Generally, entertaining the thought of home grown food is given a pass due to the space crunch in modern urban lifestyle. Here is a great way to grow your own organic potatoes, whether at your small balcony, roof top, patio or terrace, the produce will still look fresh and taste good. In fact, many of us are not even aware of how organic and homegrown vegetables such as potatoes taste: their flavor will be quite different from the stuff that you would get in a store or supermarket. Here is a chance to give your taste buds the chance to taste what they were always meant to—the sweetness of homegrown and organic vegetables.
Grow potato plants in small pots
1) Use seed potatoes or the left over from before that is considered not edible such as potatoes with sprouted surface. Most times normal potatoes that have naturally sprouted will do. You can also plant the supermarket potatoes. Choose the ones that are healthy, that is, not bruised or rotting.
2) Store them in a cool, dark and dry place so that they develop eye buds (potato eye is a dimpled spot in potato from where the bud appears and grows into a new plant). Check your potatoes every day. Once you spot a few buds, it means the potatoes are ready for planting. Try to pick potatoes that have more than one eye bud. The greater the number of buds the greater will be the spuds. Ideally, choose potatoes with 2 to 3 buds. Remove the rest of the eye buds.
3) Cut large potatoes with multiple eye buds in half in order to get more plants. Allow the potatoes to dry for a few days before planting. Ensure both halves have at least two sprouts while cutting big potatoes.
Planting of organic potatoes in small containers at home
4) Choose a pot: Take a medium sized bucket. Technically, choose a pot with 10 liters of volume (2.5 gallons) and at least 24 inches deep. Ideally, they can be grown in any kind of container such as polyethylene bags, dustbins, sacks, or tires. The container should ideally have sufficient space as well as holes in the bottom in order to drain out the excess water.
5) Planting organic potatoes: Plant potatoes when the soil is sufficiently warm. In a country like India, which has a temperate climate, you can just about plant them in any season. Fill the container up to 4-6 inches with warm, humid, moist soil. Place the tubers or potatoes on top of the soil with the sprouts facing the upward. Then cover the tubers with 4 to 5 inches of good quality, nutrient rich soil, found so abundantly in these parts.
Factors to aid fast growth of organic potatoes at home
6) Choose a sunny location. Use soils rich in organic matter. You can add some organic matter too or compost your vegetable refuse at home to provide organic manure to the mixture. Water your potato pot regularly to keep the soil evenly moist. Lack of water will kill the plants. Keep the temperature cool.
Some extra tips and tricks for growing organic potatoes
7) Growing organic potatoes in pots may need some extra tips and tricks to improve the productivity and flavor of the crop. When the plants are 6-8 inches high, mix up the soil at the base. Do this every two or three weeks, till you are left with around 2 inches at the top. Do not overfill the pot. Use manure or compost for mixing to ensure the plants get their regular supply of nutrients. You can use fertilizers but it is not advisable. Keep it as natural and organic as possible. For growing potatoes in small containers, natural manures and compost are sufficient.
8) For pests and diseases, avoid water-stagnant soil and don’t wet the foliage too much. Common diseases and pests may infect your container grown potatoes but you can get rid of them using organic manure or fertilizers.
9) Harvesting: Don’t harvest organic potatoes before leaves yellow. Once the blooms appear, your organic potatoes are ready to be harvested and relished.
Here are a few YouTube videos that show how organic potatoes can be harvested:
Organic potato: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMrkIecqQL8
Harvest homegrown potato: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2637Ga0YUgM