Monday, February 20, 2017

Budget Balcony Garden - Potato Experiment

I have never successfully grown a potato large enough worth the bother. Never. Not that I've tried very often throughout my lifetime. Potatoes were inexpensive where I grew up and seemed to be plentiful. As an adult, I have tried growing potatoes a few times but I will be the first to admit that my neglect was certainly what caused a lack of success with potatoes. I have decided to try again to grow potatoes. This time, I am attempting to grow a few potatoes in a container on my balcony.

Why Grow My Own Potatoes?

I love to eat potatoes. Whether they are in the form of french fries, baked, mashed, or boiled I just really like potatoes.  Approximately a year ago, I ate a potato from the grocery.  It looked a little funny but I still cut, peeled, and boiled it. And promptly became very ill.  I miss eating potatoes but I still can't bring myself to buy many from the grocery store.  So I will once again try to grow my own.

I had my most luck with growing potatoes when I tried to grow some on in a mound/tower combination. Using a tire, I piled dirt on the plant as it grew.  The plant itself did well. Then it suffered from neglect nearer to the end of it's growing season and only ended up producing tiny little taters.

It is with this mound/tower method that I am trying again.

Starting Potatoes in a Container for My Balcony Garden

I have chosen a plastic tub for my container.  I chose this particular size only because it is tall and somewhat more narrow than many storage containers.  I do not want to take up much floor space with this potato garden.

Sterilite 10 gal storage tub

On January 30th, I drilled holes in the bottom of the container for drainage using my wonderfully handy DeWalt drill. The lid is a handy drainage "saucer" for the container.  Not allowing the water to drain out of the potato containers should keep my downstairs neighbors happy.

drain holes drilled with my DeWalt

Approximately two weeks later, I cut a potato in half that had grown eyes (while forgotten in the back of my cupboard) and planted the two pieces of potato in this container.  I followed some advice on the internet stating that the seed potatoes can be planted close to the bottom of the container as the potatoes and root system grow out more than they grow down. So I placed about 3-4" of soil in the bottom of the container, placed the two sections of potatoes on that dirt and covered them with soil.

I kept the container inside until today. I kept it just inside the balcony door, allowing it to receive some light.  I placed an unused oven rack on top to keep the cat from using it as a kitty pan. After the plants had grown a couple of inches above the soil line, I covered them in more soil.

Today, February 20th, the potatoes have grown sufficiently that I've added more soil. The weather is beautiful and unseasonably warm, so I've moved them out onto the balcony. I have not placed them in the corner of the balcony that receives the most direct sun yet. I am attempting to acclimate them to the balcony.

I will be adding more soil today, but I wanted to take a photo of the growth of the plants before hiding them from view.

potato plants after less than a month

Containers for Growing Potatoes

There are many varieties of potato growing containers to choose from.  I really like the "bag" type with the access flaps that enable you to pick potatoes without disturbing the plant. If circumstances were different, I would have chosen one of the bags. I did not opt for one of those systems due to 1) my pets, 2) my own clumsiness, and 3) downstairs neighbors.  For those reasons, I opted for a hard-sided container. I am hoping to avoid accidents and spills with the container I've chosen. However, you may prefer one of the many other potato growing containers that are offered.

Intro photo design created courtesy of  FotoJet

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you.  I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.


  1. I plan to garden in containers and flower pots this summer.

    1. good for you! I can't wait to see the photos and to read all about it. I'm not very good at it, but each season I have high hopes.

  2. I wish you great success with the potato experiment. We've had so many disappointing potato purchases from the grocery store, but I really hadn't thought about growing our own. Definitely something to consider!

    1. Thank you Susan. If you do grow your own, I hope you share how you do it...and if it is successful.

  3. Dawn Rae, love your expression 'tiny taters'... LOL. I'd love to try your potato experiment, but my tiny apartment deck is just a wide spot at the top of the stairs up to my 2nd floor apartment and is completely covered with a roof and large overhang. Thus, no sunlight gets through. Wish I could have a small container garden. :(. Good luck with your potatoes. I'll be follow along with your progress.

  4. What a wonderful idea to use a plastic storage container for planting and the lid as a water drain pan! Very creative and a lot less expensive than a large planter would cost. I wish you great success with your potato growing endeavor and I look forward to your updates.

  5. I tried growing potatoes in a container one year, and got much better potatoes than those I tried to grow in the grounds.