How to Grow Potatoes in Shopping Bags for an Extended Harvest

KJ Barber
By KJ Barber December 31, 2019 06:58

How to Grow Potatoes in Shopping Bags for an Extended Harvest

Harvesting your potatoes in bags is not only a good way to grow them in small spaces, but it can also extend the harvest time. In addition, it’s also helpful in keeping pests and disease away from the spuds. And, it’s not a complicated process!

When planting your seed potatoes in late February or March, you can have a harvest through the summer months and into the fall. Or, you can plant in August, to have a crop of spuds for the winter months. These spuds are also referred to as “second cropping potatoes”.

You can see in the table below when to plant, and use it as a guide for when to expect fresh potatoes.

Cropping Type Planting time begins Final planting date Harvest from planting date
First early potatoes End of February Late May 10 weeks
Second early potatoes March Late May 13 weeks
Early maincrop potatoes March Late May 15 weeks
Maincrop potatoes March Mid May 20 weeks
Second cropping potatoes Early August End of August 11 weeks

Related: How to Adjust the pH in Soil and Water for Abundant Harvests

Chitting Your Potatoes

How to Grow Potatoes in Shopping Bags for an Extended HarvestYour seed potatoes will benefit from a “chitting” process. This is particularly true for the earlies and second earlies.

The process involves letting them sprout with tentacle-like growths that form after potatoes sit around for a while, which will help with quicker growth and denser crops.

However, second cropping potatoes (those planted in August) does not require this process.

To encourage the chitting process along, lay out the seed potatoes in a cool (not freezing) and bright location. Some people use empty egg cartons for this stage. When the chits reach approximately 1” in length, the seed potatoes are ready for harvest. They are typically about the size of a chicken egg, but can vary in size.

Keep in mind, you will want to plant them with the sprouting end facing up.

Related: Preserving Potatoes Year Round; A Solid Choice for Preppers

How to Plant Potatoes in Bags

How to Grow Potatoes in Shopping Bags for an Extended HarvestOld school methods would have you plant the potatoes at the bottom of the bag, then add more compost or soil as they grow.

However, newer methods are showing that is not necessary, as long as the spuds are kept protected from sunlight by the soil and compost.

Follow these steps to plant your seed potatoes in bags:

  • Fill a bag (about 2 gallon in size) with good quality compost and soil to about 1” below the top of the bag
  • Carefully bury a single chitted seed potato, about 5” down, with chitting sprouts facing upward
  • Cover the potato with compost and soil
  • Place the seeded bag in a sunny, but frost free zone
  • Water the bag regularly (whenever the compost has signs of drying out)
  • Feed the plant with fertilizer about every other week.

The table that was shared above is a guide for when to expect a harvest.

How to Grow Potatoes in Shopping Bags for an Extended Harvest

How to Grow Potatoes in Shopping Bags for an Extended Harvest

How to Store Potatoes

After you have harvested your potatoes, allow them to dry out in an area that is well ventilated, at least for a few hours until the skin is dry. Once you feel they have dried out enough, you can store them in potato sacks or paper, in a cool and dark area.

So, as you can see, it’s a very simple process. But, it’s a process that will allow you to have an extended harvest, even in tight spaces.

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KJ Barber
By KJ Barber December 31, 2019 06:58
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  1. Armin December 31, 16:55

    Another creative way to grow crops in a container. You could take it one step further and do away with the bucket completely.Just use the plastic bags (sturdy ones) to grow the potatoes and then hang them on your fence. The same idea they use for growing tomatoes and strawberries. I only have a couple of concerns. KJ says nothing about putting drain holes in the bags and buckets. As plastic isn’t all that permeable, especially if you’re considering growing potatoes, you have to be very careful with the watering. Potatoes thrive in a well-drained loamy soil. If you let the soil get too wet your potatoes will rot. And as far as I know you don’t have to plant the whole potato to get new potato plants. Just the “eyes” so that from one potato you can get multiple plants. Other than that an interesting article which has given me some more good ideas.

    Reply to this comment
    • Chele December 31, 20:34

      If you make your bags from landscape fabric (available at big box stores) and UV protected upholstery thread for outdoor use, they will allow extra water to drain while holding your soil, compost & fertilizer in. Just be careful not to make then too big. 2-3 gallons is plenty of space for a healthy plant.
      And yes, you can cut the potato into pieces, each with at least 1 eye, for planting. Just remember to allow the cut pieces to “scab” over (dry up and form a skin over the cut area) before planting.
      Good luck!

      Reply to this comment
      • Gary in TEXAS June 24, 11:10

        Thanks for the heads up on the “scabbing”. I would have planted them right away. That would make a big difference with the harvest. One step closer to doing it better.

        Reply to this comment
  2. jansnowy December 31, 16:59

    I like this idea but not the use of plastic bags to grow my food in. Perhaps some burlap bags might be a better choice. Want to try this soon!

