Short on space but wanting to grow your own vegetables? When you learn how to grow barrel potatoes, space would not be an issue you have to deal with. Of course, that's just one of the many benefits in container gardening which most individual growers are into these days.
Growing barrel potatoes would be ideal in situation stated above as well as when you live in area with soil that is not suitable for growing potatoes. Aside from this, you also get to maximize your yields since you'll be growing potatoes in a controlled environment. Also, harvesting would be much easier with barrel potatoes and there would not be any risk of damaging the potatoes in the process of shoveling.
Detailed below are the practical steps on growing barrel potatoes:
Prepare the container
First, you need to select the barrel you are going to use. A wooden barrel like the whiskey barrels would be ideal for this purpose. However, you can use just about any barrel as long as its something you can drill holes at the bottom and the sides to allow for good flow of water. Of course the bigger the barrel, the more potatoes you'll be able to grow.
Choose the Seed Potatoes
You can buy seed potatoes from your local nurseries. I strongly advise against using potatoes available in the market as seed potatoes as its been treated with anti sprouting chemicals. Thus, you will not be able to expect much yield using those as seed potatoes.
Additionally, I would also advise that you sprout the potatoes first in an egg carton and placing it in a cool light room out of direct exposure from the sun. After it has sprouted then you'll be ready to plant them in the barrel.
First, you need to fill the barrel with about 6 inches of soil and compost. Then you can plant the seed potatoes or the sprout potatoes in it. Cover it with soil and have it watered to keep the soil moist and damp. It is best to start plant potatoes during the cooler seasons.
Next, once you see the potatoes sprout to about at least 6 inches tall, you can add another layer of 6 inches soil and compost. Once again, you can plant another layer of potatoes sprout. You just need to repeat the process, keeping the soil damp all the while, until the barrel is full.
Another thing, if you want to grow vegetables organically, planting bush beans alongside the potatoes may be a good idea. It will protect potatoes against Colorado potato beetle and in turn, potatoes protect the beans from Mexican bean beetle.
Once the plant turns yellow and dies, it would mean that the potato is ready for harvesting. As I've mentioned earlier, harvesting barrel potatoes are much easier as you only have to tip over the barrel and sifting through the soil for your own barrel grown potatoes.