How to: Grow Delicious Potatoes in Containers

Potatoes are absolutely one of the easiest things to grow and you can plant them in just about anything.  

For years we grew them in a series of old garbage cans that we had drilled holes in and even in a big flower pot in our old kitchen.

Then we moved on to growing a clawfoot bathtub full of potatoes which I somehow don’t have a photo of.  Hey look what I found! Photos from last year of me tending to the potatoes with a baby on my back!

This year its full of beans and greens.

This year I’m reusing some grow bags that were given to us and I have them growing in a completely neglected space.  It’s the retaining wall of our front yard and neighbours parking space.  There are some hanging and some just tucked behind my bicycle.

So to plant potatoes first you’ll need some seed potatoes.  You can either buy these specially or use ones from th
e grocery store that have grown eyes.  Its best to go organic as some grocery store potatoes have been treated so they wont grow eyes, but really most will work especially if you gently wash them. Be careful not to scrub off those eyes, that’s where the shoots are going to grow. 

This year we’re planting a combination of organic heirloom seed potatoes including Russian Blues and Purples as well as Rose Finn Apple fingerlings and a bag of organic red potatoes that sprouted on us by accident.

You can either plant the whole potato or cut them up.  It’s a matter of personal preference.  I cut mine in half, making sure there is at least one eye per piece and then leave them in a dark spot for the cut to heal over night. 

The next day, you can start planting.  I like about 4 inches of soil under them and about 4 inches of soli above them.  You do not need to be tidy.  Throw them in willy nilly.

Potatoes need about 6 hours of sun a day. I have normally tucked them away somewhere sort of cool and find they fill a less than perfect corner of the garden. These ones are in a planter in front of the composter.

As they grow, you will add more soil, maybe every two weeks I add a shovel full or so.

After anywhere from 2-4 months the leaves will turn brown and die.  That’s how you know its time to harvest! Use your hands if possible as a trowel can really wreck the tender new potatoes. I have just dumped the entire pot over on the patio in the past.  Quick and dirty.

Planting, growing and harvesting potatoes are all excellent activities for kids.  You really can’t mess it up and digging for them at the end of the season is like a little treasury hunt. Also I haven’t met a kid that wont eat a potato so its an excellent activity to show where our food comes from.

Now a little give away.  Use the comments to tell us your favourite food to grow in a container for a chance to win a copy of Lara Lucretia Mrosovsky’s An Illustrated Guide to Growing Food on your Balcony along with three packs of carrot, dill and leek seeds from Cubit’s.  This combo perfectly demonstrates companion planting with potatoes in that if they taste good together, they probably grow well together (ie potato leek pizza).

step by step recap
  1. Find a large container with good drainage.
  2. Prepare your seed potatoes.
  3. Plant your potatoes in well draining soil.
  4. Ongoing water and basic care.
  5. Add more soil.
  6. Harvest!
  7. Eat!
So, what’s your favourite food to grow in a container? Let us know in the comments along with your email or twitter handle so we can contact you.

Winner will be chosen by random on June 30th, 2011.


  1. Arlene says

    Thanks so much for the great photos and description of growing. I'm going to pass this along to our clients! My favorite thing to grow in containers? Anything I can't fit in our raised beds – peppers, eggplant, potatoes, herbs, tomatillo, malabar spinach….the list goes on. Hope I'm the lucky winner, I'd love to read that book! Arlene

  2. MEG says

    Living in chilly Montana I like to grow my frost sensitive veggies in containers. Right now I have eggplant, squash, and basil in containers in a wagon. I wheel them insode in the evenings.

  3. Ashley says

    I do in fact grow things to eat on my tiny little balcony. Just herbs and tomatoes last year, but this year, thanks to your seeds, I am trying lemon cucumber, arugula and spinach; along with tomatoes, herb and volunteer sunflowers!

  4. Meeling says

    Great photos and wonderful steps! We have one raised bed in our backyard…too small for much else but love what we get from that. My favorite though has to be all my herbs. We have a huge rosemary pot, thyme etc…I love when I'm cooking and I can just grab my herb scissors and go out back and get what I need to 'spice" up my dish. :-)

  5. Rosemeri says

    I plant a lot of herbs in containers on my porch. That way I can snip them as I need them. I planted potatoes this year in raised beds but the flea beetles really damaged the leaves. I am getting some small "new" potatoes as I remove the plants but the harvest is rather small. I am thinking about trying to plant them in containers next to see if that will help. Any ideas on controlling flea beetles organically?