    Reply to this comment
    • Chele December 31, 20:28

      Burlap should work well for at least 2 harvests, but may not last much after that. Landscape fabric can be sewn into bags with strap handles and used the same way as the plastic bags. If sewn with Outdoor upholstery thread with UV protection, they will last much longer. Mine are 3 years old and still going strong.

      Reply to this comment
      • SilverWolf July 6, 16:44

        Could you use some of those “fabric” reusable bags that the grocery stores sell. They would allow for extra moisture to evaporate and since I have accumulated several extra over the years I would like to find a use for them.

        Reply to this comment
    • Tina April 24, 17:56

      I also like the idea. I think I’ll try a large onion bag?

      Reply to this comment
  3. LisaNJ December 31, 17:26

    Awesome ideas. Thank you so much. You must remember just coz there are no comments it doesn’t mean that ppl are not reading your post. I read everything but usually never comment unless I have a question. But I had to comment this time to say thank you.

    Reply to this comment
    • Max March 23, 01:57

      Lisa save your thanks for “home grown veg” on you tube – that’s where the content for this article was taken from. Go visit Mark’s channel and see some incredible gardening advice.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Survivormann99 December 31, 17:59

    I am green thumb-challenged.

    The potatoes being harvested shown in the last photo are quite small. That is the pathetic result I received when I tried growing potatoes in containers.

    Exactly how does one go about producing a potato three or four times this size? More fertilizer? In a survival situation, truly, “size does matter.”

    Reply to this comment
    • AJ January 1, 18:35

      Size is partially determined by the variety of potato that you plant. That photo seems to be a “fingerling” type potato. There is a place called Potato Garden where you can learn all about potatoes and the different types. They sell seed potatoes as well. I’ve been buying from them for years. Great company to do business with. No, I am NOT a rep for them. Just a very happy customer

      Reply to this comment
      • Survivormann99 January 1, 23:32

        I began my effort with seed potatoes from a well-known company. I have no idea what I did wrong, or what I could have done better, but I got quite a bit of ribbing from the missus concerning my “bountiful harvest.” They looked like the potato shown in the photo.

        Reply to this comment
        • Govtgirl April 24, 10:12

          In real life, a fisherman sits for many hours and a successful day is catching dinner. Fishing shows, however, have them pull ‘me in so fast there is barely time to bait up. The Miracle Grow ads have experts growing their plants and they use the biggest of the expert’s plants.
          Us newbies will get a handful if we are lucky, but maybe we will learn a little about watering along the way or try a different variety the next time. To quote a saying I really dislike, but is true- “It’s a process.” so, I am going to try this and hope you consider doing it too. Good luck. We need it!

          Reply to this comment
      • Mem January 20, 17:47

        Thank you!

        Reply to this comment
    • Chris. G. January 3, 21:56

      If you follow ” home grown veg” on U-Tube you will know that the pic. is of “new potatoes” and also that the bags act as a liner for the pots, so you can gently lift the still growing potatoes and harvest a small amount, for use, while waiting for the regular harvest date. Also “hgv” does mention putting drainage holes in the bottom of the plastic grocery bags.

      Reply to this comment
      • red April 24, 21:41

        Chris: G: I don’t like plastic, but I’m in Arizona. Sun kills it, and the soil gets too hot for the roots. Miss Kitty convinced me to try containers. Again, 5 gallon is too small. A friend gave me a yard toy from his cousin’s bull calf, a dozen 20-gallon mineral tubs the bull used to play with. It took a couple of days but I got them pried apart. Noe other thing nice, most had good drain holes in them. The bull is not polled, but has horns. niio

        Reply to this comment
  5. Tracy December 31, 19:05

    I agree. Plastics leach into the soil. I think a burlap bag would be better.

    Reply to this comment
  6. GG December 31, 19:38

    These seem to be some good ideas but my concern with growing foods this way is that it will feed you but will it have the nutrition that it should have…. It may give one a full belly and still leave one malnourished.

    Reply to this comment
    • jansnowy December 31, 21:36

      Using compost or manure “tea” would be one method of fertilizing them. Starting with good soil is a must but you will need to fertilize them along the way. I wonder if one could put some food scraps in the bottom of the bag/container to start decomposing and thereby adding nutrients too?

      Reply to this comment
    • Miss Kitty January 1, 17:04

      Potatoes are actually one of the more nutritious starches you can grow. It has high levels of vitamin c and fiber, plus other good for you stuff I don’t remember off the top of my head.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck January 6, 04:20

        According to the author of the book, “Paddy’s Lament” the potato contains all the nutrients the human body needs to avoid the vitamin deficiency diseases that generally plague a one crop diet. The Irish peasant at the time of the Great Potato Famine existed on a diet of potatoes, mustard greens and the occasional egg. That diet provided him with all the vitamins he needed to avoid pellagra, scurvy, rickets, etc., etc.

