Potato Farm

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.

potatoes grown in a 5 gallon bucketThere’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. Here’s a great video by Mel Bartholomew explaining how he does potatoes in buckets.

Proper Drainage

While water is of utmost important in growing plants, properly draining excess water away is a close second.

drilling holes in a 5 gallon bucket

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.

Grow More with Buckets!

Also see our detailed tutorial on growing sweet potatoes in buckets or watch our new Gardening with 5 Gallon Buckets video for growing many other plant varieties.

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22 thoughts on “Potato Farm

    • You can grow potatoes in a bucket in Texas, but you need to start really early and give them time to be done in the spring so that they don’t have to do a lot of growing in the summer heat.

      • Is it too late to grow them now? I live in San Antonio and I really want to grow potatoes.

        If it’s too late to grow them outdoors, can I grow them indoors with artificial light or by a window?

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  2. Question: Should holes be punched in the bottom of the buckets used for growing the potatoes or growing anything? Comment above states he ended up with a bucket of mush. Thanks.

  3. I did this this for the first time this yr. I got 5 little potatoes out of one bucket (about the size of a nickle) just the other day. The tops had died off so I don’t know what happened. I still have one bucket to go that hasn’t quite died back yet. Very disappointed. Prolly won’t mess with growing them this way next yr.

    • sir…i understand what you mean…..i have planted potatoes in 5 gal buckets also…..but not the way these folks do it. i have filled the bucket with dirt then added the potatoes just a few inches down….not good….i am trying it there way with just a few inches of dirt then put a few potatoes in with stem up and put a few more inches on top. then wait till about 6″ tall and keep adding dirt till you get to the top of the bucket….LEAVE ABOUT A 12″ GAP FOR EASY WATERING

  4. Hi Trevor,

    Thank you for sharing this. I was talking to a farmer a month ago and saw she was growing potato in buckets. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen – especially for city living. We setup 5 buckets with potatoes feeding them only organic compost and waiting for our spuds to grow. – Thank you for sharing!

  5. How often and how much water is required to grow potatoes in 5 gal buckets.I have drain holes,my tator vines have grown over a foot above the bucket,and they were planted about 2 Inches from the bottom.they have been inside, except a few hours on two occasions,

    • you can carefully dig down into your buckets and find potatoes. be careful not to puncture or you will have to pick that potato. do not detach them from the main root vines. you can then cover them back up with soil and keep them growing if they are too small for you. as long as the plant is still alive you can “steal” potatoes from it whenever you need to.

  6. I don’t know when you are supposed to harvest the potatoes.
    I waited until they’d finished flowering but the potatoes were small and only a few after months of watering and watching… appreciate your comment.

    • Potatoes are done growing when the leaves on the plant dwindle, typically when the days get shorter and the amount of direct daily light is less than half the day is long (has daylight). This is generally true for most deciduous flora.
      Regarding their size, I would ask about what you fed the plant. Plants need three main things – N, P & K. When looking at fertilizers in the store, they will all have a rating for their NPK output in a three number array. A very common pellet fertilizer is 10-10-10 and is considered a good all around slow release food for plants. More specific fertilizers like dried blood (15-0-0) and bone meal (3-15-0) can be used in more precise ways. (N) Nitrogen is for the greens above ground (I give my broccoli and spinach extra dried blood to greatly boost output.), (P) Phosphorous is for the roots (this is the one for potatoes) and (K) Potassium, which feeds the guts of the plant that moves water and nutrients around and the immune system. I have had really good luck feeding my potato plants extra bone meal each year and you get some really fat tubers when doing so. Just be careful to not over feed as you can scorch the plant. Which conceptually dovetails into concerns for PH. If the acidity of the plant is too high or low for the potato, it will be unable to absorb any nutrients at all. Bone meal, if used moderately should not change the soil ph too much, but could cause havoc if you dumped a huge pile directly on the greens of the plant.
      To be organic, you can use chicken and earthworm dung as a general fertilizer, as both are highly nutrient rich, and have a very low impact on PH.

    • Should work but I think a “potato tower” is a more popular option. Might be a moisture thing – maybe not enough drainage with the trench method. Depends on your climate though.

  7. I have 2.5 pounds of potatoes that i bought for gardening, how many potatoes in one 15 gallon bucket do i put in? This is my first time growing potatoes

    • In the Video – He states 4 to a Bucket. – Since you posted back in April, I imagine you figured it out by now. I’m going to try this tommorrow as the ones I planted didn’t emerge, So this idea intrigues me.

  8. I suppose that dnepeds on where you live. You could buy some better established plants and you could get a decent amount of tomatoes, peppers or cucumbers. I am growing all of these upside down in pots right now. Potatoes are a good bet. Do a search of potato and tire garden. It is where you plant in one tire. As it grows, you add another tire and dirt.

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