Growing Spuds in a Barrel
The potato became an important food crop in America after
1718, when many Irish immigrants arrived. The white potato
is referred to as the “Irish potato” because
of its association with the potato famine in Ireland in
the nineteenth century. It is a cool weather crop that
develops its tubers with soil temperatures between 60 and
70°F. While growing them in a garden can take a lot of
space, a fun way to grow them is in a barrel. The edible part
of the potato plant is a tuber.
- A large, plastic garbage can or barrel. Punch
drainage holes in the bottom.
- Potato seed pieces (available
from garden centers in early spring). You only need 2
or 3 potatoes.
- Commercial potting soil. Garden soil is
too heavy and stays too wet.
- Choose a location for the barrel. Some place
that gets sun for most of the day is ideal. Avoid shady
or spots that are extremely hot.
- Fill the barrel half-way
with potting soil.
- You can plant either whole potatoes
(if they are about the size of an egg) or cut them into
sections so that
each piece has a couple of ‘eyes’ or sprouts.
- Plant the potatoes or
pieces 3 inches below the surface of the soil.
- As the sprouts begin to grow,
gradually fill in with more soil. Be sure that you don’t
completely cover the shoots.
- Water the soil as it becomes
- By the middle of summer you should be able to dig
into the soil and feel around for the potatoes.
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