        Now I am no nutritionist, I am just repeating what I read in the book mentioned. I always wondered how the Irish peasant could avoid the nutritional conditions that have plagued poor people for centuries. According to the author of the book, it is the lowly potato.

        You can also make distilled alcoholic beverage from potatoes.

        Reply to this comment
        • red January 6, 10:39

          Yes! My grandmother was widowed in her 50s and went back to college to get her degree as a dietitian. Along with beef, potatoes were in almost every meal. She had a copy of the 1780 German potato cookbook. Everything from bead to candy and on contained the potato. It’s spring here, at last, and I’ll try again to grow some. niio

          Reply to this comment
        • Govtgirl April 25, 00:01

          Funny you should mention distilling. I am still looking for a hard skill I might try to master and checked out the making of liquor after rejecting the idea of beekeeping. Unfortunately, while owning a still is not illegal, using it to make liquor is not. I think you can make fuel, but did not understand the part about vehicle conversion. Bottom line, we’ll be content to eat any potatoes we get.
          We tried hydroponics once as a distraction when our dog died. We used that blue Peter’s stuff as a fertilizer. Got a couple of anemic veggies, but didn’t really want to eat them knowing they’d fed on blue chemicals. Poopy fish water, however, would not faze me at all.

          Reply to this comment
          • red April 25, 15:35

            Gov: American Indians, especially in the north, converted a lot of corn of beer and most berries and other fruit went into wine. The original sour mash was sweet corn (aka green corn, unripe) mashed into a demijohn jug, allowed to ferment for a few days, then sealed and buried till winter. Wine was the same. Elders would strain it out in winter. they had young men haul the liquid to mountain tops to freeze for a few nights, then drain off the liquid. Ice remained behind and the elders made merry on it. Wine, the same. The only time young people were allowed alcohol (I mean under 45 age group) was winter to stave off scurvy. For anyone who thinks we didn’t make booze, the Mescalero got their name from it, makers of mescal. Freezing is the oldest way to make potables. It’s also legal. Might not taste as good, but is good for a good buzz. niio

            Reply to this comment
            • Govtgirl April 25, 19:55

              That is really interesting. Not much good for a SHTF scenario unless it is below freezing outside, but really interesting. Your post prompted me to read about fractional freezing which also is a good de-salanization technique. Guess you would run it through the freezing process several times like the way a good vodka is distilled multiple times. So, for all our friends who aren’t in hot country like you, there are some pluses to living in the frozen north.

              Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck June 23, 17:07

            You need to read the regs concerning making liquor. You are allowed by your masters in the District of Corruption to make wine, beer and spirits in non-commercial quantities for your own consumption. You can have a still and make hard liquor for your own consumption. If you have a guest at your home you can serve it to the guest as part of refreshments. The guest can’t take a quart of your home distillation home with him for enjoyment later on. He has to consume it on your premises. You can’t charge him for it. It has to be consumed as a gift beverage such as you would with a cup of coffee or tea or lemonade.

            If you don’t drink alcohol yourself, you could make up beer, wine or hard liquor and invite friends over to sample your efforts. That way you could get practice making it and not have to drink it all yourself. I think distilling alcohol in an apartment might be difficult. Making beer and wine doesn’t take much room and can be accomplished in a kitchen or spare room.

            There is lots of advice on line about making your own alcoholic beverages. Be advised that your efforts at wine making will not equal what you can buy at Trader Joes, but in the end of times, liquor will be in demand and liquor making skills in equal demand.

            There are a couple of books on making alcoholic beverages at home. Read the reviews. I have read the reviews on a couple and they weren’t worth the money according to the folks who purchased them. Buyer beware.

            Reply to this comment
      • 72StilllKickin January 7, 20:08

        Replying to West Coast Charley, Miss Kitty, and JANSNOWY.
        Good comments. I’m not commenting on the growing process, but potato nutrition.

        The nutritive value of potatoes partially lies in the skill of the cook. If you take a potato and cut it in half, any direction, look at the cut side. You will see the skin, and a circle around the potato just under the skin. The skin contains high vitamin c, especially if raw. Vitamin C is both water soluble and destroyed by heat. (A little girl whose job was to empty the skins of peeled potatoes, during famine days, survived well. Because, being hungry, she was eating the peels as she carried them out.)

        The ring just inside the potato skin is called the “corticle.” That is where the excellent minerals are stored. Food preparers often/usually peel the potatoes, and prepare what remains, which is primarily starch. Furthermore, what did they do with the cooking water, rich with some of the Vitamin C, and many of the minerals?

        Commercially prepared potato for many uses, is mostly starch and little other nutrition. The minerals and C that aid in the digestion of the starch, go down the drain with the water used in the easy_use commercial potato peeler, and cooks who do not know this information.

