• http://www.QuestionAndPlanter.com/ Emmon

    Really enjoyed this article Tim — not only what you developed as a gardener, but the way you explained and “boiled” the information down to four steps!

  • b27

    in container gardening, do the plants suffer from lack of connection to the earth’s ions, the energy, the field?  I wonder if this plays a part in how some succeed and some do not.  However, then there are greenhouses, and homes, that use gutters…and stuff produces well.  OF course, perhaps have not been tested with a refractometer or analyzed for quality.  Anyone know?  I suspect grounding to the earth with a copper wire always works.  The energy may well affect many processes in producing health giving foods stuffs??  Anyone care to comment with experience?

    • R U Mishra

       This seems very intuitive idea. But this requires further studies.In my opinion the containers once placed on ground are connected to the earth.

    • KingSky


  • http://www.facebook.com/EllyKrullMiller Elly Krull Miller

    we have lots of mineral lick tubs from the cattle and this would be a perfect use for them, thank you for the idea

  • Jandl28pdnj

    in what season do you start? I am in NJ.

  • Bruceanddarlene

    We have been doing something very similar in Alaska, old tires work great, we just add one as they start growing, black keeps the heat in, our growing season is limited…Darlene

  • Mary

    I’ve heard that you shouldn’t use the same potato soil each year.  Is this true and do you know the reasoning why?  I’ve been wanting to try this, thanks for the instructions!

    • Kristy Lautner

      You need to rotate crops every three years for potatoes, the reason being is being a root vegetable they take the nutrients from the soil and can leave behind disease, So you are correct you don’t use the same soil for potatoes every year unless you modify it with more nutrients (mulch) and a lot of it!

  • R U Mishra

    I was possessed with the idea of growing potatoes in containers this year to offset the increasing cost of potatoes in open retail market.Hence I was looking for confirmatory articles.Your’s is the first article I am reading now.This is very informative and encouraging.Thanks.

  • Felicity

    Although it’s certainly possible to grow potatoes in a barrel or other similar container, you will not get anywhere near 100 pounds from one barrel.

    If you have the space for it, grow potatoes in the ground. Fork it over to loosen it up, hoe trenches about 6 inches deep, place chitted seed potatoes 18″ apart (you can use supermarket potatoes, but they may be diseased, which can significantly reduce yield). If planting “earlies”, put them 12″ apart. Then cover with a couple inches of soil. As the foliage emerges, “earth up” the stems to keep them covered. Keep them watered if the weather is dry. After they have flowered, they can be dug up and stored.

    We plant a row 4′ wide by 15′ long, and this yields enough potatoes from harvest in August/September until March or so (for two people). (They would last longer if we had a root cellar.) The variety we grow is “Cara”, disease-resistant and very good to store. Don’t plant potatoes in the same place two years in a row (and don’t re-use soil if growing in a container) because diseases stay in the soil for several years (this is why crops should be rotated). And don’t use tires because they can release toxins into the soil which end up in your food.

  • Al

    I know it’s not an *eco*-solution, but even better is growing them in old car tyres. The rubber makes for an excellent greenhouse.

    Fill a tire with earth and plant the seed potatoes, wait till the plants are large enough and place a second tire on top, fill this also with earth but leave the plant lookign out the top… add a 3rd tire, a 4th tire… and even a 5th.

    A lot less space and way more potatoes.

  • Al

    I know it’s not an *eco*-solution, but even better is growing them in old car tyres. The rubber makes for an excellent greenhouse.

    Fill a tire with earth and plant the seed potatoes, wait till the plants are large enough and place a second tire on top, fill this also with earth but leave the plant lookign out the top… add a 3rd tire, a 4th tire… and even a 5th.

    A lot less space and way more potatoes.

  • TommyTCG

    Well, if its to ward-off starvation, then the potato is OK.

    If you listen to the corrupt* dieticians, then eating any veg is fine.
    *The self-appointed Dietetic Assn. org. is totally corrupted, being funded by food producers, by manufacturers of foodstuffs, of confectionaries, of beverages, by fast food companies, by a giant biotech co. and indirectly by big pharma! Their function is to help their benefectors prosper, their interest is NOT your health.

