Skip to content


How NOT to Plant Potatoes in Containers

Also known as: Jim was right, and I was wrong.

Or: Why shortcuts are a bad idea.

Or: It doesn’t hurt to think ahead while gardening.

This post had four possible titles. Take your pick. (I have a good idea which one Jim would choose, however!)

This year, I decided to try growing potatoes in containers after I heard that it’s easy to do and especially easy to harvest without damaging the potatoes. In addition, much of our garden space is spoken for, so branching out into container gardening seemed a great way to expand our territory.

I did not have pots the appropriate size around. We remembered visiting a cool hamburger place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, called Motoraunt, which is one of the most unique restaurants we’ve ever visited. We were there in July, and there were lines of white 5 gallon containers sporting healthy tomato plants all around the property. The owner said she grew all of the tomatoes they used, serving them as they ripened and wrapping all the green tomatoes in newspaper so they’d ripen all winter long, and, given Edmonton’s short growing season, that’s pretty impressive. I thought if they could use 5 gallon buckets for growing tomatoes, I could use them for growing potatoes.

I had prepared my seed potatoes by cutting them and letting them form a callus. Then I thought I should hurry up and plant them before they dried up so I had to get my hands on some 5 gallon buckets. In desperation, I purchased the very last one available at our local garden store ($2.99) While walking to the car, I spied another used white bucket sitting by the garbage pile at a restaurant across the street. It wasn’t too dirty so I took that along. On the way home, I saw another one in an alley next to the garbage so I took that too. I cleaned out the buckets when I got home.

Then I planted the potatoes in one good-sized black plastic pot and the three 5 gallon buckets. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I should have made drainage holes in the containers but I was in a big hurry. Maybe I thought I’d make them later. Maybe I didn’t really think much about it. I put the buckets in the yard and left them to grow potatoes.

After a couple of days of rainy weather, there was standing water in the white buckets. I tried to dump some water out without disturbing the planted potatoes, but that was hard to do. And it kept raining.

On Saturday past, Jim asked me what I was thinking when I planted something in a container with no drainage.

Um, not thinking is probably the best way of describing the situation.

In a moment of do-it-now, Jim had the hand drill out in the yard and nice drainage holes in all three buckets in a jiffy.

It may be too late for my first round of seed potatoes to be saved, however. I’m going to give them a couple of days more (I’m an optimist) but I may need to buy more seed potatoes to replace the possibly too water-logged and/or rotted by now original ones. (… Jim suggested realistically)

So the moral of this gardening story is Think ahead while gardening.

Or Shortcuts can lead to minor disasters.

Or Do not plant potatoes (or probably anything) in containers without drainage holes.

Or Jim was right.

Enough said.

Posted in • Growing.

Tagged with , .


4 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Tweets that mention How NOT to Plant Potatoes in Containers | Our Twenty Minute Kitchen Garden -- Topsy.com linked to this post on June 16, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JeanAnn Van Krevelen, cool springs press. cool springs press said: How NOT to Plant Potatoes in Containers: http://ht.ly/1ZimK via the 20 Minute Garden […]

  2. Potato Pledges and Other Ways to Share Garden Produce | Our Twenty Minute Kitchen Garden linked to this post on April 23, 2011

    […] volunteers pointed out. I don’t know if people were encouraged to join by my willingness to share my story of potato failure last year, but I tried to explain that pledging to grow potatoes was a low-risk gardening […]

  3. How to grow potatoes in buckets | Our Twenty Minute Kitchen Garden linked to this post on December 6, 2011

    […] belief motivated me to give growing potatoes in buckets another chance. Given my lack of success in 2010, I had lots of room for […]

  4. Upgrading your gardening skills in the off-season | Our Twenty Minute Kitchen Garden linked to this post on July 7, 2012

    […] haven’t been announced yet, but I’ll be checking back often to see what they will offer. I’m sorry I didn’t attend the workshop on Growing Potatoes last year; if it’s offered again, you can be sure I won’t miss […]

You must be logged in to post a comment.