        Reply to this comment
      • GG January 7, 20:18

        That is only if they are grown in balanced soil….. I also heard a story about a poor family that had only potatoes to eat because they were cheapest at the time…. They peeled the potatoes and cooked the peeled ones for the family. The man ate the peelings to give more of the potatoes to his family. It turned out he was in better health than them because of it. He thought he was doing them a favor….. People just do not know what they do not know.

        Reply to this comment
    • Govtgirl April 24, 10:18

      I tried hydroponics one year and had the same concerns, but since there is a deer problem where I live, this may be ideal for me and will learn something along the way. I bought good dirt and some steer manure. Will ask around about fertilizer for vegetables. Don’t see why the crop shouldn’t be nutritious. Another thread here talked a lot about the nutritional benefits of potatoes. And they did sustain a nation of people until the Great Famine of 1845.

      Reply to this comment
      • red April 24, 22:05

        Gov: No genetic diversity destroyed a lot of nations. Germans also had a potato famine, but weren’t a war zone with tyrants killing and raping at will, either.

        Hydroponics are easy. When the kids were home, we had some fish tanks and used water from them to fertigate potted tomatoes and chilis. The few tobacco raised got taller than I am.

        too much nitrogen means no vegges. Best manure is grass clippings. Let fishworms feed the plants. they make good topsoil, and are the best for most plants. I have to buy worms because they’re not native here.

        Potatoes are fantastic in your climate, but mind slugs. A flashlight and salt shaker will knock most out. Best bet, put down cardboard and mulch over that. Worms like cardboard, but woody fibers cut up slugs and snails. Crushed egg shells do, as well. niio

        Reply to this comment
  7. Miss Kitty January 1, 01:15

    How long does it take from planting before you can harvest?

    I tried container planting and didn’t have much luck. I planted a two inch sprouted potato and got one the size of a marble, so I hope to have better luck with this method.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ginny- WA January 1, 09:50

      Me too.
      My dad planted about 400 chits a year, a plant for each day and some spares for attrition by wildlife if they got in and his plants would produce 5-8 good sized spuds each, enough for a family meal. We didn’t go hungry at least but that was always in the open garden, never in containers. I’ve never had his success but I am in a totally different environment. I can get 4-5 smallish spuds per plant in my garden but all my container trials have failed dismally..
      Either way, I haven’t been able to grow anything more than a token crop of potatoes.

      Reply to this comment
      • red January 2, 08:42

        What variety are you planting? Soil type? Nematode problems? I’m in Arizona and the only potatoes that do well here, so far, are Burbank’s Idaho. Black radishes help against nematodes, as do other things in the cabbage family. Planting cereal rye puts a lot of nitrogen in the soil for them. Potatoes are heavy feeders.niio

        Reply to this comment
        • Ginny - in WA January 4, 01:53

          Not sure what varieties my father grew, but it could have been Sebago and/or Kennebec.
          I currently grow Congo Blue, Prince of Orange, Kennebec and Bintje.
          Soil is clay loam, no nematode problems so far but I try to grow marigolds in my vegie patch all the time to control them.
          Cereal rye puts nitrogen into the soil as a cover crop if dug back in, it isn’t a legume per sec. I also grow some lucerne patches in the garden as well as the beans and peas rotated around for nitrogen fixing. Of course, sometimes the potatoes come back up where they were planted last as the marble sized tubers start sprouting 🙂

          Reply to this comment
          • red January 5, 00:21

            Ginny: The only variety I recognized is Kennebac, a Maine potato. I have adobe clay/sand/caliche soil. Best thing is do like the Indians say, get the caliche out, get under it. One neighbor told me, Y’all a diggin’ sum-a-buck, ain’t ya? Yep. Mom’s side of the family is Longhouse of the Dog Spirit. 🙂

            I can’t get marigolds to grow here, and like them. they chase off a lot of bugs. Black radishes do best in late fall and winter, when little is growing in the garden anyway. Because they can root 2 meters and more deep, they drag up a lot of plant nutrients that would be lost. If you don’t eat them, then cut them off and let the soil be enriched well into the depths. Roots will follow that down and make the plants less susceptible to drought.

            Cereal rye is a mainstay in modern farming. 18 cousins in one country in Penna alone use it as a cover crop along with radishes. The radishes usually die of the cold (below 10 F) and the rye is chopped or flattened at bloom stage for a mulch. What was old, is new again, an agronomist from Oregon U said.

            I don’t do much digging once the garden bed is filled with logs and so on, but do like a good cover. If you have a spot that nothing will be in for a few months, plant the rye. It won’t bloom unless it gets chilled or frozen, but will eat up all the nutrients it can then die off. then, it puts it all back plus what it made for itself.

