Growing potatoes in small spaces
Of all the food we grow in our backyard homestead, potatoes are by far the easiest and least expensive crop we grow. They provide heaps of delicious food for minimal effort—what could be better than that?
Add to that, homegrown potatoes are absolutely scrumptious! Tender, nutty, and creamy, they’re a far cry from the bland, dry potatoes available at most stores. Plus, they’re fun to grow!
Can you grow potatoes in small spaces?
Most people assume potato-growing requires a huge amount of space, but surprisingly, they’re a fabulous candidate for rooftop or terrace gardening. Before moving to her house, my mom would even grow them on her balcony! All it takes is a sunny spot, a few buckets, a raised bed or planters, and some hearty seed potatoes.
Tips For Growing Potatoes
Plant potatoes between hard freezes and hot temperatures. The exact time depends on your local climate. Most gardeners in the US can expect to plant in March, April, or May and harvest about four months later.
Start with high-quality seed potatoes and compost-rich soil. Whether you’re planning to grow your potatoes in a pot, a raised bed, or in your garden, make sure you’re working with quality soil and potatoes. Look for seed potatoes at your favorite garden center.
Put starter potatoes in a paper bag at room temperature until they sprout. In the gardening world, this is called chitting. You can use any potatoes, but smaller ones are easier.
If using large potatoes, prepare them for planting. Using a sharp, clean knife, cut them into 2 inch pieces with 1-2 eyes per piece. Allow them to sit in a cool area overnight or until the cut areas scab over. This prevents rotting.
Planting Potatoes in a Garden Bed
First, dig a trench that is 6-8 inches deep. Lay your seed potatoes in the trench with the sprouts pointing up, 12-15 inches apart. Top the trench with lots of mulch to keep the beds moist.
Planting Potatoes in a Pot
To grow your own potatoes in a pot, fill a large, deep pot with organic soil. Plant one seed potato 3 inches deep with the sprouts facing up. Top with more soil or mulch and keep evenly moist. Easy as that!
No matter where you plant your potatoes, keep the soil moist. Large, green leaves will emerge from the soil. Earth up the potatoes by topping the leaves with plenty of mulch. We use grass clippings, hay, and leaves. Continue to mound mulch over the leaves and stems as they grow. If the baby potatoes get close to the surface, they’ll develop unappealing green spots.
Around the time the flowers bloom and the leafy greens begin to wilt, they are ready to harvest!
To harvest your potatoes, gently tug the potato greens. You’ll notice potatoes hanging from the roots. Success! The original seed potato can be pulled off and composted. Don’t forget to dig through the soil to find the hidden gems. Kids love to join in and dig in the dirt!
There’s just one thing left to do—enjoy!
Homegrown potatoes are packed with flavor and are best prepared simply. My favorite way to eat them is roasted with rosemary.
Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
2 cups red skin potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. dry rosemary
1⁄2 Tbsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Dice potatoes with the skin on. Place potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with rosemary and salt. Use your hands to toss potatoes to coat all pieces with the oil, salt, and herbs. Bake for 15-25 minutes until potatoes are crisp, browned, and don’t taste waxy.
Have you ever grown potatoes? Do you have tips and tricks you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments!
More tips for growing potatoes in containers: