Growing Organic Potatoes In Backyard, Containers

Introduction to growing organic Potatoes in the backyard

Potatoes are very easy to grow organically. Potatoes are not only a great addition to the backyard garden, but they are easy to grow. Potatoes are easy to grow organically in containers. Like tomatoes, the taste and texture of fresh Potatoes are very different compared to those you buy from the store. Growing organic Potatoes in containers is the best idea if you are short on space in the backyard. Not only is this an easy process, but it is also one of the best rewarding. Home-grown organic Potatoes do well in all types of soil, but the richer the better, so dig in plenty of well-rotted organic matter, such as garden compost. In this article we also discuss below topics;

  • How to grow Potatoes in backyard
  • Growing organic Potatoes in containers
  • How do you increase the yield of a Potato
  • Why are my Potato plants not producing Potatoes
  • How often should Potatoes be watered

A step by step guide to growing organic Potatoes in the backyard

Planting Potatoes in tires, containers, straw or pots is a fun and amazing project for backyard gardeners. Growing organic Potatoes in backyard needs careful attention to soil preparation, choosing early-producing disease-resistant Potato varieties, and following best cultural practices, and using natural fertilizers, row covers, crop rotation, and if it is necessary, the careful application of organic pesticides.

Soil requirement growing organic Potatoes in the backyard

Use a high-quality potting soil having fast-draining, particularly if you’re using a plastic container. Organic soils are always a better choice as well. If you are using a pot for growing organic Potatoes, you can use a garden soil mixed with compost.

Like garden-grown Potatoes, container-grown Potatoes require a rich, well-drained loamy, soil. A mix of compost and potting soil with added sand serves Potatoes well. Add a handful of well-balanced organic fertilizer as you are making your compost-soil mix. Organic Potatoes aren’t heavy feeders but it needs small amounts of trace nutrients for maximum production. For organic Potatoes, you can use a good garden soil, combined with homemade compost. A couple of handfuls of your favourite organic fertilizer can make an excellent addition, as well.

Potatoes require sandy, fast-draining, fertile soil. The tubers will become deformed in rocky or poor soil. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and do not allow it to fully dry out. Water deeply as temperatures begin to rise. They require moderate levels of phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N), potassium (K), sulfur and calcium. Before planting organic Potatoes, mix plenty of organic compost into your garden plot.

Container preparation for growing organic Potatoes in the backyard garden

Any medium size container that holds at least 2 or 3 gallons of soil can be used. Examples include baskets, trash cans, large paint buckets, or even stacks of used car tires (no, they are not poisonous to plants or people). Make sure there are adequate holes for excess water to drain.

Fill the bottom of the container with a few inches of potting soil, which will be where Potato roots will grow. Mix in a scant handful of all-purpose or organic fertilizer. Place the container where it will get sunlight but not too much-radiated heat from a wall or patio.

Planting method for growing organic potatoes in the backyard of the house

Organic Potatoes love the sun, so plant your Potato in a spot with full sun (where the plants will get at least 6 hours of sunlight each day) for the best results. Organic Potatoes are planted with pieces of tubers called seed Potatoes. Plant seeds in spring around the time of the last expected frost.

Potato Plantation.
Potato Plantation.

Small Potatoes can be planted whole, but larger Potatoes must be quartered with a clean knife before planting. Make sure each piece contains an eye or bud. To prevent rot, let the pieces of Potatoes dry for a few days before planting. Plant the seed Potatoes a few inches deep in loose, well-drained soil and spaced 12 to 15 inches in rows.

Growing organic Potatoes in containers of backyard

Full sun conditions with 6 to 8 hours of light and ambient temperatures of around 16°C will provide the best conditions for growing Potatoes in containers. You may select to grow Organic Potatoes on the deck to have quick access to the smallest new Potatoes. The plant you’re organic Potatoes after all danger of frost has passed. Make a free draining soil mixture and mix in a handful of time-release fertilizer. Fill the container with a previously moistened medium for 4 inches deep.

Seed Potatoes cut into 2-inch chunks that have many eyes on them. Small Potatoes can be planted as they are. Plant the Potatoes 5 to 7 inches away from each other and cover them with 3 inches of moist soil. Cover container Potatoes with more soil after they grow around 7 inches and continue to cover the small plants up to you reach the top of the bag. Container Potatoes must be kept well-watered but not soggy.

Growing organic Potatoes from seed in the backyard

You can grow organic Potatoes from “seed” Potatoes. These Potatoes have not been sprayed to stop their seeds from sprouting, so they’re ready for new growth. Seed Potatoes are available from nurseries, organic growers. Whenever you are almost ready to plant your seed Potatoes, you’ll need to “wake them up” approximately two weeks before the intended planting date in a process called green-sprouting.

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Groiwng Potatoes from Tubers.
Groiwng Potatoes from Tubers.

To start, place the whole seed Potato one-two layers deep in a box. Then, store them in a dark place where they can remain a steady 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Whenever it is time to take the seed Potatoes out of the box, be very gentle to avoid breaking off any of the newly sprouted eyes. Now, it’s finally time to prepare your seed potatoes for planting.

Gardening tips for preparing the seed Potatoes for planting

  • Small whole seed Potatoes that are roughly the size mentioned above do not need to be cut at all.
  • Potatoes larger than 2 ounces should be split into smaller pieces. When doing so, try to ensure that each piece of seed Potato has at least 2 eyes per piece. If only one is possible, that is okay.
  • Avoid cutting into the eyes of the Potato.
  • Some growers prefer to allow their seed Potatoes to dry before they begin planting but this is entirely preferential.
  • Once your trench is dug completely, place in your seed Potato pieces, with the eyes facing upwards. If you are planting typical Potato varieties, leave slightly less than a foot between seed Potato pieces. If you have chosen to plant fingerling variety Potatoes, leave at least 12-16 inches between each seed Potato planting.
  • Planting Potatoes too close together will result in smaller Potatoes. If you leave additional space between the plants, you will allow the Potatoes to grow larger. When done, cover the seed Potatoes with several inches of soil.