            If you can, if you need shade, plant mesquite, a legume. Chilis and tomatoes like to grow around it, as do other summer crops. A plus, you get sweet beans from it for a gluten-free flour.But, make certain it’s an eatable variety. some, like Julian, are bitter. Chilean is chalky. Mesquite does well here, Zone 9. Most of it here is Western Honey, good eating, but it droops and who needs thorns clawing at them in the summer? 🙂 I got some velvet, which grows upright, and gets a lot taller for the garden. The leaves can be fed to animals, with some caution, they’re high in protein. Mesquite is a good part of a hidden garden, something eatable most don’t recognize as food. Yet, New York delis sell the flour now for up to $27.00/lb. We’re importing it from Mexico, china, and Australia! It’s crazy the USDA ignores it. Mesquite, here, was the tree of life. It was and for man still is more important that maize and potatoes. And it makes a good armored hedge. niio

            Reply to this comment
            • Ginny - in WA January 5, 03:45

              I’ve got a couple of apples in the garden and a line of trees on the north side of the garden for shade in so the garden does okay but I’m still at the improving stage for much of it. I can get pig and cow poo which helps but it just takes time. I try not to dig much as this farm has been in production for over 100 years and the rocks are mostly deeper than carrots need to go so they can stay in the clay for drainage.

              I’m looking for some of those black radish you mentioned since they sound mighty interesting. I’ve grown Diakon which is also deep rooted and it worked a treat to open up the soil where it grew. We don’t get temps any where near as low as you do so it should grow well here all year round. As always, water in summer is my limiting factor.

              As for the mesquite it is a declared weed here (Western Australia) so I’m not allowed to grow it as is the case for many, many things I’d like to grow. Some are okay if I don’t allow them to escape the garden or control seed set. Bit annoying in some respects but I manage.
              As for the spuds, I can get 2 crops a year if I water the summer crop, the winter crop is rain fed and does okay and we rarely get frosts, just enough to catch me by surprise when I least expect it. I’m also trying to get proper seed from my potato crop, the small berries that form from the flowers. That’s where true genetic diversity can be found and maybe a potato that does well in my very own patch is just waiting to be discovered.

              Reply to this comment
              • Govtgirl April 14, 15:38

                Thank you for adding the bit about the “berries” as I wouldn’t have known that.

                Reply to this comment
              • red April 15, 18:57

                Ginny: Here, young lady! We have to hang Christmas lights on the cactus and orange trees. they shiver so in our bitter winters! If it gets to 22 F, that’s a bad winter. I’m getting ripe blueberry tomatillos already. But, the wind storms can get up to 40 MPH all day, temps close to 90, with a humidity level in the single digits. If people didn’t get tates planted last month, they can forget having them. Sweet potatoes usually go in next month, same with peanuts. There’s a potato, a white, that’s grown from seed. this is all I can find about it.
                And, I think if they do bloom, I’ll save the seed. that’s how Burbank developed his varieties. If you get scurf, remember to plant rye the year before. It stops it from forming.

                Baker’s should have black Schifferstadt in time for fall planting. They will not produce in summer but go to seed. I don’t know if they carry them in Australia, but might. A lot of Germans emigrated there and brought their favorite veggies.

                You probably already know this, but
                here, mesquite, but you’re not allowed that. Ironwood, if you can get it, produces a high protein seed, but it have to be cooked. Usual way is roasted and ground for a butter. Black locus is toxic to people and animals. Some can get away with eating it cooked or raw, but a lot of people get sick from trying it, too. Acacia, donno about Aussie varieties, but seeds here are roasted to make them eatable. And, in Mexico, they’re producing silk from the acacia worm.Write more, let us know how things are. Happy winter to you! niio

                Reply to this comment
            • 72StilllKickin January 7, 20:20

              Replying to West Coast Charley, Miss Kitty, and JANSNOWY.
              Good comments. I’m not commenting on the growing process, but potato nutrition.

              The nutritive value of potatoes partially lies in the skill of the cook. If you take a potato and cut it in half, any direction, look at the cut side. You will see the skin, and a circle around the potato just under the skin. The skin contains high vitamin c, especially if raw. Vitamin C is both water soluble and destroyed by heat. (A little girl whose job was to empty the skins of peeled potatoes, during famine days, survived well. Because, being hungry, she was eating the peels as she carried them out.)

              The ring just inside the potato skin is called the “corticle.” That is where the excellent minerals are stored. Food preparers often/usually peel the potatoes, and prepare what remains, which is primarily starch. Furthermore, what did they do with the cooking water, rich with some of the Vitamin C, and many of the minerals?

              Commercially prepared potato for many uses, is mostly starch and little other nutrition. The minerals and C that aid in the digestion of the starch, go down the drain with the water used in the easy_use commercial potato peeler, and cooks who do not know this information.

              Reply to this comment
    • Survivormann99 January 1, 17:20

      I have noticed something about this web site. Questions are asked, but no answers come from the blogger.

