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How To Grow Great Potatoes

Potatoes are tasty and easy to grow. Bob is a gardener and a garden writer. His ebook, From My Garden, is widely available.


Potatoes, mashed, baked, boiled scalloped and perhaps my favourite, potato salad especially when it is made with new red potatoes, are a great food. What is even better you can grow your own potatoes and make your favourite dish with the freshest potatoes around.

You can grow potatoes on your patio or balcony in a container or in a community garden plot or your backyard.

Potatoes can be grown in old tries which I have done but do not recommend doing so for more than a season. There are materials in the tires that you do not want in your food and if you are planning to grow organically, using recycled tires is not considered to be an acceptable organic method.

However, if you want to give it a try, fill a tire with fresh soil, plant the potatoes as the potato plants begin to grow, add tires and soil, until they are stacked 3-4 tires high.

Planting Potatoes

Growing Potatoes

However, if you want to give it a try, fill a tire with fresh soil, plant the potatoes as the potato plants begin to grow, add tires and soil, until they are stacked 3-4 tires high.

I prefer to use straw, I find it less work and cleaner; less work because there is no digging involved.

First I lay down enough cardboard to cover the area that I am using to grow potatoes. Make sure the cardboard overlaps so that no weeds get through. Then water the cardboard through; Spread either compost or well-rotted (composted) manure over the cardboard; then add another layer of cardboard and wet thoroughly.

Now put the seed potatoes approximately half a metre apart and directly on top of the cardboard. The next step is to cover the potatoes with straw 3-4 inches, at least.

Spread some compost or composted manure over the straw; than add another layer of straw and then another layer of compost and then straw until the pile is 40cm deep. Be sure to thoroughly water.

As the straw thins and the plants grow taller add straw to keep the sunlight from getting at the potatoes.

Potatoes that are grown in straw are cleaner than those that are grown in dirt, I still recommend that you wash them before eating but this will be easier to do that pulling the spuds out of the dirt. Speaking of pulling the spuds out, harvesting potatoes that are grown in straw is much easier than harvesting those that are grown in the earth.

A straw potato garden may be one of the simplest ways to provide fresh, chemical free potatoes for your family. It is also an excellent way to use part of your backyard rather than growing that resource and time waster lawn that you cannot eat or even use as a garnish.

  • Growing Potatoes
    Gardeners are growing potatoes again because the choice & flavour beats any you can buy - especially when organic gardening. Helpful space saving methods to grow potatoes are also described here.

No Dig

  • How to grow potatoes without digging
    Growing potatoes without digging really is as great as it sounds! It's a lot less effort than the usual way, and you can use it as a method to clear ground of weeds. If your land is infected with potato eelworm you can use this method to grow a bette


Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 16, 2012:

Happy growing and thanks for stopping by.

toomuchmint on June 15, 2012:

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I tried potatoes last year with no success. Too much dry weather combined with too much rain to kill most of the plants. After reading your article, I think I'll give them another try. Thanks!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on March 04, 2012:

Happy growing and thanks for dropping by.

Sherry Duffy from Here. There. Everywhere. Currently: Portland, OR on March 04, 2012:

Great! I was thinking about planting some potatoes today. Bookmarked and voted up!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on November 07, 2011:

The half wine barrels are great, thanks for sharing,

annie b on November 07, 2011:

I'm on the coast, literally, in Northern CA. I plant my organic Yellow Finns in March and harvest in July or August. Mostly grow them in big half wine barrels I pick up for $25 a piece. I plant them in a nice mix of soil and homemade compost and give them diluted kelp meal every two or three weeks as they grow. Always get a beautiful crop and the tiny ones I miss when I harvest poke along through the winter and begin to grow in the spring, so they yield, too. Nice hub. Thanks Bob.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 29, 2011:

Let us know how it works for you, happy growing.

Julie McM from Southern California on June 29, 2011:

Thanks for a very helpful hub, Bob. We grow a lot of our own food, but have never had much success with potatoes. I'll be giving your straw method a try next season.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on April 27, 2011:

I do not think it is that high.

