Yes Mom, You Can Grow Potatoes in a Laundry Basket
This year I am experimenting with small space gardening in my less than ideal yard, and I’ve promised not to whine about it. I didn’t realize the vast possibilities for growing in containers until I started researching it and now I’m hooked. You can grow anything, in almost any kind of container, as long as it’s big enough – even potatoes in a laundry basket.
My mother (not a gardening gal, by the way) recently came over and commented on the unusual basket on my deck. A burgundy colored laundry basket actually. This is a response to her comments – Yes Mom, I can grow potatoes in a laundry basket!
The Pro’s and Con’s of a Laundry Basket Garden
- A laundry basket is light weight – perfect for patio and deck gardening.
- A laundry basket is cheap – we’re talking dollar store cheap. If it only lasts one season, I’m not out a bunch of cash. You can’t say that about some plastic pots.
- A laundry basket comes in different sizes – tall, short, round, square, there is a basket for you!
- You can compost the soil in the fall, no need to worry about crop rotation in the garden.
- A laundry basket is easy to move around and lift, especially when you need to add extra soil.
- A laundry basket is not going to win any Better Homes and Gardens design awards, but you can color coordinate them!
- A laundry basket has holes – so you need a way to keep in the soil. You could also choose to plant through them (think strawberry pot.)
The Potato Laundry Basket Process:
Drill holes in the bottom of the laundry basket
Get three- to – five seed potatoes, depending on the size of your basket
Add at least 4 inches of potting soil (to keep it light). Potatoes need well drained, loose soil.
Put newspaper or straw around the inside of the basket to hold in the soil
Place your seed potatoes and cover them with at least 3 inches of potting soil
Once your plants have grown 6 inches or so…(it took mine 30 days to get to this point)
Add more newspaper and soil, covering the leaves up to 4 inches from the top
I have enough room to add a few more inches of soil, once they grow taller
If you have a big enough laundry basket, you can continue to water and add potting soil until the potato plant starts to flower. Once it flowers, give it consistent water and wait…
On a dry day, gently pour out your laundry basket onto your work area, being careful not to puncture the tubers. The soil should not be compact, so it should be easy to do. Compost the soil.
New potatoes will be ready for harvest after about 10 weeks, or you can harvest all of your potatoes once the vine leaves turn yellow and wither, usually about 15 weeks. Don’t give them any water once they get to this stage or the potatoes may rot.
Make sure you brush off any soil clinging to the potatoes, then store them in a cool, dry, dark place. The ideal temperature for storage is 35 to 40°F and remember potatoes and apples don’t mix; their ethylene gas will cause potatoes to spoil. Washing potatoes shortens their storage life so don’t wash them until right before you use them.
This is a frugal and fun way to grow small batches of potatoes, right on your deck or patio. Right now I’m 5 weeks into my experiment. I will update the harvest data and post pictures in August.
Other Potato Growing Resources:
Organic Gardening – 7 Ways to Plant Potatoes
Sunset Gardening – How to Grow Potatoes in Towers