Introduction of Growing Potatoes in Containers:
The following information guides about Growing Potatoes in Containers, Indoors, or Backyards.
Potato is an annual plant that belongs to the nightshade family. It is grown for their starchy tubers. Tubers a thick underground part of a stem or rhizome. This root vegetable is native to the Peruvian-Bolivian Andes and it is the main food crop grown all over the world. Potatoes are generally consumed as a cooked vegetables and potato flour is also used in many cuisines. The potatoes are highly digestible and are a rich source of vitamin C, protein, thiamin, and niacin.
Plants of potatoes are herbaceous perennials, and these grow up to 24-26 inches high, the size of the plant depends on the variety of potatoes grown. And the leaves of plants will die after flowering and produces berry-like with along with the tubers. The flowers of the plant will be in white, pink, red, blue, or purple colors with yellow stamens. The potato plants with white flowers, bear tuber with white skins. And other potato varieties with other colors produce tubers with pinkish skins. After bolting, the potato plants produce berry-sized fruits these fruits produce seeds. Except for the tuber remaining parts of the plants contain alkaline solanine which is toxic and not good for consumption. Potatoes are propagated from both the seeds and tubers.
Varieties of Potatoes:
There are many varieties of potatoes that can be grown in containers, below are some listed varieties. Potatoes are classified into different varieties based on their structure and their behavior while cooking. Russets: These potatoes have rough brown skin with white flesh. The skin of these potatoes turns crisp when cooked. White potatoes are thin with light-colored skin. Waxy potatoes, these potatoes are fine-grained with thin flesh. Colorful potatoes, these potatoes are in red/pink/purple/ blue colors and easily grown in containers. Fingerling potatoes, these potatoes are long with thin tender flesh. And the last one is baby potatoes; these potatoes are harvested before it completes its growth. The shelf life of baby potatoes is less compared to mature potatoes.
The ideal time for planting all the varieties of potatoes should be done in the month of March or April. Potatoes are categorized based on seasons, they are early season potatoes, Mid-season potatoes, and late-season potatoes. Early season potatoes are planted in March and Mid-season potatoes should be planted first of July, and the late-season potatoes should be planted at the end of September till the end of December.
Early Season Potatoes:
Early season potatoes are planted in the month of March, maturity period will from 75 to 90 days. Early season potatoes reach maturity within 75 to 90 days.
- Irish cobbler is an early season potato, has an irregular shape variety with light brown color.
- Norland is an early-season potato and is red-skinned potato. This is a disease-resistant variety.
- Yukon Gold is the most popular early-season potato variety, these potatoes have yellow-colored tender flesh with a buttery flavor and texture. These potatoes are large and evenly shaped are the best choice in early season varieties.
Mid-Season Potatoes maturing period is 95 to 100 days. The Russet Burbank is a midseason potato with a harvesting period of 95 days.
Some Mid-season potato varieties are:
- French Fingerling.
- Gold Rush.
- Ida Rose.
- Kerrs Pink (which is an heirloom).
- Purple Viking.
- Red Pontiac.
- Red Sangre.
- Rose Finn Apple.
- Yukon Gem.
Late Season Potatoes:
Potatoes planted from late summer till autumn, Maturing period is 120-135 days.
- Katahdin is late season potatoes, with a light brown-skinned spud, these late-season potatoes are disease resistant.
- All Blue.
- Bintje (an heirloom).
- Canela Russet.
- Fingerling Salad.
- German Butterball.
- King Harry (an heirloom).
- Purple Peruvian.
- Russet Norkotahis an heirloom variety.
- Green Mountain is another heirloom variety, that has a great flavor. It has an indistinct shape.
Steps for Growing Potatoes in Containers:
- Potato is a staple and main food crop that grows around the year, in the right conditions. Growing potatoes in containers reduce the risk of pest infestation and diseases. Potatoes can be propagated from both seeds and tubers. Growing potatoes from seed could be the best option, and it also saves time. They just need well-drained, fertile soil and fertilizers. And they also need a good amount of sunlight and water, which will make your crop grow faster.
