Grow potatoes in containers to save space

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African proverb

Don’t have enough space for potato growing? You’re probably right. Unless you grow potatoes in containers. I have learned from a bunch of great gardeners about their tried and tested methods to growing potatoes and sweet potatoes above soil. These clever ideas all revolved around containers made from either firm materials such as wood or also other surprising materials such as feeder bags. All surprisingly do-able, smart ideas aimed for growing potatoes with least effort and best yield. Note: these “containers” are mostly recycled, cheap or free.

My favorite grow potatoes in containers examples are:

A wooden box container made from 4 x small doors: When all the doors are locked together, they form a square planter. The planter can either have a bottom or be open to drain into the soil it stands on.

  • Pro’s: If made from a hard wood, or wood that is for example scorch-treated, this container will last forever. You can move it around and harvesting is made easy by unlocking the doors when the time is right.
  • Cons: to grow potatoes in cobtainers this way, can be a pricey process, especially if you build them big enough to carry a descent amount of spuds.
  • How To: Fill a third high and plant. Keep filling to hill as the potatoes grow. Once the potato stems have browned, open the doors and let the potatoes roll out.

Did you know? The scorching method has been used for centuries in Japan and is known as shou sugi ban. The fire-charring method on the wood surface is followed by a coating of natural oil which effectively preserves the wood as it is also followed with a coating of natural oil.  

Rolled hessian or feeder bags: Allowing you to always at the right height.

  • Pro’s: The depth can easily be adjusted by simply unrolling the sides. These bags can be used as a recycling alternative and will most likely be free. Watch out for over-watering though!
  • Con’s: Finding a descent hessian bag may not be as easy as plastic options and nobody wants to grow in plastic. Fabric bags may not last longer than a season.
  • How To: Roll the bag low so that your first planting depth is correct. Unroll and fill with soil as you need to hill around the ever-taller plants. At harvesting time, simply empty the bag out.

Wire fencing loop containers: Double loops of recycled wire fencing works a charm and any size is achievable.

  • Pro’s: Finding damaged fencing is easy and usually free, making this a fantastic recycling option. The material is light and easy to work with allowing an easy set-up and harvesting. The material can also be used again and again.
  • Con’s: If you are using damaged wired fencing, make sure there’s no rust or sharp points.
  • How To: Double loop the fence into a barrel and secure. Fill to the right starter height and add soil as the plant grows. Once at brown stem, harvest-stage, un-fasten the fence and let it roll open to release the soil and spuds.

Stacked tire towers: A re-using idea well known by any and all that has ever likes recycling tires in the garden. It is another easy-to-dismantle idea to grow potatoes in containers.

  • Pro’s: Used tires are available to any and all, mostly always free of charge. The material itself helps retain water very well and will last probably forever.
  • Con’s: Is the material used in making a tire safe for eating? Although nobody suggest you eat the tire itself (smirk), the rubber/tire particles can leech into the soil. An alternative to planting straight into the tires, is to line them out with un-printed and plastic-free cardboard, followed by the soil so that there is no direct contact between tire and soil. Don’t let the soil get too wet.
  • How To: Lay tire 1 down, fill with soil and plant. Once the plant needs to be supported, stack the second tire on top and fill with soil to hill around the plant. A final, 3rd, tire will be needed for height. When the harvesting time comes, these tires can simply be removed.

Buried under a mount of old wood chips is a method used by some successfully, although it is not planted a container.

  • Pro’s: This is the lowest-effort option of all and your soil is fed while the wood chips break down.
  • Con’s: wood chips can lack in nutrients and rob your soil and plants of nitrogen while it breaks down. Make sure to read and understand the How To below.
  • How to: Never use new but at least 1 year old wood chips. Grow a legume, such as peas or peanuts, nearby to provide further nitrogen. Lay your potatoes or sweet potatoes on the ground and dump a mound of wood chips over these. As the stalks grow through the chips, keep adding more wood in order to ‘hill’.

My favorite option for sweet potatoes is a wired fencing loop that can act as container and also trellis for the edible greens that we harvest. For potatoes, I will probably daydream about becoming a good bag lady (hessian or other cotton) .

Thoughts?

Plants for Regenerative Gardens and growing

Plants for Regenerative Gardens is all about Plant regeneration – definition: Plant regeneration refers to the physiological renewal, repair, or replacement of tissue in plants.

On the list of gardeners and plants for regenerative gardens are examples of magic, and believers in magic. To see a small dice-size sweet potato sprout turn into a crop that never runs out… that is magic!  “Eventually, my eyes were opened, and I really understood nature. I learned to love at the same time.” – Claude Monet 


How magic are these TOP 10 plants for regenerative gardens. They literally re-grow themselves. Two for the price and effort of one!

  • Romain lettuce and Bok Choy will regrow when you add the stump to a glass and fill with water to the shallow depth of about 1cm. Refresh with new water daily and watch how it’s growing on. It’s that easy.
  • A sweet potato can be kept in a plastic back at the back of a cupboard to allow for side shoots to form. Cut a little chunk off the tuber, around from where the vine grows from. Plant these slips in the soil and watch it all unfold. You will wonder why you have ever bought sweet potatoes.
  • Spring onions are at the top of the easiest list. Pack the little bulb ends in a glass together, so that they fit snug enough not to fall over. Fill the glass with 1cm of water and make sure you replace this water with fresh water every day. Expect new plants within a week.
  • Sprouting garlic bulbs will provide you with greens for your salads and sandwiches that are packed with flavor. They have furthermore amazing anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Additionally, one cup of chopped greens can give you a whopping third of your daily Vitamin C needs. So we can see that immune systems will be boosted and so will your dish. Place the cloves in a class, packed (like spring onions) together firmly. Fill the bottom centimeter with water and refresh daily.
  • Ever considered growing carrots for their greens? Place discarded carrot tops in a dish with you their stumps just covered with water. Replace and refresh water as needed. Carrot leaves are not only edible but will give you at least 5 times more vitamin C than the root, while also rich in other vitamins, minerals and protein, calcium and potassium.
  • Celery and lemon grass can both plants for regenerative gardens and can easily
    be grown from their bottom stumps by the same method of standing in shallow water.
  • Love onions and like the idea of never having to buy them again? The bottoms that are usually thrown away can be planted in well-draining good soil and covered with a 2cm layer of soil. Make sure to first dry this piece for a day or 2. Within a week or 2, leaves will poke above the soil. Remove from the soil at this time together with shriveled skins. Take a sharp knife and cut the bottom into sizable pieces, each with their own roots. Replant in good soil and cut back the top two thirds of the leaves as this will help bulb formation.
  • Pineapples are fantastic plants for regenerative gardens and heads should be re-planted! Remove the bottom leaves so that a slender crown is left. Plant the bottom in soil, firm down around the crown and forget about it. The new pineapple plant needs patience and will only grow a new fruit in about 2 years. Pineapple plants are great for those areas in the garden that little else works for.

Please send us your pictures, challenges and success stories so that we can all learn together!