Potatoes in the Ground vs Container

Had a very small garden this year, mostly in containers. The tomatoes and cucumbers did okay in the “Earth Box” made from a Rubbermaid Roughneck 18 gallon container, and the potatoes were an interesting experiment.

I had taken a 50 gallon plastic water drum and cut it into thirds, the intention being to fill each third as the plants grew with compost and grass clippings, doing the same with the potatoes on the ground.  The potatoes in the ground died back in early September, while the potatoes in the barrel continued until the frost.

With a warm early November weekend and a few moments to spare, I was able to go and harvest the potatoes. From each “plot” of five plants, here are the findings:

  • The ones in the ground took about twenty minutes to harvest an yielded 2.71 lbs. with many immature potatoes.
  • Many roots from the invading blackberry plants made difficult digging.
  • Easy to damage the potatoes with the pitchfork
  • The barrel potato planter took five minutes to harvest and yielded 3.56 lbs.  with mostly full size potatoes.
  • No invading roots
  • easy to harvest
  • most potatoes full size

The barrel was at a little over 1/3 filled with compost/grass clippings which makes me think adding more compost and less grass clippings I may be able to create three potato “rings” by laying down several layers of newspaper for the bottom layer, putting the potato seeds on the newspaper then covering with good garden soil, adding materials as they grow to the top, then topping off with grass clippings.

Sadly this is all I was able to do this year, but a couple of more warm days may allow me to set up the beds for next year with some well rotted manure and a good layer of grass/leaf clippings from the last mowing of the year.

Potato "plot" on the ground.  Many roots from neighboring blackberries made for difficult harvest.

Potato “plot” on the ground. Many roots from neighboring blackberries and “creeping charlie”.

plastic barrel cut in thirds, only 2/3 used.

Potato barrel with second “ring”.

Second third of the potato barrel removed - only three inches of material above the bottom.

Potato barrel second third removed – only three inches above the top. Could have done without it.

Potato barrel dumped on the ground with the potatoes visible.

Potato barrel dumped onto the ground with spuds exposed.

Posted in Container
2 comments on “Potatoes in the Ground vs Container
  1. Nancy says:

    My Mother & I planted our potatoes much like yours except we used straw with a little dirt. We had great potatoes! Thanks for the reminder!

    • Andrew says:

      Hi Nancy, thanks for dropping by! We’ve still got some “King Harry” potatoes from last season that will be going into my bins this spring. Still have to buy some new seed potatoes, and have never had any problems from season to season, but I keep them separate and buy new just in case. Better some potatoes than none, and they’re easy to grow and taste so good!

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