Potatoe grow bags

p_mac(7)February 24, 2013

I bought 2 reasonably priced ones from territorial seed, but of course, that's not enough. ha!

Since there's not enough time to order more, I started searching out other alternatives and my hubby suggested construction waste bags. (Name on box - "Demo Bags") We went today to one of the box stores and bought a bundle of 10 for about $20. They're a heavy duty bag with a plastic like coating. Shaped like a pillow-case but that can be folded at the bottom to stand up and it still be 4' tall. Maybe after punching a couple of holes for drainage...I think these might work.

Any one grown potatoes in bags and if so, do you think my improvised, "red-neck" bags might work? Should I put some kind of wire under them since the reason I'm using bags is avoid feeding gophers? Any tips are greatly appreciated and of course, I'll wait to plant until after this so-called "blizzard" blows thru this week.


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Paula, sounds like something great to try. You might want to keep a weedeater away from them, may even want to shade them.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 10:37PM
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Larry - they're going inside a soon-to-be fenced area where I won't need a weed-eater. LOL!!! And I will have the option to put them away from late day sun...

Good save. I hadn't thought about the late day temps since they won't have ground to insulate. SEE??? That's why I come here for advice. With these and the 2 grow bags I ordered, that will be 12 bags of potatoes that could make a good harvest. Best to work smart, not harder. Thanks for mentioning this!


    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 11:03PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Paula, The hardest part about growing potatoes in above-ground containers is keeping them cool enough. If the plants and their soil get too hot, you will get a poor crop. When I grow them in containers, I put a row of other containers all around the potato containers so that the outer countainers absorb the heat and sunlight and shade the inner containers.

When I've grown potatoes in a really big container (the 200 gallon galvanized stock tank) I planted trailing plants around the edges of the stock tank so that the trailing plants would hang down over the sides of the tank, shading it, and helping keep the sides from absorbing too much heat. Even with that, I felt like the harvest from the stock tank was poor compared to the harvest from in-ground plants growing in a raised bed 5' away. I just think the soil in the tank got too hot despite my efforts to shade it. It wasn't a poor harvest overall, and the plants in the stock tank did produce, but they produced smaller potatoes and fewer of them than the ones in the raised bed. That's the issue with potatoes in containers in our climate.

It isn't just the late day sun that will be an issue by late May---it will be the all-day sun. If you could put them in a place where something will shade the containers (not necessarily the plants themselves--but the sides of the containers), that would help. Remember that when you grow a plant above ground in a container, you are exposing it to temperatures roughly one zone higher than your normal zone, so if you are in zone 7a, then your potatoes will be growing in zone 8a conditions due to the lack of ground around them to insulate them. That one zone difference works the opposite in cold weather---due to a lack of insulation from the ground, the container plantings are growing one zone colder in cold weather.

You could work around that by putting an early variety of potatoes in the containers so they'd get most of their growth done before the soil temp hits the range where tuber initiation ceases, which is 85 degrees. I think if you use a thermometer to check the soil temp in your potato bags in April and May every afternoon, like right when you come in from work, you could track the soil temp and see at which point it is hitting 85 degrees. At my house, that likely would be in late April or early May, though my in-ground soil temps don't start hitting the mid-80s until late May most years. This largely explains why I don't plant many, if any, potatoes in containers any more. If growing in containers was my only option, I'd do it and be happier with the lower yield because it is better than no yield at all.

I'm not trying to talk you out of using the grow bigs, just pointing out that the challenge will be to keep the soil in them cool enough so you'll get a better harvest. For people in cooler climates than ours, potatoes do great in containers....but I'm talking about areas where folks think they're having a terrible heat wave if their high temperature exceeds 85 degrees on a "hot summer day".


    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:21PM
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I have tried potatoes in a large container twice and was not happy with the result.

I also hilled extremely high one year after reading the claims that you get more potatoes. That didn't work either. I got potatoes, but they did not continue to grow up the stem like all of the hype on the web.

I don't plant a lot of potatoes but it is very nice to have those new potatoes, especially the Yukon Golds.

I think that I am going to plant my potatoes between my cattle panels. I have to have the panels far enough apart later in the summer when the beans and cukes begin to billow at the top, but in the Spring and early summer it seems like a lot of wasted space at ground level. The potatoes should be gone before the other vines get too heavy on top. Every year I wish I had a separate place to plant potatoes because they look so ugly that last few weeks before digging, but it is just not to be found at my house.

My potatoes are ready to plant but we just got another 4 tenths of an inch of rain, and we have a lot of cold night time temps ahead.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 3:33PM
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I use Demo bags for lots of things, and I stock up each summer when Ace Hardware has them for $.50. If you decide to use them, they will last a season, but that's about it. They don't hold up well to UV light.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 8:03PM
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I know that you are very creative in finding new uses for ordinary household items - like storing packets of frozen food in CD storage holders from a dollar store.

This comment piqued my curiosity. What things do you use Demo bags for?


    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:43PM
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Here is an option, tree bags. I grow trees in the field to 2" cal ip. and these bags are real effective above ground. this company is located in OKC just off north 63rd off broadway ext http://www.treebag.com/

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 6:18PM
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Sorry for the delayed response. I use demo bags for hauling anything that will destroy a trash bag. I keep a local cabinet maker supplied with them, so he saves me all his saw dust. Much easier than when I first found him, and had to shovel it from his pile into the trailer. They are great to overstuff with leaves, in a way I can't accomplish with trash sacks. Same for pine needles and compost. When I break apart bales of Pro Mix, I can put demo bags of it in several locations for convenience. When I"m bagging up old clothes, demo bags it is. They make great stuff sacks for all things Scouting too. Although I generally empty the freezer in laundry tubs, I sometimes toss the extra into demo bags.

They are incredibly strong until UV light breaks them down. Then they crumble and make terrible mess. Great for hauling, but not for long term storage.


This post was edited by seedmama on Thu, Mar 7, 13 at 19:07

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 8:54PM
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I thought I would just throw an idea out. I am going to try some of these tree bags out on my garden. The round sides are made of weed barrier with a plastic bottom.I think evasive herbs will work good barried in ground since they come from 1 gallon size to 48".

What if half barried and piled dirt around sides of bags...that way you could keep on piling compost or like material on patatoes as they mature.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 3:17PM
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