David on April 27, 2011:

Bob, your'e on here a lot. I noticed that every other comment is from you.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on November 13, 2010:

The potatoes were fine, no obvious trace of mould.

e* on November 13, 2010:

did the mould (in the hay) make the potatoes mouldy? I have mouldy haylage I wanted to use....

Douglas on July 10, 2010:

How long from planting to harvesting,approx

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 04, 2010:

Excellent, thanks for comenting.

Lisa S. on June 04, 2010:

We harvested a lot of wet, moldy hay last year, too much rain. I am growing potatoes in one of the round bales. I opened slots in the bale, dropped a tater in and covered it up with a shovel full of compost. So far, so good.

They are growing like crazy and I am piling hay up around the plants.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on May 22, 2010:

Glad it helped, the straw I have used was normal.

violet on May 22, 2010:

i would like to know what kind of straw normal or mixed... but this really helped me so Thanx

Debora on May 17, 2010:

fist time potato grower, started seed potatoes in soil and started covering with straw after they we about 6-8 inches tall, I have a soaker system under the straw doing the watering, 1 plant though is showing signs of leafcurling and some browning, any advice?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on March 22, 2010:

First step is to test the soil.

Cheryl on March 22, 2010:

I come from Minnesota and now I am in Texas along the coast. I can almost spit in the ocean from here. I don't know if potatoes grow here because it is so hot outside. I think they might grow during the winter or what the calander says is winter. Usually no real winter here. Do you have any suggestions....Is the soil to salty here?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on March 11, 2010:

Thanks for your kind words, and happy gardening.

Complaicency from Wales, UK on March 11, 2010:

Fantastic Hub bob. seriously you are an outstanding hubber. ive looked over a few and they are so well written and extremely informative. It's a great shame i havnt found you earlier. Great work

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on August 05, 2009:

For the best information I would check with a local supplier of seed potatoes.

daphne on August 05, 2009:

I am in northern California. When is a good time to plant?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on August 02, 2009:

a local plant nursery should be able to help.

Jo Sharpe on August 02, 2009:

Hi Bob, where can I find seed potatoes in South Florida

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 28, 2009:

Jim, it is possible they will grow; I have trird this with some success.

Jim Ruttledge on June 28, 2009:

Thanks Bob.---but I was wondering if the seed potatoes really need to be certified seed potatoes. I bought some small organic butter potatoes from Trader Joes, and they started developing eyes after they were stored in a drawer for a few days. Can I plant these and expect a crop, even though they were not purchased as seed potatoes and are not certified?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on April 09, 2009:

You are welcome, I am creating my own victory garden this summer. Thanks for dropping by.

Judy Cullins from La Mesa, CA on April 09, 2009:

=Bob, This is the one I've been waiting for. WE are going great with a "victory" garden, and I tool love potatoes! Thanks for the great info.

Judy Cullins,

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 14, 2009:

I doknow about Mel Bartholmew and sq ft gardening,seems like a good idea. thanks for stopping by.

blackjava from Canada on February 14, 2009:

Great Hubs. I am looking forward to the new season. I am in a community garden and am always looking for new ways to garden.

Have you heard of square foot gardening. I am going to try it this year.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 14, 2009:

Good advice, re:manure and thanks for stopping by.

briston on February 14, 2009:

Great stuff Bob! I did this last year w/ chicken wire and plan to do the same again this year. This time i'll reinforce my stacks w/ some crossbeams as dafla suggests though! Great option for a city lot or concrete prairie urban dweller.

Make sure you let that manure fully compost before adding - manure that isn't fully "through its process" has been related to black spots on your spuds.

Take 'er easy Bob and keep the good tips coming.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on September 04, 2008:

Here it is harvest season, too cool for me to grow sweet opotaoes but I do enjoy eating them.

dafla on September 04, 2008:

Great info! I actually want to grow sweet potatoes without soil, but someone says they won't get sweet if you do. I've grown potatoes in hay before. I built a ring 3' across from chicken wire and rebar (to hold it steady and keep it from falling over) and put the potatoes on about 6" of soil, then kept adding hay. All I had to do to harvest was take the chicken wire off, and they just fell onto the ground. It's best to wash them well, though, because mold can grow in the hay.

