A Comprehensive Guide About How to Grow Potatoes in A Bucket
Potatoes are easy to grow in buckets and containers and therefore growers can obtain good production in the space limited and poor soil conditions. Usually, the growth period of potatoes consists of 10-20 weeks only and thus can be easily grown in the buckets throughout the year. However, it is important to note that potatoes grow in the downward direction so the selection of the right bucket, and grow media is essentially important to get good quality products. Therefore, this article is mainly intended to discuss important steps and points for growing potatoes in a bucket.
Step by Step Guide To Grow Potatoes in a Bucket
- Select the good quality and disease-free potatoes and cut them into small pieces but it is important to note that each piece should have one eye for further development.
- It is important to select recommended potato varieties by the agriculture department or agriculture extension workers as they have a proper understanding of the local climatic conditions and can suggest the best possible choices for quality production.
- Potato eyes are smaller pits or indents in the skin and are required for further growth.
- Use potatoes that have many eyes so that these can support further growth and development.
- Scrub or wash each potato to remove dirt from any contamination. However, gentle scrubbing is important to minimize the chances of harming the eyes on potatoes. This scrubbing and washing are also important to remove the residues of pesticides and synthetic chemicals.
- Carefully cut the potatoes into two halves so that proper germination can be ensured.
- These potato tubers should be placed in dry and cool places for 3-4 weeks for the development of growing shoots. This is known as chitting process and is significantly helpful to improve the quality and quantity of the final product.
- Other than the above-mentioned point growers can add four toothpicks to the skin of the potato. These toothpicks must be carefully placed between the cut ends and top ends and must be placed in different directions like that of the compass. This potato piece along with toothpicks should be placed in a glass containing water. The cut edges of the potato must be properly submerged in the water to ensure proper sprouting. This glass must be placed in a sunny location for at least 5-6 hours a day. Spindle-shaped, off-white colored, and log roots can be observed after a week of submerging potato in water and it can be used for growth in growing media.
- Only 2 growing shoots should be allowed on the potato parts and the rest of the shoots should be rubbed or removed.
- The remaining two shoots after cutting should be allowed to grow for one more week.
- Good quality grows mid/grow media should be added in the buckets. The selection of growing media plays a direct role in the overall growth and development of potatoes in the bucket. Different types of growing media are also available in the market and growers can easily select any grow mix as per requirements and personal preferences.
- Grow media or grow mix can also be prepared at the home by the addition of compost, rough gravel, expanded clay, and commercially available grow mix. However, it is important to note that all components of grow mix should be free from contaminants to avoid quality losses. Primary rock powder, peat, and sand can also be added for optimizing the physical, chemical, and biological properties of growing media.
- The use of loamy soil with a pH range of about 6-6.5 is an ideal choice for growing potatoes in buckets.
- The use of acid sulfur and mineral sulfur is a good choice to feed the potatoes but they can cause a significant reduction in the pH of growing media. So growers should make sure that the pH of grow media is maintained at more than 5.5.
- Growers must add recommended doses of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients for optimal growth and development.
- Small holes should be made in the bucket to add potato parts.
- Both the inner and outer portions of the bucket should be properly washed to remove any dirt and contaminants.
- Add a layer of gravels and stones and the bucket should be half-filled with good quality and contaminant-free compost.
- Gently add the potatoes to the compost layer with the shoots pointing in the upward direction.
- Never place any potatoes near the edges of the bucket or container as it will not allow their proper growth in all dimensions.
- Other than compost addition mulching is also an important practice to protect the topsoil layer in the bucket against erosion. Moreover, the addition of organic mulches helps to improve the fertility level of growing media by the addition of nutrients due to the decomposition process.
- Properly space the tubers in the buckets to ensure good growing space.
- Add some soil for properly covering the potatoes.
- Water the potatoes every 2-3 days in the bucket but make sure that bucket has smaller holes for good drainage.
- Shoots of potatoes will grow out of the growing media within few days.
- Add more soil after the emergence of shoots so that growing roots are properly covered with the soil.
- It is important to add both soil and compost for properly covering the roots and provision of anchorage and support to the growing plants.
- Potato buckets should be irrigated properly, and growers must keep a good eye to check the water stress to avoid stress.
- Selection of the right growing place is the best way to increase the chances of good production. Generally, potatoes grow well in bright and warm places and therefore growers should carefully select the location.
- Potatoes are sensitive to frost so growing potatoes must not be exposed to extreme cold conditions. Direct placement of buckets in cold environments should be avoided. However, indoor conditions can always be regulated and optimized for better production.
- The bucket must be placed at sunny and aerated places in growing conditions. But direct and too much exposure to the sunlight can cause negative effects on the growing potatoes.
- More compost or soils should be added if there is any appearance of potatoes on the surface layer of growing buckets.
- Direct exposure of potatoes to sunlight makes potatoes green and turning potatoes to green color should be avoided as these are poisonous potatoes and are not good for health.
- Usually, the determination of the harvesting time of potatoes is difficult as potato development takes place in underground conditions. However, growers can get an idea about the size of potatoes by plunging the hand in and around the growing roots.
- First tubers can be easily harvested soon after the flowering initiation.
- Growers can harvest potatoes once they have reached the size of a hen’s egg, but they can also allow more development and size enhancement.