    If you read the science, you dont eat any poataoes.

    Potatoes are high in the solanine glyco-alkaloid,  and that CAUSES arthritis, (being part of the deadly-nightshade family, the atropa belladonna). The fact that the docs. dont rcognise this, (no money in it), does not invalidate the science. US Agric. Dept. Study 1974.

    Potatoes are high in phloridzin, unless rolling-boiled for more than 5 minutes.  This allergen inflames the brains pituatary gland,  degraded parts of which join up with other degraded parts from other inflamed parts, (hypothalamus and pancreas),  to form the base of the cancer nucleus. This nucleus is eesential to start and fuel ALL malignancies. Clartk HR PhD ND 2007. Dr Clark’s works since 1995 are based on over half a million repeatable, so scientifically valid bio-resonance tests. The fact that the docs.  dont recognise the works of Dr Clark, does not invalidate the science.

    Poatoes are high in carbs that fatten and raise heart-disease causing tri-g;ycerides.

    • tiffster


    • State_Insurance_North_Carolina

      Tommy. I believe that this data is in error.

      Without doing a lot of research I was able to find this information on the net

      1. Belarus is the most potato loving country with about 181 kg consumed per capita. And yet, most of their cancers seem to be caused by the effects of chernobyl.

      If as you say, potatoes increase the incident of cancer, then Belarus should show high rates of cancer before the nuclear accident as well. I cannot find the data to support this

  • Tarski

    I have found that covering potatoes with straw give me very bitter potatoes. He should have planted only 4 or 5 in the barrel. Not 8.
    Water potatoes well or tubers grow together. I plant potatoes in rows. Rows 4 ft apart and pile dirt as high as I can. I leave them in the ground over winter. Top row with straw and cover with cheap tarp. In the spring they are better than the ones stored in cellar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.schiefer.9 Jeff Schiefer

    Tried this this summer and tonight finally dumped the barrel. Only had about 2-3 lbs. of potatoes. Not sure what the problem was. Planted Red Pontiac seed potatoes, not from a grocery store. Plants were very bushy and healthy for half the summer, then got pretty thin. All the potatoes we got were way down in the barrel, did not grow all along the plant to the top.

    • Joshua Naterman

      I haven’t tried this myself yet, but I saw a lady on Youtube dump out a 4 foot tall garbage can that was full of potatoes from bottom to top. She drilled holes in the garbage can every few inches, on both sides, from bottom to top. This apparently lets the soil breathe much better, and leads to much better potato production. Again, I don’t know for sure that this works, but her trash can’s heavy crop says it does.

      • ChefPattyO

        this is exactly what I did this year and my plants are growing out of control!! I am adding soil every few days!I used a 20 gallon trash can from Walmart (around 9 bucks!)drilled holes everywhere and my potatoes love it! I water everyday and fertilize every 2 weeks.I hope I get the potatoes the plants are representing!!! I used soil,hummus and manure combination and a fish based fertilizer!

        • Butch Talbott

          How is it working?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.williams.77715 Jim Williams

    Decided to go all out and try potatoes in barrels this year. In late February I planted a different variety in each of five half wooden barrels and two more varieties, one in each of two full barrels. In June we harvested the half barrels after the greenery died back. Lots and lots of potatoes, up to 20+ pounds in each half barrel. Since the plants in the full barrels continued to grow longer as we added soil we didn’t harvest these until the greenery died off in July. Got a handful of potatoes from the top foot. Nothing in the middle, and a number of empty skins in the bottom. Intuitively you’d expect this since watering would continue to feed the potatoes on top, eventually rotting those at the bottom. Yet many web sites advocate growing potatoes in half AND full barrels. What should I have done differently in the full barrels?

  • Rodney Frame

    This was a great article, I really like how densely you can plant potatoes. I have seen similar potato box designs in a lot of places and many of them seem to be pretty successful without very much input. One of the cheapest and easiest methods I have seen involves just growing potatoes in a large bag http://www.plantdex.com/index.php/plant-pulp-monthly/280-grow-potatoes-the-easy-way-in-a-bag

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.byrne.144 Tim Byrne

    Looks like I need to try the Yellow Finn, Indian Pit, Red Pontiac, or the fingerling seed potatoes to try in 2013

  • Lisa Hayes

    I have actually grown potatoes in a container with nothing but layers of news paper. just keep the paper lightly moist and you will have plenty of tators.