- How to buy seeds for Growing Potatoes in Containers: Potatoes used for planting are called seed potatoes also called tubers. These are different from the potatoes we get from grocery stores. Seeds potatoes are only used for planting and are not edible. Grocery potatoes with shoots can be used for planting, but they don’t produce good crops. Grocery potatoes are treated with some chemicals to control the shoots. Seed potatoes are available in all the nurseries and garden centers. Buy them 3 to 4 weeks before planting, so that it can get enough time to produce shoots.
- The sprouts are the tiny greenish or white root structures growing from the potatoes. For making potatoes to sprout, store them in an open container, in a dark and cool place. Kitchen cupboards could be the best place. Check them regularly, and don’t move the seed potato. The optimum temperature for a seed potato to sprout should be around 10°C.
- Once the potatoes are ready with the sprouts of size 0.64 to 2 cm, trim all the sprouts leaving 3 to 4 larger ones. The more sprouts, the more potatoes you can grow from one seed potato. Use a sharp knife to remove the remaining sprouts.
- Containers for Growing Potatoes in Containers: Potato is a root vegetable that requires more space to grow and develop tubers. The size of the container should give enough space to grow. If you choose a small container, potatoes will not grow properly. The ideal size of the container for growing potatoes in the container should be 16 inches in depth and 16 widths for planting one seed potato. For planting more than one seed potato, use big containers. For planting 2 to 3 seed potatoes, the container should hold 10 gallons of potting soil. Container made of clay, terracotta, plastic, metal, ceramic is suitable for growing potatoes, you can also grow bags or recycled containers like water tins, paint barrels, etc.
- The plastic container is best for growing potatoes, choose a black plastic container that is available in nurseries or garden centers. These containers can hold moisture for a long time. Go for the movable containers, so that you can move them around as the growing requirements. If you are living in a warm and hot region, don’t buy a dark-colored container. Dark or black containers will absorb more heat and will make the potting soil dry quickly.
- Before filling the containers with potting soil, wash them with warm and antiseptic soap. This helps to kill the fungus and bacteria’s that reside in the containers.
- Now lay a fine mesh or fiberglass or gravel at bottom of the container covering the draining holes. This process will slow down the draining process and helps the tubers to absorb the nutrients in the soil. And also avoid dripping of soil and water clogging.
- Now place a saucer filled with pebbles till ¼ inch covering the bottom of the saucer completely. And place the container on the pebbles in the center of the saucer. The pebbles between the saucer and container will help the water to drain properly.
Soil for Growing Potatoes in Containers:
Potatoes thrive in all types of soils except alkaline soil. Loose-natured soil helps the enlargement of the tuber with less stress. Loamy and sandy, well-drained soils rich in organic matter are highly preferred. The standard commercial potting mix works well for growing potatoes in a container or can create your own potting soil.
Home-made potting soil for growing potatoes in containers: Mix all the ingredients in equal proportions 1/3 compost: 1/3 perlite or vermiculite: 1/3 peat moss or coco coir. All these ingredients are available in nursery centers.
The ideal time for Growing Potatoes in Containers:
- Planting time depends on the variety of potatoes you choose. Depending on the planting schedule, select the potatoes variety.
- Early season potatoes planting time: these potatoes planting seasons start from March or April. The harvesting period of early-season potatoes is about 75-90 days to mature for harvest. Don’t plant these potatoes too early, there is a chance of frost damage.
- Mid-season potatoes planting time: These potatoes’ planting time starts from May to July. The Harvesting period of Mid-season potatoes is about 85-110 days. Mid-season potatoes are the best variety to grow in warm regions.
- Late Season Potatoes Planting time: late-season potatoes start from July to August. The harvesting period of late-season potatoes is about 120-135 days. These potatoes are temperature resistant, these potatoes can resist freezing temperatures.
Planting procedure for Growing Potatoes in Containers:
- Fill the containers with potting soil, leaving 1 to 2 inches of space from the rim of the container and the surface of the potting soil. Pat down the soil lightly with your fingers, make sure that the soil is firmly packed. If the soil is not packed tightly, there is a chance of potatoes sinking into the bottom of the container.
- After filling the container with the potting soil, side dresses the surface of the potting with granular organic fertilizer. You can use all-purpose organic vegetable fertilizers this works better and provides necessary nutrients to fasten the growth of the potatoes.