      Clearly, the photo of the potato harvested shows a paltry result. This sort of result is worth the effort? I commented about my similar results. In a survival situation, potatoes like this would likely mean starvation.

      Reply to this comment
      • Ginny - in WA January 2, 03:48

        As I said, my father budgeted on 1 plant per day for our family plus some extra. Thinking back there were probably 2 adults and 3 kids at that time since most of my older brothers and sisters had left home by then.
        We use a lot of potatoes and there is just hubby and me now plus extras when the family come home. For a survival crop you’d need to do the math on how many spuds your average plant produces in your garden and multiply that by the mouths to feed. They are an energy dense food so even just one potato per person per day will be worth something when added to a meal.

        Reply to this comment
        • red January 5, 14:53

          Ginny: One great-grandfather was a braukor/dedanvwiski, a naturalistic doctor. He adamantly refused to put manure on his fields, but did like you do, cover crops. He knew that manure carried parasites to your soil. Compost it if you have to have it, but it can take up to a year for all of them to die. Let the angleworms, if you have them, do their job. A heavy mulch and even clay soil acts like good loam. ‘Tis the season and I’m keeping my eye out for fishworms in bait shops.

          I did that for an older sister in Penn because her rocky red clay was so compacted by hordes of kids she had no worms. I used a foot of chipped wood as mulch to kill the grass and weeds, and planted in that, then added the worms (the chips were loaded with leaves, so nitrogen was not a problem). I couldn’t get a shovel in the soil it was so hard. By end of summer, we could dig in it with our hands. In Ohio’s infamous clay, I did the same with leaves. It was a flood year, but the plants kept their roots out of the water and worms fed the plants. Next year, no rain for months, but plant roots followed worm holes into the earth. Worm manure is the gold of the garden. BTW, rodents do not like a coarse mulch, so no snakes!

          Oxhart carrots were developed for stony soil. Rocks are something that are rare in the San Pedro Valley, unfortunately. I like to build with stone, but the trenches, 3 feet by 20 feet, by 3 feet deep, barely give a wheelbarrow load. Caliche, ouch 🙂

          Baker’s rare seeds carries black Shifferstadt and black Spanish. China Rose or any hot radish will work. Anything in the cabbage family will drop a root 6-8 feet deep. Arugla works as well for a cover in cool damp weather. that’s what they use in Idaho to kill potato nematodes. The funny thing is, angleworms love to live around these roots and they’re a type of nematode. It’s the roots that build carbon in subsoil. Not tilling means the carbon isn’t going to immediately convert to methane and nitrogen and evaporate.

          If not mesquite, the tree of life, then wild olives. Mind, they’re thorny but a great defensive food plant, as well. BTW, Dr. Cathy Voss (, specializing in livestock, and her husband have a ranch SE of Tucson, AZ. When the state was under a drought, a lot of ranchers sold off their cattle. Mesquite is equal to clover in feed value, and she and hubby trained their cattle to eat mesquite because there was no grass. They determined the fastest way is no more than 50 head at a time, with calves. By the time training ended, the cattle were back on pasture and headed right for the mesquite before hunting for hay or grass. Mesquite saved them from going under. Gabe Brown, up in Bismark, ND, has a small ranch, 5,000 acres, 16 inches of rain per year. When he started out, his soil was as bad as mine was. 1.5% organic matter. After he finally, out of desperation to pay off farm debts, went no-till, his soil developed up to 11%. He used a cocktail of up to 16 different plants and grazes. He’s taken the top in production in shell corn several times, without irrigation, over 400 bushels per acre, all using cover crops, grazing, and mulch. If he didn’t have cattle, he would have mowed the covers to get the same protection for the soil. As he says, he never buys nitrogen. Why bother when every inch of the earth has 10 miles of nitrogen over it 🙂 A ranch in Brazil, 36,000 acres, is doing the same and getting great results with covers as mulch in no-till. And, I better ht the road. Thanks for tolerating me 🙂 niio

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    • red January 6, 10:54

      Mix Kitty: Good morning and Happy New Year! there are early, mid-season, and late potatoes. In general terms (as I recall, we planted acres of them) the bigger the potato you see in the store, the longer it takes to mature. Minimum 100 days, but some new varieties can take 45 to produce new potatoes (those very expensive marbles in the store). some, like blue potatoes were bred for a high sugar content. I used to raise them in a 5 gallon bucket. those are est for candy. But, 6-8 hours direst sunshine, and maybe more where you live. The cutting should weigh about 2 ounces, or three, but no bigger. It’s weird, but the bigger the cut piece, the fewer potatoes. If you want full-sized, you have to wait till the foliage matures, yellowing. new potatoes can be taken any time after the first blossoms die. If you can, raise them on straw, put 6 inches in the bottom of a bucket or bag, then wet it and wait a week. Put in the the cutting and cover with a few inches of straw. It’s not going to harm the potato is the cutting turns green. The toxins prevent rot and will fade in the dark.1 cutting for every 5 gallons of space, then more straw. as it grows, add straw around it. If it’s yellowish but getting plenty of sun, add some nitrogen–a very, very little. If you have a fish tank, use the water as long as you’re not using an algecide, which will kill the plant. One word, when making cuttings, if the potato is black or gray inside, eat it or toss it. You don’t need to reenact the potato famine.

