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 about 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!
Pros of a Laundry Basket Garden
- A laundry basket is lightweight – 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!
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. You can speed up the sprouting by first chitting the potatoes, or pre-sprouting them – check out my related blog post on the topic: Are You Chitting Me? Preparing Seed Potatoes for Planting
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. You could also choose to plant through the holes (think strawberry pot.)
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 until they’re added to the menu. 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.
Meanwhile, you can take a look at my Pinterest Board – Potatoes | Goodness Unearthed – for all things potato.
P.S. Potatoes are a really no-fuss crop. They can be grown in virtually anything as long as they have enough space, the soil is loose and well drained, and you place them in a sunny spot.
And when I say you can grow them in “virtually anything” I mean it literally. Check out my related post (Potatoes in Grow Bags) and see for yourself.
Other Potato Growing Resources:
Organic Gardening – 7 Ways to Plant Potatoes
Sunset Gardening – How to Grow Potatoes in Towers
PreparednessMama – Creative Ways for Growing Potatoes in Containers
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