- The complete plant should be removed from the container soon after the start of the drying process as there will be no more development of potatoes in the bucket. Keeping potatoes for too long in the bucket can cause rotting and quality losses.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Potatoes?
The time for growing development and maturity of potatoes is greatly dependent on the specific variety, care, management, and environmental conditions. Usually, the early growing varieties take 70-80 days to grow and produce firm, fast development, and standard shape in this period. While mid-season varieties take 100 days and late-season varieties take about 120 or more days for final growth and development.
How Many Can You Plant In 5-Gallon Bucket?
Using a 5-gallon bucket is an ideal choice to grow potatoes as it provides enough growing space for ideal production. 5-gallon buckets are easily available in the market, but growers should be focused to use buckets made up of food-grade plastic to avoid any problems. Drilling at least 10 holes in the bottom of the bucket is greatly recommended for effective drainage as excessive water retention in the root zone and growing media can cause rotting and disease development. Other than holes, the addition of rocks is also a good choice to improve drainage in the 5-gallon bucket.
The use of good quality buckets is essentially important as growers can grow potatoes or other vegetables for many years. Moreover, the use of a 5-gallon bucket offers great ease for harvesting. If growers are not able to buy new 5-gallon buckets for potato growing they can also use recycled buckets. Growers can easily grow 1-3 potato plants in each 5-gallon bucket. This will help to produce enough potatoes for regular consumption and growers can harvest potatoes from buckets whenever they want to.
It is important to add loose and good drainage capacity soil in the 5-gallon bucket. Growers should also add a good mix of organic matter, compost, ash, and properly treated kitchen waste and farmyard manure. Usually, the potato tubers can sprout within few days but if sprouting is not evident, the buckets must be placed in the well-aerated and sunny spots.
Potatoes grow well by using hilling techniques where stems are gradually and specifically buried in the heap of soil or grow media. The buried potato stems develop more roots with the higher growth of hills. Growers can get a maximum harvest by hilling the heaps of soil or growing media around the growing potatoes.
Many green-colored shoots will emerge from the growing potatoes in the buckets. Once these shoots start turning yellow potatoes will be ready to harvest. However, if growers want to harvest potatoes before the yellowing of leaves, they can harvest as per their preferences. Ideally, growers can produce 10-16 pounds of potatoes from each 5-gallon bucket. However, the growing media should be removed from the bucket after harvesting and must be disposed of properly.
Can You Grow Potatoes In Bucket All Year Round?
Potatoes can be easily grown throughout the year in buckets, containers, and indoor growing conditions. Using deep containers, and buckets is an ideal choice to grow potatoes throughout the year. Indoor planting of potatoes is a simple process, but the right care and management can help to get maximum yield and healthy potatoes. Although, potatoes do not require regular watering but keeping the soil or growing media moist is an ideal way to maintain the optimal moisture for best growth. Watering stress must be avoided in indoor conditions because there is no natural sunlight, aeration, and precipitation and therefore good balance must be maintained. Overwatering can cause root rotting and disease development and underwatering can cause direct killing of potatoes. Therefore, round year production of potatoes requires more care, skills, and management.
A general rule for feeding or fertilizing the potato plants is to check the soil health and soil quality every 2-4 days. Watering should be immediately stopped once the plants start turning yellow or dying. Organic fertilizers and compost must also be added to the growing media to improve soil fertility and productivity levels. However, inorganic fertilizers must be applied after proper dilution to avoid the direct effects of concentrated fertilizers and synthetic chemicals.
Growers should use good quality and efficient LED lights, watering management, aerating, ventilation, and temperature regulation systems for the provision of optimal growing conditions in the indoor production systems. It is important to note that potatoes only need 5 hours of lighting in a day so growers must optimize the lighting conditions and light periods for better growth, development, and production.
Usually, the indoor growing potatoes are not affected by diseases and pests but there are significantly greater chances of aphid attacks. Aphids specifically suck the sap of growing potato plants. The attack of bugs and aphids on potato plants can cause discoloration. The populations of aphids and bugs can be eradicated by spraying the soap water, and organic and inorganic pesticides.
Although potatoes are not prone to disease attacks in indoor growing conditions, but rotting is the most evident concern for year-round production. The rotting problem is greatly stimulated by the wet foliage and more humidity in the surroundings and therefore humidity and irrigation levels should be carefully monitored.
The harvesting process is the same for both indoor and outdoor growing conditions. The general principle of harvesting potatoes is the same, and growers should wait for yellowing and the death of plant shoots. Mature or fully developed potatoes must be pulled out gently by using hands or gardening tools. It is important to pull out the whole plant from the bucket or container and new grow media should be prepared for the next plantation. Moreover, the cuts and bruises should be avoided on the potato skins as they have tender structure and skin and can be easily torn.
After harvesting potatoes must be allowed to stay in sunlight for at least 1-2 days. However, if outdoor conditions are damp or cold the harvested potatoes must be placed under the artificial light or grow lights for proper drying. While it is important to consider that there should not be any contact between grow lights and potatoes as it can cause their skin burning and quality losses. Furthermore, it will also pull out the moisture from potatoes and thus nutritional quality will also be negatively affected. After drying, potatoes must be stored in the cold, dark, and dry spaces for quality maintenance.