- Now dig a hole at the center of the container and place your seed potatoes into the potting mix facing sprouts upwards. If planting more than one seed potato, each tuber should be placed 5 to 6 inches apart. Press the potatoes slightly into potting soil and cover with a thin layer of potting soil.
- Water the seed potatoes using a watering can or hose very slowly. Wet the soil uniformly, water them seeds till it flows out from the draining holes.
- Keep moist but not soggy and wait till the true leaves appear.
- When the plants grow up to 7 to 8 inches, add some more potting soil around the stems without touching the leaves, leaving an inch of the distance left to reach the lower leaves. Mound the potting soil around the stems this process is called hilling the plant. Do the same process every two-three weeks. You can use well-rotted manure or compost instead of the potting mix for hilling, this process supplies the nutrient to the plants constantly. And it also prevents tuber from getting exposed to the sun, when get exposed to light and sun their taste turns bitter and hard.
- As the plants grow, it looks like other plants. Potato plants produce flowers and fruits like berries. And the plant dies off when it completes its lifecycle. It indicates that the potatoes are ready for harvesting.
Water for Growing Potatoes in Containers:
- A potato plant needs 1 to 2 inches of water per week, maintains a constant watering schedule. A young plant should be watered deeply once in five days. And the watering frequency should be increased when the tuber form. Water the plant every two days during the growing period. Tuber formation is indicated by the blooming of the plants, the plant produces flowers when it starts forming tubers.
- The constant watering schedule keeps the soil temperature under control, which fastens the growth of the plant. Stops watering the plant when its leaves turn to yellow color and start to die and wilt.
- And don’t do overhead watering, it can harm the young plants. Overhead watering provides more water on top of the plants and very little to their roots. Wet foliage in potato plants will develop fungal diseases and weakens the stems of the plants.
- Don’t over-water the plants, overwatering can cause irregular tubers. And causes root rot and increases the chance of diseases.
- Potato plants drought-resistant for up to 1 to 2 weeks. Underwatering can cause irregular tuber formation. Poor watering schedules result in stressed plants which decreases the disease resistance power in plants.
Sunlight for Growing Potatoes in Containers:
- The potato plants need a maximum of 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Place your container in a location where it can receive direct sunlight.
- And potatoes plants cannot tolerate a temperature of more than 27 °C. During the high temperature move the container to a shaded location.
- Make sure that your plant is getting ample sunlight, too much sun can turn sprouts yellow and damage them.
Location for Growing Potatoes in Containers:
- Potato plants need a good amount of air, light, and water. So choose a location where it receives a good amount of light and air with water resources nearby.
- Balconies, backyards, terrace garden, and front yards and the best location for placing the potato container.
Fertilizers for Growing Potatoes in Containers:
- Potatoes need constant feed for the healthy growth of the tuber. Use only natural fertilizer like well-rooted manure or compost to feed the plant.
- You can also use organic liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion or seaweed to feed the plants once a month.
- Use the fertilizer rich in potassium and don’t use the fertilizer nitrogen-rich fertilizer as they increase the foliage growth instead of the tubers.
Pests and Diseases in Growing Potatoes in Containers
Read this: GROWING MUSHROOMS IN CONTAINERS.
- Common pests that affect the potato plants are beetles, aphids, flea beetles, and spider mites. To get rid of these pests use some organic pesticides. And choose the seed variety that is pest resistant.
- The major disease that affects potato plants is rotting, to avoid this use good quality potting soil and foliage wetting. Go for disease-resistant potato seeds.
Harvesting Methods for Growing Potatoes in Containers:
- Harvest the potatoes when the leaves turn yellow and the plant wilts and die. Don’t harvest potatoes before the blooms appear.
- Don’t wait till the plants dry out completely. Harvest them as soon as you see yellow leaves wilting.
- Just dig out the soil completely and pick the potatoes.
- Potatoes are not stored in the refrigerator. They stay fresh in the cool and dry open place. Potatoes stay fresh and tasty for more than 10 days.
In case if you are interested in this: How To Grow Organic Lettuce.
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