      I put in beets, carrots, and red radishes yesterday. A thrasher bird watched me, and started to call his mate to the feast. then I raked it all in, and put a heavy mulch over the bed–he flew off screaming and cussing at me 🙂 Niio

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    • Govtgirl April 24, 10:20

      Just re-reading this before planting first crop and picked up on your comment. Gee, Miss Kitty, if you struck out, how can I hope to succeed?

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  8. red January 1, 01:59

    A neighbor took a dozen 20 gallon tubs as part of a trade for some work. He sold them to me for a buck each. Now to find a good spot for them to stay all summer. We’ll fill them with homemade potting soil and plant sweet potatoes. Yeah, we’ll eat that many.

    For spuds, here, they’d have to be grown in the shade or the sun would cook the roots. Roots do not like a lot of heat. Sweet potatoes are tropical, but potatoes aren’t. While some varieties of potato can handle the heat (Burbank bakers and so on), potatoes originated in the high Andes where nights might be frosty.

    Nor will I try store-bought because of the disease problems caused by raising one crop in a single field for years. Buy off of a reputable dealer because once something is in the soil, it can last 20 years. niio

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  9. KentuckyMike January 1, 04:20

    How do you mound them when they are in containers like that? The potatoes grow from the stem. They will be green and inedible if you don’t cover the stem with earth as the plant grows. Some people call it “earthing up”, “hilling” or “mounding”. How do you do that in such a small container?

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    • jansnowy January 1, 13:54

      If you leave room to add soil in the container, you can “mound” them that way. but yes you do need to watch that the spuds don’t peek out. I would think that would go for the sides of the bag too if it is not dark.. They need to be surrounded by darkness . I like the idea of the black landscape fabric. for this reason.. or actual pots/tubs rather than a bag.

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    • red January 2, 08:18

      I had them (blue) growing in a bucket for years. Just add soil. Plants use a lot of soil, and organic matter decays, shrinking. Don’t worry, the soil settles. niio

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  10. Doodle January 5, 16:16

    I stopped growing potatoes a few years ago because of a back injury. I could no longer harvest (dig them up). But then I discovered bags that you can grow in. All I have to do is turn them over and harvest. This is the same idea. I agree that plastic is a problem but in a pinch or survival situation, you use what you got.

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  11. GG January 7, 17:03

    This is a great idea IF one wants to prevent starvation… but nutrients that are not in the soil or what ever food is grown in cannot be in the food. So even though this may provide food and keep one from staring, it is NOT going to provide the nutrition the body needs to keep it healthy. When the potato allowed the Irish to survive a famine…. the ground was not so depeleted of its minerals and vitamins as it is now… unless it is revived with compost material or etc., this is not a good thing to do other than preventing starvation. Potatoes grown in the same soil over and over, yearly causes cross thatching in the potato….. under the skin.

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  12. GG January 7, 17:17

    I know that anything grown has certain vitamins and minerals but I have also learned that the plant CANNOT provide a nutrition that is not in the ground to get to begin with. That is why there has been so much talk about balancing the soil out to be able to grow nutritional food. I Use to know a man that travel all over the world to other countries to teach them how to balance their soil to be able to grow more nutritional food…. So my wonderment with this is HOW is it possible ? Growing it is one thing. It having ALL the nutrition it needs to feed people properly is another. If all one is concerned about is starving…. it will fill the belly, but it will still leave one in need of proper nutrition.

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    • 72StillKickin January 7, 21:01

      Liking the comments!
      My college Health teacher taught the ‘Party Line’
      It is “quackery” to teach that vegetables won’t grow if they don’t have all their nutritional elements. They still grow.

      I could never buy that line!

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    • red January 8, 00:32

      You can find out what is lacking in your area from the USDA. I can’t recall the addy, sorry, but for most fields around the world, zinc is a major one. Carbon is huge. Carbon breaks down to methane, which feed fungus that help plants thrive, and nitrogen. My soil is Ph 8+ and high in potassium and good on phosphorous. Most soils lack all that. Because the soil is too sweet, there’s no acids to break down metals needed. While sulfur is good, there’s not enough to neutralize the caliche (natural baking soda). that’s 12 bucks for 20 lbs and it doesn’t go far. I can get zinc, but in 50 lbs bags, and that’s far more than needed. Copper sulfate with zinc is available, but we have too much copper in the soil and water 🙂 I mulch and add what I can afford. But, the zinc is needed to control viral infections in plants, as well as people. niio

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  13. 72StillKickin January 7, 21:33

    I am not an authority, but have often heard , our minerals are washing away from big Agree methods….lack of natural vegetable matter composted back into the soil, along with toxic chemicals that destroy the bacteria necessary to break down compost to good soil, and wind that carries away depleted soil….then there is acid rain from manufacturing processes and I suppose coal mining….
    The proper pH is essential for nutrients to be available to plants.
    So much is out of our hands, changed since Creation by the Master Scientist.

