By Erin Huffstetler | 05/03/2018 | 9 Comments
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I have a small yard, so I’m always looking for ways to squeeze in as many plants as possible. Growing my potatoes in cages is one of the ways that I do that. With this method, I can grow a crop of potatoes in as little as two square feet, and I don’t have to do any digging either. But the real icing on the cake? I actually end up with more potatoes by growing them this way.
Want to try it out for yourself? Here’s how to grow potatoes in a cage.
Start with a bag of seed potatoes (don’t use potatoes from the grocery store; they’ve probably been sprayed with growth inhibitors). You can order seed potatoes from a garden catalog, or pick them up locally from a garden center, or Co-op store.
Then, cut your seed potatoes up into pieces, with at least two eyes per piece. Allow them to sit for a day or two, so they skin over before you plant them. This will keep them from rotting when you bury them.
Form cages for your potatoes out of wire mesh or stiff plastic netting. Whichever you choose, you’ll need a piece that’s five-feet long and at least three-feet tall for each cage that you plan to make.
Once you’ve rounded up your materials, simply form the mesh into a two-foot wide circle, and bend the ends together to hold the shape.
Position your cage(s) where you want them. Stake them down, if you live in a windy area. Then, line the bottom and the first few inches of the sides in wet newspaper. This will help to keep the soil in.
Place your potatoes in the bottom of the cage. Four potato pieces per cage is about right. I used extra-large cages this time, so I placed six potato pieces in mine.
Cover the potatoes with soil. Three inches is pretty typical, but consult the instructions that came with your potatoes. Finish by giving them a good watering.
Continue watering your plants regularly, and deeply. They need about an inch of water each week.
Add more material as they grow. Watch for the potato plants to break through the surface and extend about six inches. Then, add a couple inches of soil, leaves or straw. Continue adding material for the next month.
Harvest your potatoes two to three weeks after they’ve flowered, if you want new potatoes; or two to three weeks after the tops have died back, if you want fully mature potatoes. To harvest, simply lift the cage off, and the potatoes will fall out.
More Ways to Grow Potatoes
Potatoes also do beautifully in trash cans (just add drainage holes), and containers that are at least two feet deep. Look around your garage, and see what you have that will work.
When to Plant Potatoes
Wait until after the last frost to plant your potatoes. If you plan to store your potatoes long-term (and you live somewhere with a long growing season), consider waiting until mid-June to plant your potatoes.
Companion Plants for Potatoes
To Deter Pests, Place Your Potato Cages Near …
- Beans, catnip, coriander, horseradish or nasturtium (they’ll repel Colorado potato beetle)
- Marigolds (they’ll repel nematodes)
Do Not Plant Your Potatoes Near …
- Cucumbers, raspberries, squash, sunflowers or tomatoes (they’ll increase the chance of potato blight)
How Many Potatoes Should I Plant?
Under optimal growing conditions (good soil, plenty of water, few pests), you can expect to get eight to ten times what you planted. So, if you plant five pounds, you might get 40-50 pounds of potatoes. According to the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, the average American eats 110 lbs of potatoes each year (but that includes chips).