If you had to, you could live on almost nothing but potatoes. That’s made them one of the most important crops in human history. Entire civilizations would not have existed without them. And you can grow this powerful food crop in a 5 gallon bucket.
There’s a trick to growing high potato yields. As the potatoes grow, continue piling soil onto the plants. This forces the plants to supercharge their root growth to keep up. Those roots are what we call potatoes. Now you know why potatoes are grown in hills.
When growing potatoes in buckets, start with a couple inches of growing medium (compost works great) and build up the soil level as the season progresses. Experienced bucket wrangler Mike from GYH explains how he has successfully grown potatoes in buckets for years.
While water is of utmost important in growing plants, properly draining excess water away is a close second.
I’ve had a few questions from people who have tried growing potatoes in buckets but only ended up with a crop of mush. This is probably an issue of improper drainage. You have to drill drainage holes in your bucket if you are using it to grow plants! This applies not just for potatoes but for any plant grown in your buckets
Alternatively, you can fill the bottom few inches of your bucket with gravel. This is the same principle that indoor hanging baskets use to supply drainage. You just have to take care not to water your plant so heavily that the water level inside the bucket reaches your soil layer.
Yield of Bucket Potatoes
According to folks who have calculated yield for potato buckets, you can expect about an average yield of 1.5 pounds of potatoes per bucket.
I like to compare this number with the amount of potatoes you need to survive for a year. You can survive on potatoes alone, remember? It takes about 6 pounds of potatoes to equal that magic 2000 calories a day you need to be healthy. So you will need about one bucket’s crop of potatoes for each meal.
That means that if you’re growing potatoes for survival, you really need to accomplish a much higher yield, or grow your spuds right in the ground.
Growing Special Potato breeds
If you’re growing potatoes, don’t bother with a bland old russet or other boring variety from the store. Grow rare breeds. My favorite rare breeds are the purple potatoes.
A New Zealand agricultural study found that red and purple potatoes contain two to three times more antioxidants than plain white potatoes. If you eat as many potatoes as I do, the extra antioxidants are enough to noticeably increase your vigor.
You can’t just plant potatoes you buy in the store, because they are treated with chemicals such as Budnip that specifically inhibit potato shoot growth. It’s futile to bury potatoes that won’t grow into plants. Last year I grew Russian Blue, but I have heard very good things about Purple Peruvian so I’m growing that variety this year.
Storing your potatoes for the next growing season
Under the right conditions, a potato can remain alive for quite some time without any attention. A potato stores starch and water, which provide it with the nutrients it needs. When you harvest your potatoes and plan to grow new ones in the next season, all you have to do is store them in a dark cool place. The potato will start to grow roots, as you can see in the image. You can simply stick these potatoes in the soil when the temperature is right and grow new potatoes with them.
Grow More with Buckets!