Can you grow potatoes indoors? Well in a word – YES! Read on to discover how to grow potatoes indoors- it’s not as difficult as you might think!
Everyone waits with bated breath as the months draw away from winter and towards the coming spring.
We all want to get out there and plant our gardens, getting our hands dirty again.
There really isn’t a need to wait throughout the whole winter, though, as many things can be planted indoors with just as much success.
The only practices that commonly change for indoor fruits or vegetables is that they will need to be watered more frequently and the location will need to be chosen carefully to ensure good sunlight.
How to grow potatoes indoors
This article outlines the steps required to follow for how to grow potatoes indoors, any time of the year.
Preparing seed potatoes
The preparation of seed potatoes for indoor planting is almost the same as the prep for outdoor planting.
Start with a package of seed potatoes that have been certified, in other words, don’t go and buy a bag of potatoes from the supermarket as this can mean any number of diseases may be present.
It is a good idea to chit potatoes that will be planted indoors as indoor planting can set them behind but chitting will help them to keep up.
Chitting just means placing the whole potato in the best location to encourage sprouts to begin to grow from the eyes of the potato.
A good place to set them will be in a dry area, in the sun, but still cool.
Seed potatoes will sprout after a while even in dark areas, but these sprouts will be fragile and unused to sunlight.
Once the new sprouts have grown to about .5-1 inches (1.5-2.5 cm) they are ready to plant. This may take a several weeks.
I then take a clean, sharp knife and cut any very large potatoes into chunks of about 2 square inches, each with several sprouts.
Be very careful not to damage the new sprouts, as this will set them back.
Soil and container choice
While I wait for the new potatoes to sprout, I will spend my time getting the other items ready, so when the potatoes are ready, so am I.
Part of this will involve soil preparation, slightly more important for indoor plants than for outdoor plants.
Another important factor to consider is what type of container the potatoes will be planted in. Potatoes don’t need anything fancy; they can be planted in a bucket, a large garden pot, or a large plastic or cloth bag.
However, whatever they are in, they will need to have at least two and a half gallons of growing space, as they have their biggest growth underground.
Also be sure that the container has good drainage, using a drill to make holes in the bottom for water to freely flow out once it gets to the bottom of the container. Obviously, you will need something under your vessel to catch the excess water.
Once an appropriately sized container is found, a good location needs to be found for it. Potatoes like plenty of sunlight, so find somewhere light and airy.
My suggestion is to plant your potatoes into a solid-sided vessel like a big bucket. This will mean if you want to move it to another location it will be much easier to do so.
A good suggestion to plant your potatoes into is this stiff fabric potato bin with handles and side hatch. I really like this potato planter for the following reasons:
- It is made from a stiff fabric with stong handles – this lets you move it around if you need to.
- The fabric can let the soil breath to avoid becoming a soggy wet mess, and end up rotting your potatoes if you over water.
- The side hatch will let you check how damp the soil is around the potatoes and it lets you check on their size before harvesting.
- It is reusable – plastic bags are usually ripped after use.
- They can be washed afterwards
Place potatoes in sunlight/ daylight
Just as if they were planted outside, I need to put them in a place that will get full or partial sun, about 6-10 hours during the day.
Then, fill the pots. It is often best to start several bottom inches with very gritty soil or small stones, since this will help with drainage.
I am always sure to find a soil mix to top it off that will remain lose in the pot, not quickly compacting, as well as one that drains well.
It is also important to not have a very alkaline soil as potatoes will take up nutrients more efficiently with slightly acidic soil. Adding Sulphur may help offset this problem.
This is only a bigger worry if the soil that is being used is from a yard or garden and not bought from a bag.
This allows the tuber to receive and soak up the water without sitting in it and the loose soil is important for tuber growth.
Another thing to keep in mind is to not fill the containers up to the rim as more soil will need to be added to form the mound and protect the potatoes from seeing the sun.
Planting the seed potatoes
Now that everything is ready to go and my potatoes have sprouted and been cut up, I will get ready to put them into their containers.
How many chunks of sprouted potato in each container will depend on the size of the container.
I make sure to plant my potatoes at least 6 inches (15 cm) apart with the sprouts facing up, about 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) deep.
Don’t plant the potatoes too close to the sides of the container as this will limit the tubers from growing.
Watering your potatoes
Although good drainage is important for the potatoes, it is also important to keep potatoes well-watered.
I always be sure to check and make sure the soil isn’t drying out and generally water it again every three to seven days.
The soil should not ever be soggy, but also moist, like a well wrung-out sponge at the top.
Watering can stop once the top of the plants begin to die back.
This means that the tubers are reaching full maturity and already have everything they need to finish the process.
Fertilizing your potatoes
Fertilizing potatoes only needs to happen once, about two weeks after planting them.
Since they are indoors in smaller containers with less opportunity for run-off, it is generally a good idea to dilute the potato fertilizer mixture a bit more than recommended.
The best fertilizer options to consider are ones that are higher in their potassium and phosphate levels than in their nitrogen levels.
Just as must be done outdoors, it is important to hill potatoes as they grow to protect them from seeing the sun.
This is why I will also be sure to fill my pots with at least one-third of the container left so that I have plenty of space to add soil to the top of the growing plant.
Once the sprouts reach six to eight inches high, begin to mound the soil, covering them up towards the last several inches.
Continue to do this each time the plant grows another six inches above the soil line until the plant begins to get yellow on the top.
As the plant leaves begin to yellow, I get ready to begin harvesting the potatoes.
It is a good idea to try and check with your hands how full the container is and if there is enough room, go ahead and let the plant fully die off on top to get the maximum growth of the spuds.
If there is not a lot of space, I will go ahead and harvest, as they won’t grow much more without getting in each other’s way anyway.
Pull the plant, gently, from the container by the part of the stem closest to the soil.
Then, begin to dig, taking care if using a spade or shovel, and digging out all of the tubers that have grown into the mound and below it.
Finally, congratulations! Get ready to enjoy the fruits, or potatoes, of your indoor labor!
Further reading: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/vegetables/potatoes