growing potatoes in small spaces

Grow potatoes in small spaces with 7 easy steps

by Comments (11)

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Find our full disclosure here.

If your garden is more “postage stamp” than “grand estate,” you may think you don’t have room to grow a hearty crop of spuds. But when you want to grow potatoes in small spaces, know that it isn’t as difficult as you may think. Yes, if left to sprawl, potato plants do take up a lot of real estate, but if you grow potatoes in bins instead of in the ground, it’s easy to get a full-size harvest in minimal space. 

Here are 10 steps to grow potatoes in small spaces:

Step 1: Pick the right variety

Start your tater-growing adventure by deciding what variety of potato to grow. Russets are great for baking and storing, fingerlings are perfect pint-sized spuds, and heirloom varieties come in a rainbow of colors and textures (the potato in the feature image is an heirloom called ‘All Blue‘). No matter what type you choose, be sure to purchase certified disease-free seed potatoes from a reliable source.

Step 2: Make the cut

Officially speaking, seed potatoes aren’t seeds at all. They’re fully developed potatoes that are cut into pieces and planted like a seed. Use a clean, sharp knife to cut each tuber into several sections, being sure each section contains at least one “eye” and an inch of flesh. Let the cut potatoes rest for 24-48 hours before planting. This rest period enables the cut area to callous over and helps keep soil-borne diseases from rotting the tuber before it can grow.

grow potatoes in small spaces with this wire bin technique.

Cut seed potatoes into small pieces before planting. Make sure each section has at least one “eye.”

Step 3: Find a home

Thankfully, potatoes aren’t overly particular about where they grow, but they do produce best where they receive a minimum of six to eight hours of direct sun. Select your planting site accordingly.

Step 4: Set up the bin

Growing potatoes in a bin may just be one of the most fun things you’ll ever do in the garden. It’s easy, and the plants are surprisingly productive. Make a three- to four-foot-wide cylinder of box wire or chicken wire fencing. I like to use fencing that’s four feet tall. Line the inside of the wire bin with a layer of newspaper about ten sheets thick. Fill the bottom eight inches of the bin with a 50/50 blend of compost and potting soil.

Grow potatoes in small spaces using this wire bin system.

Growing potatoes in a wire bin is easy and fun!

Step 5: Plant the taters

Put the cut seed potato sections on top of the compost/potting soil blend. How many seed potatoes you add will depend on the bin’s diameter. When I grow potatoes in small spaces using this technique, I usually put eight to ten pieces per bin. Then, I cover the seed potatoes with another three inches of the potting soil/compost mix. Over the coming weeks, as the plants grow, fill the rest of the container little-by-little with the compost mix until it reaches the top. This technique serves the same function as “hilling” does – it allows more stem area below ground for potato production.

Step 6: Maintenance

The only negative when you grow potatoes in small spaces like this is the constant need to water. Potatoes need to be consistently moist, so a daily dousing during summer’s heat is an absolute must. If Colorado potato beetles become problematic, cover the plants with floating row cover.

 Step 7: Digging your potatoes 

The potatoes are ready to harvest after the plants turn completely brown and die. Allow the tubers to sit in the ground two to three weeks beyond the death of the plants. This resting period is necessary to harden off the skins and make them better able to withstand long periods of storage. To harvest, simply open the wire cylinder and dig through the soil with your hands to uncover the spuds.

For more on growing potatoes, check out the following articles:

How to plant seed potatoes in gardens, containers, and straw
Planting sweet potatoes
Tips for how and when to harvest potatoes

Are you ready to grow potatoes in small spaces? Tell us about it! 

Pin it! Grow potatoes in small spaces with this handy technique.

Related Posts

11 Responses to Grow potatoes in small spaces with 7 easy steps

  1. Daryle in VT says:

    I have grown potatoes in truck tires. Fill the first tire with composted soil. Plant the spuds. Then add tires as the potatoes grow. Harvest? Lean against the pile!

  2. Linda McGilvray says:

    Next year we will try this method. Thanks

  3. Save Chapman says:

    I have grown potatoes in containers for several years. This summer, my russets came out peanut-shaped, rather than oblate. They were pinched in the middle. Is this because of lack of watering?

    • Interesting. My first thought was inconsistent irrigation, but it could be a nutritional issue, too. I suggest having your soil tested to determine if there are any deficiencies and to see if the pH is on target.

  4. Catherine says:

    I have used a black compost bin as I don’t find them great for producing the amount of compost I need.
    Sometimes my potatoes have a brown hollow center. Any ideas as what causes this?

    • That’s called “hollow heart” and it’s a physiological disorder that usually results from inconsistent watering. Be sure your potato crop is regularly watered throughout the growing season. This is especially important when growing them in containers and bins. It’s also symptomatic of a possible calcium deficiency, but inconsistent watering tends to be far more common that a calcium deficiency.

  5. Susan says:

    Seems like a great idea – but how do you keep the paper in place? Seems like it would fall over, allowing the soil to spill out the sides.

    • I’ve never had the newspaper fall over. I just make sure the bin is filled in with more growing medium as I add more newspaper layers to the ring. Using a thickness of several sheets keeps it from decomposing before the end of the growing season.

  6. Dick says:

    My garden is very small so I planted my potatoes between my peppers. I’m getting plenty of foliage, should I “hill” them or just let them go?

  7. Aranka says:

    I’m growing potatoes in trashbags, on my balcony. Works well and it’s fun to be able to eat my own potatoes a few times, even though I don’t have a garden. I do hill them, and this year I’m going to plant peas in the trashbags, as soon as I’ve hilled the potatoes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *