How to plant potatoes in your off-grid basics garden

How to plant potatoes and growing potatoes in containers

You may be pondering on the question of how to plant potatoes as part of sustaining your off-grid lifestyle on a small and economical scale.
Traditionally our minds are programmed to view potato growing as a full-scale farming activity, for which fair-sized land is needed as indicated in this picture.   well,   …..think again.

So, let’s think again.

……The following picture contains the solution.

Old used tyres are easily obtainable and it is the ideal solution for growing potatoes in containers.

The space requirement for your potato plant container is basically the space required to lay a tyre flat on the ground. Potatoes need sunshine to grow, so make sure that the area where you plan to place your container get at least six hours of full sun per day.

List of what is needed for growing potatoes in containers:
  1. Three or four used tyres.
  2. Sandy or well-draining topsoil.
  3. A 5-10-10 Fertilizer can be added to the soil mix beforehand.
  4. Two to three seed potatoes
  5. Constant source of water to irrigate the project for three to four months.
What you need to keep in mind:
  1. The best season to plant potatoes, is early Spring.
  2. Potato plants can’t stand severe cold of frost conditions.
  3. Choose an ideal space for setting up the project.
  4. Keep in mind that the project will continue for a period of three to four months.
  5. Also, be mindful of the sun requirements of the potato plants and;
  6. Make sure your water source will be adequate and properly plumbed to reach your project.
 How to plant potatoes:
  1. Lay the first tyre flat on your pre-selected space. Note that it is best to lay the tyre on a non-paved, water drained area.
  2. Fill the tyre completely with your sandy / well-draining topsoil.
  3. Cut each seed potato in half, or if large into thirds but make sure that each piece has a few eyes on it.
  4. Plant two or three seed portions in a tyre, about 3 inches deep and about 10 to 12 inches apart.
  5. Make sure that the grow eyes are pointing upwards when planting.
    Cover the seed with your soil mix and water properly.
  6. Water twice a week and wait for the potato plants to sprout out above the ground.
Grow your container as the potato plants grow:
  1. Once your plants are showing above the soil, add a second, but empty tyre, flat on top of the first.
  2. As the plants grow taller, start adding soil around the stems and fill the soil out to the sides of the second tyre. The top five to seven leaves of the plant should always be above the soil.
  3. Water the container twice a week and make sure that the water will be adequate to reach through to the bottom part of the container.
  4. Keep adding soil as the plant grows, until the second tyre is completely filled.
  5. Then add the third tyre and continue the process as followed with the previous tyre by filling soil in as the plant grows and watering as needed.
  6. Depending on the growth strength of the plants and the size of the tyres, you may need three to four tyres for your container planter.
When to harvest?

From the time that the plants show above the soil, the potato plant will grow for between 10 to 12 weeks. Then the leaves will start to turn yellow and it will look as if the plant is wilting.
Stop watering when the leaves are turning yellow. Leave the plant for a few more days until the leaves turn brown.  …then its time has come.
Carefully remove the top tyre. Empty the soil and collect the potato harvest from it. Work your way down to the bottom tyre. With this method, there is a chance that the harvest from the very bottom may not be prime grade, but it should still be useable. Reason is that the potatoes are formed from the bottom upwards and the youngest (prime quality) will be in the top layer.
Remove the potatoes from the plant roots.
Wash the potatoes and spread them out in a cool, dark area to dry properly.
Pack your harvest in paper bags and put it in storage.
Potatoes can be kept in a cool, dry and dark place for a couple of months.

 A few more useful hints:
  1. Make use of proper seed potatoes rather than supermarket stock for planting.
  2. The sun may tend to heat the black tyres more than what the growing plants might like. Painting of the outside of the tyres with normal exterior water based white wall paint, will act as a reflecting shield opposed to the normal black colour of the tyres.
  3. Harvested potatoes do not like light. Get the harvest out of the sun as soon as possible and always keep potatoes stored in a dark place.
  4. Consider growing multiple units to provide enough supply for your personal needs.
What is the expected harvest to seed ratio?

This is a rather difficult question to answer. It is almost like asking, how long is a piece of string?
If all goes well, it is however possible to get fifty pounds of potatoes from two pounds of seed.

Thanks for reading and all the best in trying your hand at this…………
….before you move on, please care to leave a comment below 🙂

Copyright:
Cobus vdM / https://offgridbasics.com

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10 Comments

  1. Well I never thought of using tyres for planting purposes, what a great idea.

    We are thinking of growing some kind of veg but have a problem with sunshine. Wherever we plant anything in our long but narrow garden we get sunshine for less than half a day in any particular spot. We are south facing yet the fence on either side does restrict the sunshine but unfortunately we have a tree shading the centre.

    Would you recommend growing potatoes with less than half a day’s sun thrown upon them or would you opt for another type of veg?

    We always keep potatoes in a basket in a drawer so they are cool yet in a dark place and it’s surprising how long they last this way.

    Thanks for all your planting tips here, I’ve learnt so much,
    Simon.

    • Simon, thanks for your comment. Potatoes really need enough sunshine to grow. You can look into the possibility of elevating your planters a bit to see if you can get more sunshine from that. Consider an elevated base and build your tire planter onto that maybe. You mention sunshine for half a day. If you can be able to get your plants in full sun for at least 6 hours a day, it might work.
      Cheers 🙂

  2. I never would have thought that something as simple as a tire would work so well for this. My dad used to garden before he moved to a smaller plot of land but he never grew potatoes. I always wanted him to, but he never had an interest in them, he liked to grow more greens than anything. I always said that if i ever started my own garden I would definitely add in a starch. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Pieter van der Linde

    Hi Cobus
    I found it very interesting…it seems that one can get quite a harvest from three or four sets of tyres.
    Can one plant maybe two weeks apart to ensure that you have fresh potatoes for a longer time when you harvest…or can you postpone the harvesting process for a week or two?

    • Thanks for your comment Pieter, Yes indeed, it is possible to spread your planting into the Spring season, but take heed, potatoes do not like extreme heat or extreme cold conditions. Just keep the grow time and change of seasons in mind when you plan your planting schedule.
      Cheers 🙂

  4. WOW awesome web site hope my looks as good as yours over time i like it

  5. I stayed at a hindu temple in the past and we planted potatoes but the process was really simple. We would make long ditches in the mud and then just drop the potatoe inside the ditches and cover them up.

    It was weird for me because I didn’t know they would just grow out of nothing like that :S. Amazing though

    • Thanks for your comment Josh.
      Yes, nature is a simple system. We tend to complicate it in our minds, while it actually has so much to offer in natural processes. ..like growing potatoes in the mud as you experienced and making compost from organic material for instance.

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