos ago

    Why don’t you answer the question about “Where can you purchase the barrel shown”???

  76. anonymous
    16 mos ago

    For you who want to know where to get the barrel:
    http://www.amazon.com/Original-Wooden-Potato-Barrel-H60cm/dp/B00C741G8M

    kind of on the spendy side though

  77. Karen
    16 mos ago

    I love the potato barrel in the picture – where did you find it?

  78. gladys
    15 mos, 3 wks ago

    Thought Kyle would like this idea

  79. Stephanie
    15 mos, 3 wks ago

    *For those who wish to print this article* (or any other)

    Click and hold the Ctrl key (lower left corner of keyboard) and press the “a” key to “select all”. You will see the contents of the page become highlighted. Then click and hold Ctrl key again and press the “p” key to “print”. Your printer screen should open and you may then select your print properties as usual. ( Number of Copies, Landscape/Portrait, Normal/Best/Fast Draft, etc.)

    *If you do not wish to print “all” you may use the click and drag method (click mouse and hold while dragging) to highlight only that which you wish to print. Once your printer screen opens you will need to select an option under “page range”. Choose “selected” and only that which you highlighted will print.

  80. 15 mos, 1 wk ago

    Hello there! I just would like to give you a big thumbs up for your
    excellent information you have got here on this post.
    I will be returning to your web site for more soon.

  81. JAytee
    14 mos, 4 wks ago

    So cool ! i want to try this fingerlings & new.

  82. Patty Trent
    14 mos, 2 wks ago

    LOVE THIS IDEA. SO MANY WAYS IT CAN BE USEFUL.

  83. 14 mos, 2 wks ago

    Summer was slow this yearso I used my 2foot long planters for turnip greens, sprinkled seed rather thick,watered & put them on the window sills. Took a couple days longer to sprout, but I’ve been cutting every week. After it warmed up I transferred the planters to a sunny spot out doors. Still getting lots of greens.Also did beet greens!

  84. Anonymous
    14 mos, 1 wk ago

    Agreed! And from my experience with potato Beatles, this method makes it vurtually impossible to get to the plants! I will line up 6 or 7 barrels on the sight that was for taters, and harvest 5 times the amount! Great to share ideas like this, I’ll prepare a listing of things I’ve benefitted from and post it here! Thanks!

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  89. 13 mos, 2 wks ago

    I planted some sweet potatoes last year in a large planted. All I wanted was the vines. I was surprised in the fall when I dumped it out and found the potaotes. I did it again this year only using some fencing, dirt and straw from the barn. The potatoes are growing. Waiting to see how many I get. This is the first garden I have had in about 29 years.

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  94. Anonymous
    10 mos ago

    You may have had (or added as fertilizer) to much nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen makes plants very green but doesn’t help the roots that much. Potatoes are a root crop obviously so they need a very balanced fertilizer making sure they get plenty of phosphorus and potassium. The numbers in the fertilizer 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 for instance represent Nitrogen- Phosphorus- Potassium, in case you didn’t know. They need a slightly acidic soil with a PH in the range of 5.0 – 6.5. And they like a lot of organic matter in the soil. I’m not an expert but I’ve always found potatoes very easy to grow. There are other things to know about them too. I always wait till well after they start blooming and after to check for potatoes. I learned how to grow them from my mother who learned from her parents. Try them again, I bet you get get a better result.

  95. Alicia
    8 mos, 3 wks ago

    I made grow bags using landscape fabric, and I’ve planted Kennebac and Red Pontiac potatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, green onions, bush beans, carrots and peanuts in them! I’ve been doing this for years now and have the same bags. They really last! The only thing is, like anything potted, they do dry out quicker than in the ground, so I have to water daily.

  96. Beth Kish
    5 mos, 3 wks ago

    This is so interesting, something my Dad would have done. Maybe my brother

  97. Anonymous
    5 mos, 2 wks ago

    For those having trouble printing, do the following: right click beside the article (not on a picture) and you get options, including print page, which allows printing the article. Print only the pages you want by previewing article vs comments.

  98. Anonymous
    5 mos, 1 wk ago

    I use tires and keep adding tires and soil, I usually go 10 high

  99. Pamela
    4 mos, 4 wks ago

    I researched that and found out that if you use old tires, those chemicals are long ago leached out and the tires are perfectly safe to garden in.

  100. Anonymous
    4 mos, 3 wks ago
  101. 4 mos, 3 wks ago

    Love this idea, I grew potatoes in my garden last yr they grew ears so I just free them in the garden , but the weeding does get a little to much I like this idea better will be trying it this year thank you

  102. june
    4 mos, 2 wks ago

    Wow dude!

  103. Anonymous
    4 mos, 1 wk ago

    Did u ever find out where to get the one in the pix?

  104. rev. rita
    4 mos, 1 wk ago

    Here’s the link to purchase the potato bin in the picture
    http://bombayoutdoors.com/garden-ideas/potato-barrel/

  105. Anonymous
    4 mos, 1 wk ago

    Where can you get these barrels “

  106. 4 mos, 1 wk ago

    Want to know wher I can get one of these barrels please

  107. 4 mos, 1 wk ago

    Thank You Tony really like your idea on the potatoes . im a very sick man this will help me to have fresh potatoes again

  108. 4 mos, 1 wk ago

    I’m going to try it. Thanks for the tip

  109. judy
    4 mos, 1 wk ago

    that’s wonderful seem so easy

  110. MARIAN
    4 mos ago

    THANKS. I AM 81 AND LOVE THE WAY YOU PLANT. I WILL TRY THE POTOTE’S WHITE AND SWEET. AND ALSO TRY THE GREENS AND OTHER VEG’S WILL PUT THEM ON MY BACK DECK.

  111. 1 mo, 1 wk ago

    Great artical – send more to my email

  112. Robbie
    1 mo ago

    What a great community of gardeners , kind and informative.
    I live in country Australia, it is late winter here and I am starting to organise my potatoes… Thanks for the tips

  113. 20 hrs, 20 mins ago

    I think this is among the most significant info for me. And i am glad reading your article.
    But should remark on few general things, The web site style is perfect,
    the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers

  114. Usha vivek
    13 hrs, 20 mins ago

    Mind blowing..

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