While watching some YouTube videos I ran across some videos touting 5 gallon bucket potatoes as an easy way to grow potatoes. It sounded like a great way to experiment especially since last year I planted potatoes in a plastic trash can and did not have good results.
So I watched a few of these videos and took lots of notes. This YouTube channel showed in great detail the entire process in a step by step fashion. Plus, they both seem like really nice people who like to share their knowledge and help people.
So here are my notes from watching this and other 5 gallon bucket potato videos:
Potato Growth Stage 1:
Drill holes in bottom of bucket for drainage
Add 1″ of rocks/gravel to help with drainage
Mark bucket at 5″ line and 11″ line measuring from the bottom of th bucket
Soil mix – 1/3 top soil, 1/3 dry peat moss, 1/3 Black Kow cow manure
Fill to 5″ mark with soil, place potatoe seed chit up at this level ( no more than 2 per bucket ), then cover up to 11″ mark with soil
Put something (blocks/lumber to lift it off the ground) under the bucket to protect from bugs and allow drainage
Add Water until thoroughly saturated
Add Bone Meal to top of bucket (cover entire surface area), then water again
Potato Growth Stage 2:
Update 2-23-2020 – I updated this step because I missed the part about adding soil to the bucket as the plant grows.
As the plant grows, add additional soil even if it covers the leaves of the plant. Continue until the plant goes above the rim of the bucket, add soil mix to jist below the rim of the bucket. Then add a layer of mulch/straw to top of bucket to keep sun from overheating the soil, retain moisture and turning the potatoes green (poisonous). Fill carefully from outer edge of bucket to the inside so you don’t damage the plant.
Potato Growth Stage 3:
This is where the tubers form. Water every day.
Potato Growth Stage 4:
Flowers start to bloom on the plant. This indicates that the tubers are growing into full size potatoes.
Potato Growth Stage 5:
Maturation. Leaves start turning yellow, flowers die off. Plant looks like it is sick or dying. This means the harvest is close. When the plant has bent over and looks totally dead it is time to harvest the potatoes.
Trim off the plant tops to make harvesting easier. Dump the bucket out onto a tarp, break the soil loose, grab the plant handles and shake the soil off to reveal the potatoes. Don’t was the dirt off of the potatoes. Put the potatoes in a cardboard box and cover with a paper towel. This will allow them to cure (about 2 weeks) so the potatoes last longer.
Some other interesting notes that I added to my collection included info on:
Preparing the Potato seed:
Place near windows until the chits grow to about 3/4 inch
Cut potato into multiple pieces so you can plant with chit pointing up
Let cut potato pieces cure (want them dry when planted)
Watering the Potato Plants:
Water the soil, not the plant. Put water hose close to soil and water until there is standing water (1-2″) – about a gallon of water/day. Water in the morning for best results. Water daily unless it rains hard.
Neem Oil – 100% Cold Pressed Neem Oil – 1-2 teaspoons Neem Oil to 16 ounces of water or 2 Tablespoons/gallon water
Peppermint Oil – 1 drop for every 2 ounces of water
Worm Tea – 1-2 teaspoons per 16 ounces of water
Dish Soap – Couple of drops
Shake up the mixture, then spray on the plant every week. Spray both sides of leaves to help keep bugs away. Spray every 5-7 days if insect activity. Every 10-14 days if no signs of insect activity.
How Many Potatoes Should a 5 Gallon Bucket Produce?
From the videos I watched the most common answer is one – three pounds depending on the variety of potatoes and the growing conditions. Some people got more than three pounds per bucket but if you start with that as your estimate then you can decide how many buckets you want to plant.
My 5 Gallon Bucket Potato Adventure Begins
So after all that research I have decided to give growing potatoes in a 5 gallon bucket a shot this year. I ordered some potato seeds and the first to arrive were the Organic Red Pontiac potatoes.
So I prepared my 5 gallon buckets using the notes that I took from Hollis’ video. I bought the buckets at a Firehouse sub sandwich store. They were $3 each and the money goes to help firemen in the local community.
I cleaned them out (they smelled like garlic from the pickles that were originally in them). Then I drilled holes in the bottom of each bucket for drainage.
I added an inch of rocks to the bottom to also help with drainage.
I used Black Kow manure, top soil and peat moss as he recommended. I prepared the seeds and planted them when they were ready. I added the Bone Meal to the top of the bucket and watered them again. Now it is a waiting game for the potatoes to start to grow.
I’ll plant the other potato varieties that I ordered as they arrive.