The easiest way to grow potatoes

I grow potatoes every year and have honestly never started them this early before! However, I have a bag of potatoes that have sprouted so severely that I decided they are just asking to be planted. So, I'm planting them now...even though it's only April. 

how to grow potatoes

I'm also planting these potatoes in feed bags because that is the easiest way to plant potatoes that I have ever tried! I love this method for several reasons mostly because I don't have to dig to harvest the potatoes. Also, there's practically no weeding. Plus:

You can plant potatoes anywhere!

That's right! When you're using bags to plant potatoes you can put the bags on your porch, patio, next to the garage or anywhere else even if you don't have a garden space. 

Plus its another way to reuse all those feed bags I have accumulated. You can buy reusable grow bags if you don't already have bags you can use. Or ask a friend with livestock to save you a few bags...we go through a ton! However, I have never planted grocery store potatoes before so this project may require just a bit of luck...

First of all I should mention that I store my potatoes in an old fashioned Potato and Onion bin. If you don't have one of these you need to read here why I love mine and why you need one! 

Yes, the potatoes did sprout and the onions sometimes do too but nothing ever rots in that thing! This is one of those old fashioned items that I just don't understand why people quit using.

Growing potatoes the easy way


Back to the potatoes...I apparently had ignored them for so long that some of the sprouts were over a foot long! I actually had to cut the mesh bag to get them out without breaking the sprouts off. 

Preparing potatoes for planting


After I got the potatoes out of the bag I cut them into chunks and let them dry out for about 3 days. Cut so that there is 1 eye or sprout on each chunk of potato. This way you'll get more plants from that each potato. The pieces should be about 2" square. 

Pieces of potato with sprouts cut for planting.

If you have a potato with lots of eyes and the pieces would be too small to cut them all separate, it's ok to occasionally leave 2 on a chunk...especially if one of them is a tiny little thing. Try to give each big sprout it's own potato chunk if possible. 

Spread them out on a hard surface away from direct light to dry. I put them on a baking sheet in my laundry room where it's slightly cooler than room temp. Letting them sit out allows the surface to dry out so the potatoes won't rot when you plant them. The cut areas will dry out and darken when they're ready.

How to plant potatoes in bags


I grabbed some empty feed bags and after cutting a few holes in the bottoms of each bag for drainage, I filled them with about 6" of soil and compost mix and put them in a full sun area of the garden. I placed a few potatoes sprout side up in each bag. 

Normally I put another 2" of soil and compost mixture on top of them, but some of these sprouts were so long they needed a bit more than that!

Potato sprouts on soil in grow bag

Roll the bag down so it's only a few inches taller then the dirt and then water them. You want the the soil moist but not wet. As the potato plants grow you'll want to add a few more inches of dirt every few weeks unrolling the bag a little more each time. 

This mimics the traditional hill method of potato growing. Keep going till the bag is almost full, adding more compost as the plants grow and unrolling the bag each time.

When the leaves start to die off you're about ready to harvest. Stop watering and wait about 2 weeks for the leaves to dry out completely. At this point I usually cut a long slit in the bottom of each bag to let moisture out in case it rains. 

How to plant potatoes

To harvest potatoes simply tip the bag over and split it open with a knife. You'll have to root around in the dirt a little to get all the potatoes, but it's much easier than digging them out of the ground with a shovel!

The first year I did this I was surprised to find a lot of worms in the bag and the soil was super dark. Apparently a few made it into the bag when I added the soil and they were just having a good old time reproducing and making worm poop soil! 

Oh, and if you have  chickens, they love helping when you harvest potatoes...so many worms!

I have read that you shouldn't plant grocery store potatoes as there is a risk of introducing diseases to your garden. That's just another reason why I like this method as it keeps the plants contained and not in contact with the rest of the garden. 

I never have grown grocery store potatoes before though...so, wish me luck? 

2020 update: I have used this method every year for the last few years and have used grocery store potatoes each year. My mom is notorious for letting her potatoes sprout so I have plenty every year! lol 

I've not had any problems and have not seen any differences from the bags planted with grocery store potatoes and seed potatoes from the garden center. Work with what you have!

Related reading: Want more information on gardening? Check out this collection of articles on organic gardening.

~L

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17 comments:

  1. Great post packed with interesting information.

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  2. Looks like a great new way, last year we had voles in our garden and they ate the roots off our potatoes and strawberries, hopefully this might detract from that!

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    1. Good idea! I doubt the voles would be able to get through the bags. Let me know if it helps!

      Lisa

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  3. I have planted store bought spuds over the years and got great results and no disease. Have a bunch from last year that look like your image so will be planting them soon. Just wondering what feed bags are.

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    1. Good to know....so hopefully mine will grow well too! Feed bags are the empty sacks chicken feed comes in. Or horse grains, goat feed, rabbit feed etc. They're usually a woven plastic and pretty sturdy, though I've seen people use heavy duty garbage bags instead. You just need to plant a few more potato pieces inn each one since they're so much bigger!

      Lisa

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  4. This is great tips. Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party.

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  5. Any ideas on where to get empty feed bags? We don't have any livestock here that we feed, other than ourselves and our 8 lb Pomeranian. I have planted sprouted grocery store potatoes in a large cheap styrofoam cooler in the past with very good (delicious potatoes) results, but I think the feed sack idea would work better.

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    1. I have read that you can use those black contractor garbage bags. You could probably post on somewhere like craigslist or freecycle and I'm sure people would love to get rid of them. I know I can never find enough uses for all the bags I get! Good luck!

      Lisa

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  6. I have read the same thing on 5 blogs but every one has left out approx. How Minh potatoes can be placed in each bag. Can you please provide us with a rough guess? I wouldn't worry about the store bought potatoes but I would worry about the bacteria that can, will, and does grow from storing potatoes and onions to close to each other. I can't remember the scientific name but you can google it. I always wondered why my potatoes would turn green after I bought them. I never imagined it was actually from having the onions to close. Good luck!

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    1. I put 3 sections of potato in each bag. 3 seems to be a good number for me. More then that and they get overcrowded and the potatoes are smaller at harvest time. Hope that helps!

      Lisa

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  7. Good luck Lisa... I hope you get heaps of potatoes.
    Thank you for sharing at Create, Bake, Grow and Gather this week.

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  8. Oh, wow! I've never grown potatoes like this, but would like to give it a try! It seems like it would be much easier at harvest time. Thanks for sharing your post at Tuesdays with a Twist! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

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  9. Christina CaswellApril 8, 2019 at 9:22 PM

    Thank you so much for your help.I'm a newbie. I started my potatoes in my windowsills March 17th, and with the "Luck of the Irish" the slips are popping up everywhere! I thought i had it all planned out but it's been a "iffy" spring here in Buffalo, New York way too early to put outside. I planned on using a large plastic tote with holes. Now, im intrigued about the "feed bags" I'm a city slicker and have saved large dog food bags to use when i prune my rose bushes (don't have to worry about thorns poking through bag) would dog food bags work? What about burlap bags? I use them to wrap my perrenials over the winter.Such a great informtive blog thank you so much!

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    1. Yes, dog food bags work as well! Burlap bags allow the dirt to dry out too much in my experience, so you'll probably have to water them more often. Sounds like you're off to a great start! Good luck!

      Lisa

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  10. What is the best way to store them since our basement is chilly but not cold.

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    1. Many people store potatoes in the basement in newspaper. Simply layer the paper and space the potatoes out so that they are not touching. Alternate layers of newspaper and more potatoes. They should keep for 2-3 months.

      Lisa

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