  6. sweetkm says

    Such great ideas. My favorite thing to put in a planter is rosemary so I can bring it inside in the winter. Very boring, I know.

  7. Anonymous says

    Love the tub. What a great idea. I like to plant basil, thyme and rosemary in pots next to the pack screen porch. Then I don't have to walk all the way out to the garden to snip for a snack.
    Thanks for the potato tips!

  8. Ginger says

    I do potatoes in burlap bags I get from a coffee roastery. They make great grow bags – air and water can get in and out, you can roll up the sides as you add more soil, and they are free!

  9. Anonymous says

    Herbs..! I just Love the tub idea, such a recycle and healthy idea.. Can't wait to try it next year, Thank you, Laurie on a Mountain in Wellsville, New York! And Thank you for the wonderful site….

  10. Hannah Rubenstahl says

    I LOVE the tub idea! If I ever run across one I'm going to snag it!

    When is the best time to plant these little ones? Late winter/early spring? Fall? Being Zone 5 with hot weather flirting with us I'm assuming its too late for me this year.

  11. Soozle says

    Thanks for such a great article – it was really helpful and inspiring!

    I'm going with tomatoes all the way ! :-)
    sbabij2 at shaw dot ca

  12. Healing Hues Art - Positive Paintings for Healing, Rejuvenation and Joy! says

    Love the site Laura! Favourite plants eh? Well it's a tie between lettuce and peas. For the last two years that I have been trying to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables those two vegies have grown well and given a few feedings despite being restrained by being in containers. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  13. Brittany says

    Great pictures!! I wish I had thought of growing potatoes in containers this year! I ran out of room for them in my garden. Thanks for the idea! =)

    I would have to say my favorite thing to grow in containers is basil. I like having it right by my door, plus it keeps flies away! =)

    My email is:

  14. kohlrabiandquince says

    I grow everything in containers as my soil is clay. I think one of my favourites to grow is squash. I love how quickly they grow, and I love watching them climb their trellises.

    My twitter: @kellycrochets

  15. Jeremy says

    lovely way to grow potatoes… Would love to try it in Taiwan… Hope to see success of it~
    Thanks for sharing

  16. Anonymous says

    Chives. Those suckers will take over fast in the ground! Plus, I have garlic chives that bloom beautiful purple flowers when they go to seed and then the pot looks very ornamental.

    I'm trying tomatos in a pot for the first time this year.

    Kim H

  17. Vintage Precious says

    I forgot to include my twitter id @VintagePrecious My fav would be anything I can grow, LOL!

  18. Glosprit says

    Tomatoes are my all time favorite thing to grow in my on my small deck. I mix in herbs & colorful annuals, which makes a stunning display. Next year there will definitely be a large pot of potatoes among my containers. Thanks for the information.

  19. Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen) says

    I like growing lettuces in containers because when the weather heats up I can move them to shadier spots and avoid the sun-induced bitter taste for a few more weeks.

    Did you drill additional drainage holes in the bathtub?


  20. RRebelGrrl says

    This year was my first to grow a balcony garden. I bought seeds from Cubits and now my 4' by 6' second floor plot is over run with carrots and rainbow swiss chard. Im really excited and am planing to do more next year. I already have a barn sale special on the way.

    Thanks Cubits!

  21. C says

    This is my first year of 'urban gardening', but the tomatoes I've planted have been a huge success! I'm also really excited to see my rainbow carrots sprouting their little tops, and from what I've heard they'll survive well into the winter (and even get sweeter with the frost), so I'm looking forward to some staggered harvests :)

    cath DOT fullarton [at] gmail DOT com

  22. José says


    I bet that they taste good and don't get dark.
    And they don't taste like mold like some do because of being storage for so long.


