Growing potatoes in bags or barrels is an easy way to get started with container gardening. Container gardening is especially popular in areas where space is limited, such as urban and rooftop or balcony gardens. Potatoes can be grown in ordinary garbage bags, which reduces the risk of pest and fungal damage. Some gardeners opt to use barrels in place of bags, which works just as well but can be a bit more costly.
Pros: Growing Potatoes in Bags
Growing potatoes in bags, whether they are plastic or burlap, enables you to reduce the risk of pest and fungal damage. Adding only clean potting soil to the bag means there is less of a chance of insect and pest damage. Bags are cheaper than barrels, more readily available, and can take up less vertical space. A plastic garbage bag of soil with potatoes can be placed on a patio or deck and kept moist without concern for scratching or damaging the cement or wood surface.
Cons: Growing Potatoes in Bags
When growing potatoes in bags, drainage can be a concern. You will need to cut several holes or slits in the bottom of your garbage bag prior to adding soil. Placing the bag in such a way that enables those slits or holes to drain can be tricky, and you may find that the moisture and condensation inside the bag makes it easy to over-water.
Pros: Growing Potatoes in Barrels
A barrel is a much more durable container for growing potatoes. Using an old wooden wine barrel or plastic garbage barrel reduces the risk of breaks or tears causing soil spillage, as you might find when growing potatoes in bags. The rigidity of the barrel also enables better drainage. Punch holes in the bottom of your barrel and cover the floor of the barrel with stones prior to adding soil to make sure excess water drains freely.
Cons: Growing Potatoes in Barrels
Growing potatoes in a barrel is a bit more of a permanent installation than is the case with bags. A barrel filled with soil is heavy, and can scratch or damage deck or patio surfaces when it is dragged. Barrels also tend to be substantially more expensive than bags, and thus require a larger initial investment to get started.
- University of Hawii Beaumont Agricultural Research Center: Sub-irrigation Methods for Growing Potatoes in Containers Under a Rainshelter
- University of California: Master Gardeners of San Mateo & San Francisco Counties: Potato trial: Containers vs. Garden Beds
- Growing Potatoes: Potato Farming Patio Style
Andrew Leahey has been a writer since 1999, covering topics as varied as technology how-to guides and the politics of genetically modified organisms to African food supplies. He is pursuing his J.D. while renovating an 1887 farmhouse located in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.