Growing potatoes indoors is a great way to break the winter blues, not to mention, ensure that you’ve got a jump on the spring gardening season. The secret ingredient to successful indoor potato growing is straw. Using straw will keep your planting container light and easy to handle, plus it makes harvesting early potatoes simple and without risk of damaging the plant. Here are some additional tips for growing potatoes indoors.
Get the right seeds.
Successful indoor potato growing will require the correct seeds. Late-season options are the best because they’ll continue to set tubers as the plant grows taller. Early season options, on the other hand, will only set tubers one time. Good options for late season potatoes include German Butterball, Kennebec, Russian and All Blue.
Set up your container correctly.
When selecting a container for growing potatoes, remember to go with something tall. Garbage cans and tote boxes are excellent choices for containers. You can also use five-gallon buckets for smaller living spaces. Anything that’s soft and short usually won’t work because the straw won’t be able to keep the sides up.
Cover the bottom of the container with about an inch of gravel and then add approximately four inches of potting soil on top. If you can mix in a little compost with the soil, it’s even better. Water the soil and wait for it to drain before planting seeds. You’ll want the soil moist but not sopping wet.
At this point, you’re ready to plant. Add seed pieces to the soil, making sure the seed eye (or sprout) is facing up. Space seeds 8-10 inches apart, and cover each seed with only about half an inch of soil. Finally, cover the planted seeds and soil cover with about six inches of loose straw. There’s no need to pack it down tight.
Manage sunlight properly.
It’s important to regulate the sunlight and moisture levels in the container while your potatoes grow. The loose straw keeps the container light enough that you should be able to move it around so that it gets as much sunlight as possible. Check the dryness of the soil and only add water sparingly. If you overwater potatoes, they’ll rot.
After about three weeks you should see your potatoes start to peak through the top of the straw bed. At this point, you can simply add another four or so inches of straw and the potatoes should continue to grow and sprout new tubers. Continue this pattern until you’re ready to harvest! You should see baby potatoes after about eight weeks, and then it’s as simple as feeling through the straw for potatoes that are large enough to be picked.