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  14. red January 8, 00:49

    I heard stories like that. Back during the Depression (FDR’s) a lot of poor lived on sauerkraut and potatoes, and lived well enough. Not the best. A diet like that can mean anemia, which the Anasazi Indians suffered for lack of red meat during the century-long drought they suffered. One major it did help was those along the Rio Grand began to trade heavily with the Plains peoples for dried buffalo and with the south, into Mexico for feathers and so on. By the end of the drought, most were in good shape.

    Modern people don’t know. this is why hidden gardens, using ‘ornamental’ varieties of food plants and so on are valuable. we all know what corn looks like, but teosinte looks like an ornamental grass, not a grain. Riecegrass is a drylands rice, a relative of wild rice that likes poor, sandy soil. Canna lilies are pretty, but the roots are valued by most peoples for the starch. and, it has fewer problems than potatoes. Leaves and shoots are good, as well. Most varieties of dalias were originally raised for the roots. Crab apples taste bad unless cooked. How many know those little apples are eatable? Very few. niio

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  15. GG January 8, 02:19

    I wish I had more of the knowledge you have on such things…. thank you for sharing.

    Reply to this comment
    • red January 8, 05:28

      I’m assuming you mean me. If not, I’m going to feel like an idjit 🙂 What state do you live in? City or rural? I’m in south-Central Arizona, about 40 miles NE of Tucson. If you know the desert and mountains, it’s not hard to make a living off the land. I lived in Penna, and the same there, if you know what is good and what will kill or make sick, same as here. Here, a lack of open water is a problem, Penna, too much water. Each area I’ve lived, over a dozen states and two nations, has good and bad.I pick a lot of prickly pear fruit, then had to tell people–Arizonans–how to process it. Chop, simmer, drain the juice. 1/2 cup juice per five cups tea or water or it tastes terrible. Peaople ask me how to process mesquite beans for flour. Easy way, use a blender to chop it fine. Use a grain mill and the sugars (25%) will gum it up. A hammer mil works best for large amounts. Read anything Clergylady has to say. She’s written an article for Preppers about how she survived hiding from a wife-beater for 6 months. Everything you need is, now, at your fingertips. If you want more on hidden gardens, I need to kow what state you’re in, and where you plan to bugout. niio

      I’m a little tired right now. We got ten turkeys in one month and boned out the breasts, then froze them. It’s getting ground, but screwed up the grinder, so back to the food processor.

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  16. Govtgirl April 14, 15:45

    I hope you believe in the “There are no stupid questions” rule:
    Do I have to buy the seed potatoes at the hardware store or can I use potatoes from Walmart?
    My husband likes those red and purple potatoes do I usually buy them instead of the 5 or 10 lb. bags of regular. We get great potatoes here in WA because we are next to Idaho, many choices and all beautiful. So, can I grow those little colored ones that cost $3.97 for a small bag?

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    • Ginny - in WA April 15, 09:47

      Yes, and no.
      Yes, they will most likely grow from store bought, and no, they may not be disease-free and therefore may introduce disease into your garden, so many people stress buying certified potatoes for this reason.
      ‘Seed’ potatoes are certified disease free, or should be, so it is worth buying seed potatoes to start. They are more costly per weight unit than eating spuds. And as with any garden plant rotate where you grow them each year so there is a minimum of 3 years between reusing a patch for the same crop to further cut down on disease loads in the soil.
      Hope that helps some.

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      • red April 16, 17:34

        Ginny: And, nothing planted there from the same family, peppers, tomatoes, tobacco, eggplant; no strawberries, they can catch many of the diseases and insect pests.
        Gov: Most to Texas and plant sweet potatoes 🙂

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    • red April 15, 19:03

      there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. Intelligent answer, follow Ginny’s advice. If you have room and you like a particular breed, then save the seeds and try that. I got my seed potatoes from the store, the finger potatoes. the red ones are up, but the white ones are not. You living in Washington state? You can grow a lot of sweet potatoes in those goofy upside down hanging planters. They like sun on the root zone and look ornamental. Very rich soil works be for best production, opposite regular potatoes. niio

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  17. red April 25, 04:13

    jan: You can start potatoes in large pots in the house. I do that because one day it’s spring, the next a heat wave. Yes, it is Arizona 🙂 Outside, they can be grown in straw, but hay would heat up, and too much nitrogen, anyway. Too much mold in the house with only straw. niio

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