This is an easy no dig way of growing potatoes. The cost is low, the plants don’t need much care and, if the bag isn’t too big, you simply up-end it to harvest. What could be easier?
These are general instructions and you can adjust them to suit your needs.
Step 1 – Prepare the potatoes
It is recommended that you buy seed potatoes. Table potatoes or the potatoes you grew last year could carry disease. If the potatoes are large cut them into 5cm (2 in) pieces with several eyes on each. Place the pieces in a dry, light place, out of direct sunlight, and chit the potatoes, i.e. wait for them to grow shoots.
Step 2 – Choose your Bag(s)
Plastic or cloth bags are probably the most suitable because paper, unless it has a plastic lining, will tear when wet or stressed. The size doesn’t matter too much but remember that small bags will dry out quickly and the plants need some space to produce their potatoes. Garden shops have growing bags especially for the job.
Step 3 – Planting
You’ll need a bag of fertilized potting mix. Look for organic fertilizer or add your own to unfertilized potting mix. Add about 15cm (6 in) to the bottom of the bag and place your potatoes on it. The number of potatoes depends on the size of the bag. Some gardeners advise planting only two or three seed potatoes in the commercial potato bags but others recommend five or six. Use your own judgement, ensuring that there is growing space for the number you use. Cover the potatoes with about 5cm (2 in) of potting mix. Do not water unless the mix seems dry as very wet growing medium may rot the potatoes. Roll the sides of the bag down so that sun can reach the soil.
Step 4 – Caring for the crop
Most of the work is now done. When the new green tops come through and are about 10cm (4 in) high add more potting mix to reach up to but not cover the leaves. Continue adding mix as needed and unroll the bag until the soil reaches about 5cm (2 in) from the top of the bag. Then let the plants continue to grow without adding any more soil. Water as required.
Note: You may like to add a sprinkle Neem in the form of granules or powder with each application of potting mix, or spray the potato tops with Neem oil. This will help to keep your crop free of damaging insects, especially psyllids, which are a crop spoiler.
Growing potatoes in bags is an easy form of no dig gardening and it’s a fun project for children.