Growing Potatoes in Containers Garbage Can Harvest

Let me start by saying that it is things like this that really make me hate gardening sometimes. I had big hopes for growing potatoes in containers this year, I went out and purchased a huge bag of peat moss to grow them in since I knew they like a bit of acidity and a nice, loose medium to grow in, I made sure they had enough sun, water, nutrients, etc and in the end, I pretty much got nothing.

That being said, I will try again next year, and can add one more item to the list of what not to do in the future. I just found this particularly frustrating, I think it’s the same as the rare times I buy a lottery ticket, then get disappointed when I don’t win, because I am already spending the money in my head. It’s just that this time the money was potatoes and the spending was all of the delicious ways I could prepare them.

Enough whining from me for now, let’s look at the harvest!

I harvested the container on August 19 in my usual fashion; I just dumped the container out onto a tarp and sifted through with my hands to find all of the potatoes. This time I wish I had worn gloves though, as the seed potatoes were a disgusting mass of watery mush and even though it was contained inside the skin, that skin broke open easily and got all over my hands. That always seems to happen and it always grosses me out, one year I will remember gloves.

Growing Potatoes in Containers Ready for Harvest

This is what the plants looked like before I dumped out the soil.

There wasn’t really much to find, and every potato that I did find was actually in the Mel’s Mix (from the Square Foot Gardening Method) at the bottom of the barrel, not a single potato, not even one of the tiny ones was found in the peat moss. I found this odd, since I had read in numerous places that peat is great for growing potatoes in. From my barrel which had 8 or so plants in it, I got 23 potatoes, 9 medium-large ones, and 14 small-tiny ones.

Growing Potatoes in Containters Garbage Can Harvest

Here’s what I got, not much more than either of the bags.

What seemed to happen with it, and I should have taken a picture of it, was that once it was wet, the peat just clumped together, not unlike it does when you’re taking it out of one of those bricks you can buy it in. I think that growing in some peat moss would work great, as long as you have something else added to it as to not to let the clumps form. Whether that is potting mix, compost, vermiculite, sand, straw, or whatever you decide, it needs something else in there with it. It should work better, but I think I might just mix up some Mel’s Mix for it next year instead.

On the plus side, I did finally get some Gladiolas to bloom, we’ve tried growing them before and they never worked, then no one dug up the corms and we lost them to winter kill. Since my Instagram widget isn’t working at the moment (between writing this and editing it, the widget was updated and fixed) I’ll post the picture here as a positive way to end the post. It’s moments where I can share pictures like that with you all that makes me love gardening and the work I put into it… That and the amazingly good food that comes from it.

That colour is not what I expected from the corms I bought on eBay, but I sure do love it!

That colour is not what I expected from the corms I bought on eBay, but I sure do love it!

6 thoughts on “Growing Potatoes in Containers Garbage Can Harvest

  1. Hans @ Qberry Farm

    From my experience of 70 years and helping harvest in Northern Maine, the best growing medium for potatoes is sand.
    One of the best harvests I have experienced was in Maine where the harvester driver was told to try this field where the sandy soil had dried out early and all the tops had died back naturally. When the potatoes came up on the sorting table they were unexpectedly numerous and all of ideal size.
    Too much organic matter in the soil can harbor organisms that cause scabs on the skin.
    The commercial potato farmers run a plow on each side of the row to keep potatoes from protruding from the ground and turning green. This is what you want to replicate. Sand will not clump and it can be pushed aside by the growing potatoes.
    My system uses a 16 inch high ring which is left over when I make planters out of the top and bottom of a 55 gallon barrel. I plant the potatoes in a sandy area and put the ring around it. when the tops reach the height of the ring then I add sandy soil from outside the ring and if possible come back and fill the ring to the top later. When the tops die back all I have to do is lift off the ring and spread the dirt out and pick up the potatoes.

    1. Conrad Post author

      Thanks for the comment Hans, I hadn’t thought of using sand in the barrel and the bags to grow better potatoes. I think it might be a little expensive (unless I can find a good supply) to do it all, or mostly sand, but after what you’ve said, I think that I will at very least add some to the Mel’s Mix that I’m already planning to use next year. With sand in it along with the compost, peat and vermiculite, I don’t think there’s a chance it will clump up.

      You have me looking forward to next year already my friend!

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