  23. Anonymous says

    This year I am very excited about growing jerusalem artichokes in large pots. I have never eaten a jerusalem artichoke (yet) but everything I read compares them to potatoes (my favourite food!) instead of artichokes. They are actually a species of sunflower, so as a bonus to being a crop, they also have very pretty yellow flowers. My friend who gave me a few tubers told me that jerusalem artichokes are very invasive and since we live in a unique environment (tip of the sonoran dessert, Okanagan valley) he made me promise to plant them in pots. The pots are from trees we had purchased at a garden centre so they are quite large and I've placed them in front of an area of chain link that needs beautifying. I figure if the edible tuber doesn't end up prospering, hopefully I'll get some nice flowers out of the endeavor!

    nadiasokal at

  24. beauty obscure says

    Mint – because it grows so well without me having to do anything – and it keeps it from taking over!
    Megan beautyobscure at gmail dot com

  25. PurpleLarkspur says

    I love to grow tomatoes in containers. It makes it easy to stake them, and I can move them around to make sure they get enough sun!

    larkspurpurple (at)

  26. jeannie says

    I love the tub idea, when my children were little we use to grow potatoes in old laundry baskets. It's a great way to make compost too. A adore growing in containers, I love mixing veggie,herbs and flowers. My favorite "strange" mix is Brussell sprout in the center with red nasturtiums, calendula and purple basil. Looks awesome in an old clay pot. I also love adding Bright Lights Chard in my containers with purple basil and yellow pear cherry tomato's.

  27. katherine. says

    I am about to move into an apartment, and I will definitely be beginning to try and grow things from my tiny balcony. So far, the only thing I've grown on my own is herbs, but my kitties have killed them all. This new place of mine, the cats can't go on the porch, so if something doesn't grow, it'll be totally my fault. :)

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    katherine.loiry (at) gmail (dot) com

  28. lisa says

    This book looks awesome; thanks for the chance! Would love to grown some sweet potatoes, chard, and other such things in a container / raised bed

  29. sandyandcosmo says

    I like to grow herbs in containers, they are so much more flavorful than dried herbs. Thanks for the giveaway

  30. c says

    I grow herbs, but would love to branch out and grow other things in containers. Carmensebert (at) gmail (dot) com

  31. bcbeaveratheart says

    I live in the northern part of B.C Canada, so my growing season is very very short, and so I have to use container gardening and raised be gardening. My fav thing to grow in the containers, are my tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and huge zucchini's!

  32. Jillian says

    I love growing tomatoes in pots! It eliminates so many of those pesky problems of growing them in the ground and I can move them around to take advantage of the sun.

    twitter: jbban

  33. Anonymous says

    I like to grow herbs in containers. Basil is my favorite, placed on our front steps – looks pretty and convenient!

    linda_eliya at hotmail dot com

  34. PharmaMom says

    I love to grow cherry tomatoes in containers – the frequent rain yields a big bushy plant on my deck providing depth to the "view" and the tiny sweet red tomatoes are the icing on the cake!

  35. Stoney Creek Mercantile says

    I love to grow Rosemary in a container that way I can bring it inside in the winter! It's lovely to have in the winter & lovely to cook with!!

  36. Athena says

    I have never grown anything but some herbs. I would love to grow some peppers and tomatoes.

    cereza25 at yahoo dot com

  37. judith petrou says

    I have grown potatoes in car tires! place tire no 1 on the ground,put tire no 2 on top of no 1, fill with good quality soil,lay potatoes evenly spaced in the circle of earth created by the tires. Now cover potatoes with soil, water lightly and wait for plants to be 1 inch above the soil, add another 2 tires, refill with soil,and continue to do so till the pile of tires is as tall as you want it. Now allow plants to grow as they would have if planted direct into the garden.You have created a very long root system which will bear many, many potatoes. When the plants have died down just knock the tire tower over and hey presto wonderful potatoes. to harvest with minimum trouble and labor. Tires can be painted to look good and store in a tower stack again so not too much space required. In Africa where I come from the potato flowers are picked off all through the growing process as it is felt that this makes the plant produce more potato’s underground as it is loosing its seed source.

  38. SueH says

    I am growing potatoes for the first time and am just about to start piling on more soil as they have started sprouting through….how exciting!! I am using old tyres acquired from a friend whose father bought a lifestyle block and found that the previous owners had been very naughty and dug a hole and buried them! As the potatoes grow, so will the tyre tower…and the black rubber will provide a lovely warm place for them to grow. So, we are going to have more lovely organic homegrown food on our table in a few months, plus it feels good to have saved the tyres from leaching into the ground.


  1. […] Last year’s potato post was the most popular post ever but this article has clearer instructions than the ones I’ve published before. Planting is still a few weeks off here, but I’ve just placed a giant order with Eagle Creek Farms that we’ll plant here in the city in the garden bathtub and up at the farm this summer as well.  This year we’ll be growing a variety of different coloured and shaped potatoes as well as early, mid and late season varieties and I hope you’ll join me in growing spuds this spring. […]

Leave a Reply

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