By Sommer Cartier, for Let's Talk Plants! November 2021.
Growing potatoes in a bag is a fun and resourceful way to produce a crop of home-grown veggies with very little space. It can also be a great activity for engaging children in the garden and cultivating those little green thumbs. All you need is a bag, seed potatoes, some potting soil and a warm space with access to sunlight. With these basic materials and a little tender care, you will be enjoying a wonderful bounty of home grown potatoes this winter.
Step 1: Give your potatoes a head start by allowing them to sprout before planting. This process, called “chitting” and will encourage your potatoes to grow a little quicker. This will take about 4 weeks. Once they’ve begun to sprout, cut the potatoes into smaller pieces (you can also plant them whole). Each piece must contain at least one growing eye. This can be identified by a bump where the piece is beginning to sprout.
Step 2: Place your growing bag in a warm sunny spot with 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day (sunny balconies and patios are great locations.) If opting to use a repurposed bag, trash bags or burlap sacks are great choices. If using a trash mag, make sure to cut holes in the bottom of your bag for drainage.
Step 3: Roll down the edges of your bag until you have an approximately 4 to 5 inches of depth. Add enough potting soil to burry 3-4 potatoes, eyes up, in 3 inches of soil then water thoroughly. When your potatoes have grown approximately 7 inches, repeat the process. Unfold the edge of the bag and add an additional 4 inches of potting mix. As the plants grow, repeat this process until you’ve reached the top of the bag. This is a very important step. As plants begin to grow the lower stems must remain covered with soil to avoid exposure to sunlight; stems exposed to sunlight may not produce tubers.
Step 4: Always be mindful of moisture. The soil must be evenly moist throughout the growing process without becoming overly damp or soggy.
Step 5: After three or four months, the plants should start to turn yellow and even flower. At this point, stop watering the potatoes. Empty the bag after one week of no watering, and pick the ripe potatoes from the soil.
Hopefully, you are now feeling inspired to convert to potato bags this year. Growing potatoes in bags is a great gardening activity for kids, it’s cost effective and it’s a wonderful solution to the common problem of limited outdoor space.