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Using the Potato Grow Bag

Cut the seed potatoes into 2-ounce chunks, about the size of a small lime. If your seed potatoes are small, you can plant them whole. Fold down the top edge of the bag, and then add a 4-inch layer of moistened potting mix. We recommend using one of our potting mixes, such as [a href="http://www.gardeners.com/buy/container-potting-soil-mix/34-358.html"]Organic Container Mix[/a] or [a href="http://www.gardeners.com/buy/container-planting-mix/38-781.html"]Container Mix[/a]. The regular [a href="http://www.gardeners.com/buy/gardeners-best-potato-grow-bag/8589785.html"]Potato Grow Bag[/a] holds 50 quarts; the [a href="http://www.gardeners.com/buy/gardeners-best-jumbo-potato-grow-bag/8589787.html"]Jumbo Potato Grow Bag[/a] holds about 120 quarts. Place the seed potatoes on the surface of the mix, spacing them evenly. Cover the seed potatoes with a 3" layer of planting mix. Water thoroughly to settle the planting mix and eliminate air pockets. The small plants begin to grow. Once the plants have grown to about 8", it's time to add more soil. Unroll the bag to its full height. Gently pour moist soil mix over the plants in a layer about 4" deep, burying some of the stems and foliage. Just the tops of the plants are now peeking out. Water thoroughly. Allow the plants to grow, adding more soil after they've grown another 8". Repeat the process until all the soil mixture is used and the bag is full. A healthy bag in early summer. Potato plants in flower. [a href="http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/colorado-potato-beetle/5294.html"]Colorado potato beetles[/a] are the most common pest. Inspect your plants regularly, looking under the leaves for the clusters of yellow eggs. If you see them, rub them off with your finger. Adult beetles are easy to identify and control: Just pick them off with your hands and toss them into a bucket of soapy water. The beetles might bother your plants for a few weeks; just keep monitoring and hand-picking and your plants will be fine. Water as needed and your plant will flower and grow vigorously through the summer. Toward the end of the season, the leaves will start yellowing and the stems will wilt. At this point, stop watering and wait a week or two. After that, the potatoes are ready to harvest. The look of a ready-to-harvest plant varies greatly. In some cases, the foliage might be brown and completely wilted. Another bag that is ready for harvest. Note the withered, browning, yellowing foliage. One of the potatoes has been pushed to the surface. The fun part: Turn the bag over and dump it out. To keep it neat, dump the bag into a wheelbarrow. Dig for the potatoes. Most will cling to the plant, but some may have fallen off so be sure to sift through the soil thoroughly. Keep varieties separate so you can choose the best cooking method.

What You'll Need
on Planting Day

  • Seed potatoes: You can buy them from us or provide your own. The regular Grow Bag holds three to five pieces; the Jumbo holds seven to 10.
  • Soil: The regular Grow Bag holds 50 quarts; the Jumbo holds about 120 quarts. If you like to use your own fertilizer, we recommend our Container Mix or Organic Container Mix.
  • Granular fertilizer: We recommend All-Purpose Fertilizer.
  • Water

Our Gardener's Best Potato Grow Bags are specialized fabric "pots" that make it possible to grow potatoes in almost any sunny location — even on a deck or a porch.

Planting

Pick the site: Plant potatoes when the danger of frost has passed. Not sure of frost dates in your area? Contact your local cooperative extension service. Select the sunniest site possible. All-day sun is best, but as little as 6 to 8 hours will do. Keep in mind that you will need to water the Potato Bag regularly, especially if rainfall is insufficient.

Prepare the soil: Put the soil in a wheelbarrow or tub that can hold it all at once. If you've chosen potting mix that does not have fertilizer in it, add granular fertilizer. Moisten the soil and mix thoroughly. About one-third of the soil will get used on planting day. The rest will be used as the plants grow. Set it aside.

Prepare the seed potatoes: Cut the seed potatoes into five 2-ounce chunks — about the size of a lime. If your seed potatoes are small, you can plant them whole.

Plant the bag: Fold down the top edge of the bag to form a 4″ cuff. Fill the bag with the moistened soil mixture until it's about 4″ deep. Place the seed potatoes on the soil surface, spaced evenly. Cover with another 3″ of soil.

Once the plants have grown to about 8″, it's time to add more soil. It's OK if some of the foliage gets buried. Unfold the edge of the bag and add about 4″ of the soil mixture and water thoroughly. Allow the plants to grow, adding soil after they've grown another 8″. Repeat the process until all the soil mixture is used and the bag is full.

This unsual technique encourages the plants to make lots of potatoes, which form along the buried portions of stem.

Growing

Water regularly: The porous fabric allows the Potato Bag to breathe, which prevents overheating and overwatering. However, it's important to monitor the moisture level in the bag because it can dry out quickly. The soil should feel moist, not soggy. In the hottest part of the summer, it might be necessary to water every day.

Potato beetle

Colorado potato beetle

Watch for pests: Colorado potato beetles are the most common pest. Inspect your plants regularly, looking under the leaves for the clusters of yellow eggs. If you see them, rub them off with your finger. Adult beetles are easy to identify — and control: Just pick them off with your hands and toss them into a bucket of soapy water. The beetles might bother your plants for a few weeks; just keep monitoring and hand-picking and your plants will be fine. For more options, read Controlling Colorado Beetles.

Harvest

Potatoes, ready for harvest

Potato plants usually look pretty shabby just before it's time to harvest.

Look for the signs: Pay attention to watering and your plant will flower and grow vigorously through the summer. Toward the end of the season, however, the leaves will start yellowing and the stems will wilt. At this point, stop watering and wait a week or two. After that, the potatoes are ready to harvest.

Dump the bag: Empty the bag — plants, soil and all — into a wheelbarrow. Dig through the soil and pull out the potatoes. You can expect to harvest about 7 lbs. of potatoes, although you could get as much as 13 lbs. in a good year. Add the old soil to your garden or compost pile. Clean out the bag and save it for next year.