But first, carefully consider the best planting methods for you and your property. Besides growing potatoes in the ground, there are many other ways to cultivate them.

Grow Barrels And DIY Potato Pots

special potato growing container

potato growing container

IBC Totes

Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), totes, and tanks are used for storing and transporting large quantities of a product such as liquids, granular substances, or solvents. The capacity of an IBC tank ranges from 180 to 550 gallons depending on its type. The most popular size is the 275 gallon tote. Types of IBCs include plastic totes, stainless steel tanks, and carbon steel tanks. These industrial containers are also stackable.

Used containers can sometimes be found on farms where they're frequently discarded. New and used tanks are also available online.

IBC containers

IBC containers in a garden

IBC containers used as planters

container grown potato

sweet potatoes in a container

Old Tires

hat question is the crux of the problem. Both sides aren’t arguing whether it’s tasteful to use old tires as garden planters, but whether they’re leaching out harmful chemicals into the soil and, therefore, your food. It all comes down to a simple question: Are tires toxic? The short answer is that yes, they are. Tires contain a host of chemicals and metals that should not be in the human body. And they do gradually erode and break down, leaching those chemicals into the environment. It’s because of these pollution concerns that it’s so hard to dispose of old tires legally. But that leads directly to the other side of the argument: since it’s so hard to dispose of old tires legally, the things are building up and causing a real waste problem. You would think that any opportunity to put the old things to good use would be worth it – like using them to grow food. After all, it’s a common practice in many places to grow potatoes in tires.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Tire Garden Planting: Are Tires Good Planters For Edibles https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/vgen/tires-as-planters-for-edibles.htm

old tires used as planters

Are Tires Safe?

The EPA and Center for Disease Control have not found links to health hazards from either intact tires or crumb rubber, but studies are ongoing and officials acknowledge that more data is necessary for an accurate evaluation. Exposure to chemicals present in crumb rubber at very high levels is known to cause birth defects, neurological and developmental deficits, and cancer.

While most concerns are related to the use of crumb rubber in playground environments, some organic gardening experts argue that whole tires eventually break down and release chemicals that can be absorbed by plant roots. Therefore, even trace amounts of these chemicals can pose a substantial risk over time. Many reputable organic gardening sources caution against growing edibles in tires.

The short-term use of tires as raised containers is generally considered safe. Rubber tires do break down as they age and release the same metals and chemicals known to be an immediate problem when they're burned. However, it's an extremely slow process, which is why they pose such a problem in the environment. It takes many decades for a tire to fully break down. However, the process is constantly on-going in at least small amounts.

Tires contain a host of chemicals and metals that should not be in the human body. And they do gradually erode and break down, leaching those chemicals into the environment. It’s because of these pollution concerns that it’s so hard to dispose of old tires legally. But that leads directly to the other side of the argument: since it’s so hard to dispose of old tires legally, the things are building up and causing a real waste problem. You would think that any opportunity to put the old things to good use would be worth it – like using them to grow food. After all, it’s a common practice in many places to grow potatoes in tires.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Tire Garden Planting: Are Tires Good Planters For Edibles https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/vgen/tires-as-planters-for-edibles.htm

Wire Cylinders

Place five or six potatoes 6-8 inches apart at the bottom of the cylinder with the eyes facing up. Cover with 3-4 inches of planting mix and water.

A wire cylinder 3 feet wide contains about 7 square feet, meaning you should add 3.5 ounces of fertilizer for plants that size. You should be able to harvest 10 pounds of potatoes for every pound planted.

To calculate the square footage of a cylinder or bucket, multiply its radius by 2 and multiply that number by 3.14.

wire cylinders

chicken wire containers

Straw Bales

Straw and hay are often packaged identically, and many garden centers and farmers who sell their extra bales use the term straw for both straw and hay bales. Avoid using hay with all the seed heads intact since they will sprout and produce a crop of grains.

a strawbale garden

DIY Wood Boxes

Build or buy a bottomless square box. Discarded pallets are a good source of free wood. Plant the same way you would a raised bed. The box is designed so you can add additional slats and soil as the plants grow. You can temporarily remove the bottom slat for harvesting, or just tip the box over.