  • Danielle

    When/where in the process would you plant the beans? I have some seeds for pole beans, as long as I provide poles would that work? Looking forward to trying this!

  • Ron Smith

    and the reason you can grow them in terrible soil like newspaper is because they are very low nitrogen requirement crop – however – you should know they benefit greatly from potassium so if you want a better crop ensure your soil is of good quality and add fertilizer high in the third number. For example, a 20-10-5 fertilizer contains 20% nitrogen, 10% phosphate, and 5% potash!

  • Owen

    I’d like to see one proven instance of anyone getting 100 pounds of potatoes per barrel using this method. I just harvested my fingerlings, grown precisely according to the instructions here and in what I consider to be perfect growing conditions, and I got 3 pounds 14 ounces of very nice potatoes. Nothing close to 100 pounds, if you do the math. I wish people would stop making this grandiose claim.

  • Gail Bremner

    I have tried this method 2 years now and gotten nothing but maybe 2 meals out of both barrels combined. This year I purchased the special potatoes mentioned in the blog and it didn’t make any difference – if anything, we got a few less than last year. Can you help me?

  • Feed My Planet

    Can’t wait to give this method a try! We have limited space to grow on our odd shaped lot and have been looking at incorporating a balcony garden, vertical garden, and hanging garden to maximize our harvest

  • rtj1211

    Having worked in experimental science research, I”ve seen these sorts of claims of breakthroughs. Usually there is then a period where some can reproduce it and some can’t, which leads to name-calling, frustration and a realisation that actually people don’t yet know what the critical success factors are.

    Usually, a few of those who failed to begin with start doing rigorous research to understand the process and sooner or later, the technique is understood and almost everyone can get it to work.

    The variables I reckon are;
    1. What strain you use.
    2. How quickly you add the next layer of soil.
    3. What soil/compost/mulch/additives you add and when.
    4. How often and how much you water.
    5. How often, how much and what you feed with.
    6. How long you bulk up for.
    7. What temperature you are growing in.
    8. What the ultimate height of your ‘tower’ is.
    9. How many tuber seeds you use for a given size of tower.

    Issues to consider are the oxygenation at lower levels the higher the tower gets; how well the soil drains/retains water; whether compaction at lower levels inhibits tuber growth; whether bags are good for growing potatoes if the summer is hot etc etc.

    I had a go with first and second earlies this year and got the same yields as you get growing in the ground. Some tubers did form higher up, but it wasn’t enough to make it worth using it as a sole production method.

    I suspect that a few research associations/research councils need to invest in some rigorous research, primarily identifying varieties which do work for this technology.

  • Helen

    Thank you so much for the great ideas :Y

  • Marion

    I’m thinking of using an old composter container that has a pull up door in the front that normally would be used to rake out the compost as it rots down…I think that leaving the lid off completely so I can add soill from the top and water the same way…whaddaya think?
    It has vents on the sides so I think drainage would be no problem. It is about three feet square and about four feet high

    • ChefPattyO

      this is my first year and I used a 20 gallon trash can,drilled holes all over up and down and on the bottom for drainage,used good soil,hummus and manure combination,and fertilize with a fish based fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.My potatoes are growing crazy! About 2-4 inches every few days! I continue to cover them with soil and water everyday to keep them moist.I cant wait to dump my barrel and see what is inside.I am hoping by the great growth rate it will mean great success! Good Luck!! (oh and by the way I never cover the barrel,they need the sunlight!)

  • Josephine Cunningham

    I highlight what I need printed, press print then choose print selection

  • Karen Riha

    can I use osmocote potting soil with smart-release fertilizer to grow my potato plants in a barrel?

  • sully

    Did this a few years ago in a tomato cage. Covered the vines with grass clippings. Don’t compact the covering and it works great.

  • alwaysquestion

    are these potatoes nutritious?

  • alwaysquestion

    anyone know?

  • Tracey D

    Would this work for sweet potatoes aswell?