I might try the Rubbermaid container method this year. I need to do container veggies, because I'm only doing a small 10' square plot for my veggies. BTW, in SW Florida, this is our planting season.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on July 17, 2008:

Donna, the squares sound like a good idea, where do you live, I ask because the length of the growing season matters,

Donna Campbell Smith from Central North Carolina on July 17, 2008:

Bob, can you gorw them for fall harvest by planting in summer? Or do they not like the heat and humidity. I thought about making squares that I can stack like the tires, only from scrap wood? 2x6's?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on July 10, 2008:

koncling from Nice Winding Room on July 10, 2008:

ooooooow.. I love potatoes..

do you have some potatoes recipes ?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on July 07, 2008:

Thanks for stopping by, potatoes can be prepared in many ways.

02SmithA from Ohio on July 07, 2008:

Thanks for all the info! Potatoes are probably the food that can be made to taste great the most ways of any food.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on July 04, 2008:

yes, I have.

eastcoastireland from Dublin, Ireland on July 04, 2008:

qwoe, that sounds pretty easy. have you tried this?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on July 03, 2008:

you are welcome.

smartnash.avi from india on July 03, 2008:

thanks for ur useful information bob

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 26, 2008:

You are welcome and yes the more we can grow in our communities the more food secure we become.

C.J. King from Southeast on June 26, 2008:

We need to be growing everything or else we will eventually starve with the price of food and gas prices combined.



Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on May 14, 2008:

You can put them in the ground, some are likely to grow, I have tried it with limited to success, go for it.

Dorsi Diaz from The San Francisco Bay Area on May 14, 2008:

I didn't know that you could grow potatoes in straw Bob. One of the memorable sights I have as a kid is seeing all those potato storehouses in Idaho on the way to Canada on our yearly trips.I love potatoes- any way you cook um.Question? My son gave me some potatoes to grow- they were sprouting roots in the bag- can I just put those right into the ground? He cracked me up when he gave them to me to grow- he knows I love to garden!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on May 05, 2008:

straight from the garden is still the best.

Joanie Ruppel from Texas on May 04, 2008:

It's been a few years since I grew potatoes (we have a pretty heavy clay to deal with) but I always thought there was nothing like the new potatoes fresh from the garden. Dig em up and take them straight into the house.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on April 23, 2008:

now is a good time as frost is unlikely. :-)

Peter M. Lopez from Sweetwater, TX on April 23, 2008:

Any idea for Texas?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on April 23, 2008:

It depends upon where you live Peter.

Peter M. Lopez from Sweetwater, TX on April 23, 2008:

Excellent hub, my wife's family were potato farmers, but on a much larger scale, I'm going to have to tell her about growing them in straw. That's a new one for me. I want to give it a try now. What is the appropriate potato growing season?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on April 22, 2008:

The barrels are a good idea.

Knowledge Sponge from Oceanside, California on April 22, 2008:

This is a wonderful hub. Thank you. I do have an alternate suggestion to growing the potatoes that would be green. I know how some people argue that the method with the tires makes it eaiser to harvest them, due to the fact that all you have to do is knock down the tires and dig through the soil inside them. There is another way though... Many winerys are throwing away or selling old barrels for a low price, the majority of which are about 50 gallons or more. My great aunt used to grow her potatoes in one of these barrels and it worked wonders. It also made harvesting them really easy, too. Using this method, you can make sure you don't miss any when you harvest. Happy planting.

Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on March 23, 2008:

Great hub bob, I have often grown mine in tires, and never even gave that a thought. I did try the hay once but the yard was so open and we had strong winds therefore I gave up as hay ended up all over the yard. So didnt try again.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on March 23, 2008:

You are welcome John, good luck with the potatoes

John on March 23, 2008:

Thanks Bob, for another helpful hub. I will be back for more later. My wife is now looking for locations in the back for the new potatoe plants.

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