How to Grow Potatoes in a Bucket

Five-gallon buckets are often readily available for free and putting them to another use is a good way to keep them out of landfills. A five gallon bucket can make a good container for growing a variety of plants, including potatoes. Harvesting is even easier than growing the spuds in the first place.


Why Grow in a Bucket?

One great advantage of growing in a bucket is portability. Although potatoes can be grown in any USDA Zone, gardeners in the colder regions may not be able to dig the soil in early spring. You can plant a bucket and move it to take advantage of warm microclimates. A bucket can also be placed on a patio or deck if you have limited room.

Choosing A Bucket

If your bucket was previously used, you should consider if you want that substance to come into contact with the soil for your potatoes. A bucket that contained something like laundry detergent, for example, could be easily rinsed out. Dried paint can often be peeled from the plastic surface. If your bucket contained tar or a toxic chemical, don’t use it for potatoes.

Drainage, Drainage, Drainage

The biggest potential problem you have when growing something in containers is drainage. That’s particularly true with a five-gallon bucket, because it doesn’t have any drainage holes to begin with and you must make them. While something like a hot ten-penny nail will easily penetrate the plastic, it’s better to drill six holes at least half an inch in diameter around the bottom perimeter of the bucket.

Soil for Your Bucket

Since your potatoes will be limited to their environment, make sure you fill the bucket with rich, friable soil. Sandy loam with additional nutrients in the form of kelp, seaweed meal or green sand is a good choice, as is commercial potting soil. Potatoes need soil that is rich in potassium and on the acid side. A soil test will help ensure you have what your potatoes need.

Potato Varieties

Except in unusual circumstances, you probably won’t be able to grow enough potatoes to supply your family with everything they need. Instead, try some of these unusual and especially tasty varieties:

  • Austrian Crescent
  • Green Mountain
  • LaRatte
  • Magic Molly Fingerling
  • Mountain Rose
  • Peruvian Purple
  • Rose Finn Apple
  • Russian Blue.

Harvesting Bucket Potatoes

When potatoes flower, it’s a signal the tubers are starting to form. About three weeks later, you can harvest new potatoes. Gently plunge your hands into the soil and harvest anything that’s the size of a hen’s egg or larger. Once the potato tops die down, wait three weeks and simply turn the bucket on its side over a tarp to harvest your crop.