Growing sweet potatoes, for my sweet potato.

Since I began food gardening, I have always wanted to try growing potatoes.  Dedicating any of the few rows of my small garden to the potato, made little sense though.  That is, until I was introduced to the idea of growing potatoes in containers!  I had to find out more…

Sweet potatoes for my sweet potato

The idea of growing potatoes in such a small space, let alone many pounds of potatoes in this small space, completely caught my attention!

After a little digging around Pinterest last winter for potato growing ideas, I found that people are growing potatoes in little backyard gardens, like mine, in all kinds of different ways!  Containers, laundry baskets, wooden frames, caged towers, bags… You name it, if the garden design will hold growing medium and drain water, chances are potatoes are gonna grow!

Potatoes were never planned for this year’s little garden of mine, never mind, sweet potatoes!   Then, I came across a long forlorn handful of locally grown golden nugget potatoes and a sweet potato, as I was cleaning out the closets one rainy day (most likely fallen victim to a game of Hide-and-seek with my daughter). Instead of the rotting potatoes I expected to remove from the dark recesses of her hiding place, to my surprise, the potatoes had all sprouted off healthy, new little shoots.  As I am sucker for anything that grows, into the ground they would go!

The following, digs a bit deeper into how my potato and sweet potato containers began and now, are growing…


How to grow potatoes in a container

Originally, I wanted to try growing my potatoes in a laundry basket.  My lingering fear of using plastic in the food garden, discussed previously in Plastic bottles and organic backyard gardening, do they mix?, steered me towards a less chemically based approach, the potato tower.  Okay, so maybe it doesn't look like much a tower right now, but it will by the end of the summer!  Most of the materials for building my new, little potato tower were already here, so I began building.  Start to finish, my little caged tower area was ready for soil in about ten minutes.  Here’s what I did:
f
Potato Tower

Potato Tower Directions 
Materials
1. Your sprouted potatoes, cut into halves or quarters
2, growing medium (soil, compost, straw)
3. Garden stakes
4. Wire for caging (don’t forget the wire cutters)
6. Staples & stapler, or other fasteners - for attaching the wire to the stakes
7. Landscaping fabric
Steps
1. Secure stakes to the ground
2. Attach the wire to the stakes, (carefully, it's sharp!) then cut away the excess roll with your snipers and safely tuck away any loose wires
3. Cut a strip of landscaping fabric, long enough to wrap around the cage, and place secure around the base of the cage to prevent the first layer from spilling out as it is planted and watered.
4. Place 4 -6 inches of growing medium in the bottom the cage
5. Enter, the potatoes… spread evenly in the bottom of the cage
6. Then, spread another couple inches of growing medium over the new sprouts…
7. Viola, your first potato tower!
8. Now, get out the hose, soak and keep moist for the following week, or two, until the new potato plants have fully established themselves in the base of the tower.
9. As the potatoes grow up the tower, continue to add compost, straw or other growing medium, in layers, and water, until the potato tower is full.   
The sprouted potatoes were chopped into quarters, and placed them in the bottom of the cage on top of about four inched of compost and potting soil and then covered  it with another layer of potting soil.  These great directions from Growing Lots Urban Farm and GreenUpgrader.com were definitely the source of this garden inspiration, my little project seems to have turned into a combination of the two ideas, be sure to give them a read if you are planning on giving the idea a try!

Over a week went by… Nothing.  I was sure at this point the little experiment was a bust.  Then, it rained. It rained, and it rained and it rained, during which time, the average temp dropped about to the mid teens.  After the storm passed and the weather returned to the mid 20’s for a few days, finally the tiny green sprouts of the potato plants appeared in the bottom of the cage.

Potatoe Tower 1

That was over a week ago.  Since then, I have added a new layer of soil, one of grass clippings and the potato plants just keep on growing!

Here's how they are lookin' now...

The Potatoe Tower 2

Whether a cage, a container, a laundry basket, the same method of planting and care, should apply. Try it out for yourself, let me know how it goes!

A big bucket o’ sweet potato fries, I hope…

The container of sweet potatoes is completely an experiment and I am now wondering if I should have planted the new sweet potato shoots at the top of the container, on top of the filled container.  Sadly, the neat pin I found only provided a picture of the end result, void of any of the needed growing info.  So, I went ahead, assuming they grow like other potatoes…

Note: Please forgive my contradictory use of plastic for my little sweet potato experiment, I did this in part to evaluate the different methods of growing. 

growing sweet potatoes container

This, is what I hope to find as the end result...

growing sweet potatoes
Sourcehttp://media-cache-cd0.pinimg.com/originals/0e/c9/62/0ec96237149af03fdb142eb3cc409b99.jpg
Super simple little project, really.  I found an old, clean container and punched some drainage holes in the bottom, filled it with about four inches of soil, placed the separated shoots around the bottom and then covered with an inch or soil of soil. As the soil used was pretty dry, I soaked the newly planted container through to the bottom and drained off any excess water.

The sweet potato container was just planted over the weekend, so far no changed.  If all goes well, I am looking forward to a winter filled with sweet potato fries!

Now that we have the growing part out of the way, let’s talk Eats!  Here is one of my favorite recipe for just that, give these grilled sweet potato fries from +Ali Ebright over at GimmeSomeOven.com, a try!

Grilled sweet potato fries - The recipe

Check back on Saturday for our first Sizzling Summer Saturday’s, grilling for vegetables feature, this week is all about the potato and my fave ways for grilling on the BBQ, grill, or campfire.

Have any potato growing tales, fails, or success stories to share? 

Please share this, and your potato growing tale to all garden friends. I would love to hear more about how all the other alternative gardeners out digging around in their gardens, are growing potatoes this year!

Related Posts & Ideas

The unsquared of square foot garden spacing

Vertical vegetables, on a platter of raised garden bed

Grow. Eat. Compost. Repeat! A beginner's guide to composting

Potato Towers and Living Fences VIA +Growing Lots Urban Farm

Visit my profile on Pinterest for more awesome garden ideas!

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