This method can be useful for growing potatoes where ground soil is poor. Yields are about the same as a raised bed. However, the amount of time and effort required may not make it worthwhile. You may be able to build something similar that's more functional.

home made wood boxes

Commercial Grow Bags And Burlap Sacks

grow bags and burlap bags

cloth grow bags

burlap grow bags

Wading Pools

If you have a kiddie pool you no longer use, make it into a raised bed. Be sure to add a number of holes for sufficient drainage.

plastic wading pool containers

wading pool garden

(Above: my wading pool garden)

Aquaponic, Hydroponic, Aeroponic Potatoes

Use seed potatoes or tuber pieces from a plant nursery. Grocery store potatoes are typically treated to prevent sprouting.

Cut large seed potatoes into pieces that each have one or two eyes or use small, whole seed potatoes.

Start your hydroponic potatoes at the end of March or early in April. Place the seed potato pieces about 4-6 inches apart with the cut sides facing downward. Bury the pieces an inch deep in perlite. As tubers begin to develop, keep them covered with perlite to prevent sun damage.

Care and Harvesting

Use ordinary tap water to water the seed potatoes every 3-5 days. Prevent the perlite from drying out. When they have sprouted, continue watering as before but alternate between plain water and a fertilizer mixture of 1 tsp. of 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer with micronutrients to 1 gallon of water.

When the vines are approximately 18", switch to a fertilizer with a higher potassium number, such as a 10-10-20 blend, which will boost the development of the tubers.

Harvest mature tubers about three weeks after the vines die, and/or harvest small, tender tubers as soon as 70 days after planting.

hydroponically grown potatoes

potato towers

Laundry Baskets

Plastic and woven willow or straw laundry baskets work well as portable containers for potato planting.

laundry basket container

basket container

Old Ice Chest

Is the lid broken or your old cooler or is it time for a new one? Repurpose it as a potato planter.

ice chest planter

Trash Cans

Don't forget to add drainage holes in the bottom.

trash can containers

Garbage Bags

Fill the bag with a minimum of 8" of soil. Add leaves or compost to give the growing medium a loose texture. Potatoes like a little acidity; add some peat moss.

Water must be able to drain out. Be sure to poke dozens of holes in the bottom of the bag.

garbage bag planter

Cardboard Boxes

cardboard box planter

cardboard box planter

Old Water Tanks

Any farm with livestock or horses probably has an old water tank that won't hold water anymore. They're also available new and used online and at farm supply and feed stores.

old water trough planter

Food Grade Plastic Buckets

food grade plastic bucket planters

recycle symbol for food grade

Growing From Seeds

Sow true potato seeds 6-8 weeks before last frost at the earliest or your intended date for planting out. Press the seeds into the surface of the potting soil and cover with about 1/8" of soil.

Water seeds once thoroughly with room temperature water, and do not water again until the soil begins to dry out.

Make sure to use high-quality seeds. If you’re using vertical growing rather than in the ground, consider tall mid-to-late-season varieties with heavy sets.

Remember: different kinds of plants will require different kinds of soil. When hilling potatoes, you need slightly acidic, well-drained soil.

In containers, use soil with a generous amount of vermiculite which will shift and accommodate plants as they expand. Other types of soil could constrict growth.

Growing From Seed Potatoes

A week or two before the planting date, set your seed potatoes in an area where they will be exposed to light and temperatures between 60-70° F. to begin the sprouting process.

A day or two before planting, use a sharp, clean knife to slice the larger seed potatoes into smaller pieces. Each piece should be approximately 2" square and must contain at least 1 or 2 eyes (buds). In a day or two your seed potatoes will form a thick callous over the cuts which will help prevent rotting.

Plant small potatoes whole if they are smaller than a golf ball.

safe plastics for planting symbols

Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Potatoes

Planting potatoes usually involves at least a little trial and error. However, if you want to successfully grow potatoes, be sure to avoid the following mistakes:

Leaving plants untended. Don’t expect your plants to thrive if neglected. Plants that turn brown and dry after a week or more probably don’t have a chance of growing properly. If you’re going on vacation, ask someone to water and tend you potatoes.

Always use plenty of soil. Don’t be afraid to add soil around the potato stems so new sets of tubers can develop. You can hill after every two to four inches of growth; use a measuring stick for accuracy.

Don’t wait until the last minute to plant your seed potatoes. Potatoes can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in the early spring, but keep soil temperatures in mind. Potato plants will not begin to grow until the soil temperature has reached 40° to 45° F. The soil should be moist but not water-logged.

Don’t buy generic seed potatoes if you want to harvest lots of potatoes.

Consult your local garden center or other sources to find out which potato varieties thrive in your area.