Growing Potatoes in Boxes

catherine23915October 5, 2013

I built 5, 3x3x4 potato boxes, planting a different variety in each box. I "hilled" with soil, compost and straw mixture. I coiled a soaker hose up the inside of each box and kept the plants well watered. The early maturing varieties did poorly with potatoes only in the first 12'' (7- 10 lbs/ box) The later maturing did better, (17-23 Lbs / box) the Purple Peruvian did the best with 30 lbs. But, even these were concentrated in the bottom third of the box. Any ideas how to increase my yield?
Thanks, Catherine

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Was the growing mixture so loose that the potatoes simply gravitated towards the bottom?

Were the potatoes uniformly well-shaped when harvested?
(shaped as expected per variety)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 11:25PM
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lonmower(zone8 Western Oregon)

This method does not produce the hundreds of pounds suggested by the hype. There is much written on this forum and the internet concerning this myth. I myself tried several years with results similar to you. I now grow potatoes hilled in the garden and in plastic tubs with excellent results.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 12:40AM
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I tried the potato bin before I moved here. I also planted some extra seed potatoes along the edges outside my raised beds. IIRC, the bin didn't produce especially better than those planted as an afterthought.

This year, I tried the "instant bed" by pretty much putting down a small amount of leftover soil I had from filling the new raised beds, along with what compost I could muster up and mulched with straw. I won't be repeating that. It seemed the best "pockets" of potatoes were those in the most soil. I think I'm going to plant them in a more traditional dirt-hilled method next year.

This year's garden barely got planted, as we bought the house last summer, and have been remodeling. We ended up doing a kitchen remodel in the spring, when I had planned to do do the raised beds. I knew the way I planted to potatoes was iffy, but I had higher expectations for the yield.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 3:00AM
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It helped me to learn that late potatoes set tubers multiple times, so do well in hilling or mulching multiple times.

Early potatoes set once like determinate tomatoes.

More info

Here is a link that might be useful: yields of various potato growing methods

1 Like    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 2:38PM
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lonmower(zone8 Western Oregon)

nice work corrine!

I have tried all the methods except the wire cage. The wooden box I would rate as a complete failure and the straw method nearly so as I had voles under the straw munching away on my spuds. My garden has raised beds without sides and I dig an 8" trench right down the middle for potatoes amd then hill a few times. Harvest is easy because the soil remain very loose in my beds. This method has given the highest yields. I also grow in containers and this method works fine. I use plastic tubs and grow bags. This past season I started a large gro-bag in my green house and then moved it outside when the weather moderated. I got an very early harvest in June and I liked that a lot I make lots of compost and I grow the potatoes in 1/2 compost and.1/2 sand and they do well keeping them evenly watered. Harvest time I just take the bin/bag to the compost pile and dump it out. Fun finding the Taters!!!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 4:20PM
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The gopher population where I live prevents me from planting in-ground. I have been growing potatoes (although, mostly garilc) in bins for over a decade. I get 13 to 15lb. of potatoes from each pound of seed.

I use 2X4 plastic coated wire fencing for my bins and they are 3' in diameter and 2' tall. The soil is between 16" and 20" deep. I continue to add layers of soil (usually just twice) as the potato vines grow up.

This method requires thoughtful feeding and regular irrigation. And no "dirt."

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 8:40AM
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How do you know what your yield is if you do not quantify? You may be more successful than you realize or less if you don't measure, you will never know.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 8:42AM
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I thought of a few more things for potato success no matter the method.
-certified disease free seed potatoes
-fresh soil & compost mix without fresh manures (that hasn't grown any potatoes, tomatoes, peppers..)
-set mousetraps in covered boxes for vole control
-plant early & late season varieties
-have a plan for storage of harvest to avoid waste (rotten potatoes stink)

I've grown in garbage cans, raised beds, wire, cardboard boxes, and repurposed City of Seattle type green plastic cylinder composters... and in the ground hilling (greatest yield). When I run out of garden space for potatoes, I still use the various container methods & just expect a smaller yield -- mostly because I know they will dry out more & not get watered as well once the summer drought hits.

Easiest of all methods to keep them watered using soaker hose in large raised beds or in-ground plantings. The mulch helps, but doesn't omit watering in summer.

If in containers I manage to harvest every last tuber, but if in the ground or in raised beds there are always volunteers. Some years I've destroyed them all or replanted in another area. Last year, after harvest I remulched the beds since they were near & around fruit trees. I left the volunteers that grew & harvested a small amount so far. These potatoes had a bit of scab, but taste was fine. There is more in the ground that I will dig as needed. No work on my part other than turning on the soaker hose for the trees & rhubarb nearby.

1 Like    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 1:39PM
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