I used to think that potatoes were a lot of work to grow and took up more space than my garden had to offer. About two years ago, I picked up a copy of the Farmers Almanac while waiting in an accountant’s office – the last place I expected a garden revelation. I ended up reading a brief how to article about growing potatoes in trash barrels, and have used that method to successfully grow potatoes for the past two seasons.
The process is fairly simply. First you need to drill or poke holes in the barrel so excess water can drain.
Next, put rocks in the bottom of the barrel. This will not only provide better drainage, but it will also help keep the barrel in place.
Once you have your rocks in place, you will need dirt for the potatoes to grow in. I’ve found that buying a bag of “garden soil” or “raised bed” soil.
Empty a bag of dirt into the barrel, filling about a third of it up, and then go get your potatoes. The ones that have been in the fridge for a long time and are growing eyes or sprouting roots are good candidates. Keep in mind that whatever kind of potatoes you plan are the kind you are going to get. It’s not necessary but it is a good idea to cut them in half.
Burry your potatoes under two or three inches of dirt. Then water them.
Keep the soil moist, and as the green tops grow, “hill them.” This means adding soil and burying some of the leaves, always careful to leave at least five inches of green exposed. When the plan flowers, the potatoes are ready to harvest. The most efficient way to do this is to just dump the soil and sift through it. I usually add it a raised bed that looks like it is getting low on soil when I am done.