Organic fertilizer for growing potatoes in backyard

Fertilizers play a crucial role in the organic growth of the Potatoes. If you want to increase the growth of the spud crop, then good quality manures are a must for its growth. Mix an organic, slow-release fertilizer into the potting soil when planting your Potatoes. As the Potatoes grow, it is a good idea to use a diluted liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion every couple of weeks.

The plants will also benefit from an occasional application of a liquid feed as they grow. Well, balanced organic fertilizers such as seaweed extract are ideal. Alternatively, you can try making your own. Don’t apply nitrogen-rich fertilizers. These will encourage the formation of foliage, often at the expense of a large, healthy crop.

Fill your container with at least 4 to 6 inches of potting soil. If your soil doesn’t include a fertilizer, mix in a slow-release fertilizer according to the directions on the box.  One of the advantages of using an organic fertilizer is that it’s much more forgiving if you accidentally pour too much. If you use conventional fertilizer, it can easily burn your plants. Where many gardeners have gone wrong when their growing Potato plants are not producing is around bloom time, when the Potato tuber begins to bulk. Excessive application of nitrogen at this time will result in no Potatoes on your plants or low Potato yields.

Organic fertilizers which are good for growing Potatoes

In addition to composted kitchen and yard waste, there are several other types of homemade organic fertilizers;

Coffee grounds – Acid-loving plants generally grow well if sprinkled with coffee grounds. The dried grounds can be sprinkled on top of the soil or use a soil drench; soak 6 cups of coffee grounds in 5 gallons of water for 2 to 3 days then saturate the soil around your plants. Be careful not to overuse coffee grounds when planting Potatoes as the grounds contain a lot of nitrogen, which isn’t necessary for a good Potato yield.

Farmyard manure – Composted and aged manure can be an excellent fertilizer; you can let it steep in a permeable cloth bag for a few days before applying it to the soil to condition it before planting. You can also create a manure tea by steeping the composted and aged manure in a bucket of water for 2 to 3 days; dilute the tea before applying to avoid burning the roots and the foliage.

Fish emulsion fertilizer – This fertilizer has a strong smell. Fill a 55-gallon drum to about 1/3 full using 2 parts water and 1 part fish waste and allow the mixture to steep for 24 hours; then add water to fill the drum before covering it loosely and letting the drum ferment for about 3 weeks. Fish emulsion fertilizer can be applied to the soil around the plants at a rate of 3 gallons of liquid per 100 square feet of the garden; diluted at 1 tablespoon of emulsion per gallon of water, this solution can be used weekly to water the growing Potatoes.

Homemade fertilizer for growing organic Potatoes in the backyard of home garden

Many gardeners have successfully used a homemade mixed fertilizer to improve the health and yield of their Potato plants.

Combine 8 pounds of cottonseed meal, 2 pounds of bone meal, 3 pounds of greensand, and ¾ pound of kelp meal in a large airtight container; this will be enough fertilizer for a 40’ row of Potatoes.

It should be placed at the bottom of the trench and worked into the soil before planting the seed Potatoes, then covered with a layer of organic compost or mulch, which should also be worked into the soil.

Water requirement for growing organic Potatoes in the backyard

Growing Potatoes in containers requires more water than the same crop grown in the ground. This is because the root system of the plant is unable to work through the ground seeking moisture. Potatoes require one inch of water per week.

Potatoes are shallow-rooted plants that benefit from light watering one or two times a week, and soil moisture has a main effect on Potato yields. Too much or too little water reduces yields and encourages diseases. The amount of water needed to be based on the soil texture and moisture levels.

Organic pest and diseases control for Potatoes

Potato Beetle.
oe Beetle.

Common pests and diseases for Potatoes include Colorado potato beetle, Flea beetles Leafhoppers, Aphids, Scab, and Late Blight

Healthy plants resist problems; keep Potatoes growing with light feedings and careful watering. Use a straw or other mulch to improve the soil for better root growth.

Cover plants with “floating row cover” which is a lightweight material that allows in sun, rain, and wind but keeps insects out. Cover plants when small all the way to harvest.

Neem oil is created by crushing the seeds of the neem plant and extracting the oil from them. This plant is thought to have pesticide properties, and the oil is frequently used by organic gardeners and those who prefer to use natural bug sprays. For removing the pests on the Potatoes directly spray the commercial neem oil preparation. Subsequent treatment may be necessary if the first round is not completely effective.

Homemade natural bug sprays for organic Potato plants can also be effective. Typically, these recipes call for either a mixture of dish soap or vinegar that can be sprayed directly onto the Potato plants. Use plain dish soap without any dyes or additional ingredients. Then, add about one tablespoon of soap to a spray bottle of water, and thoroughly douse the plants. This may need to be repeated up to the insects are gone.

When to harvest Potatoes

Organic Potato Harvesting in the Backyard.
Potato Harvest Time.

For larger Potatoes, wait until the tops begin to turn yellow and die back. To increase the storage time of Potatoes, allow them to stay in the ground for an additional 2 weeks following the dieback of the plants. When you are ready to harvest the entire container, gently dump it out into a wheelbarrow, being careful not to damage the Potatoes. Once the stems turn yellow, stop watering and wait a week. Dig out the organic Potatoes or just dump the container and sort through the medium for the tubers. Clean the Potatoes and let them cure for 2 weeks for storage.

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