Friday, September 7, 2012

Growing Potatoes in a Sack

Last year I planted my potatoes directly in the ground. You are supposed to hill up the dirt around your potato plant as it grows in the hopes that it will produce more potatoes. I found it pretty hard to get a really decent hill going directly on the ground- but I still got an okay harvest.

This year I decided to try the burlap sack technique- its saves a lot of space since you go vertical, and hopefully you get more potatoes for your efforts. 

Here they are just part way into June and growing quickly. I'd say they were about a quarter way hilled up at this point.
I was worried about finding burlap sacks big enough. I asked at my local coffee shop, and guess what? Turns out that a block from my office is Burnaby Burlap. They sell whole sale Burlap but were kind enough to give me 3 bags for $2 each. Score.

To plant the potatoes, roll the sacks all the way down until they roll no more and add about a foot of soil. Make sure you have your sacks situated where you want them- once you've planted and watered you aren't going to be able to move these guys around. The burlap starts to decompose, which is actually great and the bag gets super heavy.

I was worried that light wouldn't be able to get in from the sides of the sack shading the little plantlings. I worried for naught! We had a crazy rainy June and the potatoes sprung up. I put about 4 potato seedlings in each bag.

Here they are with a bit more dirt, probably early July.
Later July, just before flowering, they really went nuts!
Around midsummer they flowered, with lots of beautiful white buds. After they had flowered I didn't bother to hill them up anymore since I guessed they wouldn't be producing anymore potatoes. 

After the flowers are gone, the plant will start to die back a bit. Once its died back, the stems getting old and scraggly, its pretty safe to dig up your potatoes.  The great thing about the sack is you basically just rip it open and root around in there for the goods. They were pretty easy to find, and I was happy with how many were produced. Interestingly I'm not actually convinced that a lot more potatoes grew after the second or third time I hilled it up. That might save you on some soil!

Plants have died back, and I'm digging through for potatoes.
Finally once you've pulled up all your potatoes you lay them out in the sun for one day to 'harden them off'. I think this helps prevent them from going bad in storage. But make sure not to leave them out for too long or the sun turns them green and gross and not good to eat (which I did forgetfully to a few of mine).

There they are!
All in all a pretty easy and successful way to grow potatoes if you don't have lots of space to spare! The only real investment is in a lot of soil for hilling. We are planning to eat some of these tonight with steak and greens. 

Final harvest drying in dish rack after a good scrub.


  1. You, my friend, are a patriot and a hero.

  2. Caitlin!! These are so cute! Tess has been updating me on your little garden but I never knew you guys were growing potatoes! and what an interesting blogpost - I never knew you could use this method!

    1. Aw! Thanks Jessica!! Actually Tess tossed the potatoes in olive oil, garlic, rosemary (from the deck), and salt last night and roasted them and they were super good!
      Thanks for reading this blog too lady, nice to know there is someone out there ;) And now I found your blog and can review your trip to China!

  3. Oh yes, sacks can be a real space saver if you want to grow your own potatoes in a garden. They’re actually way better than the usual mesh bags, as they are able to absorb enough moisture needed to grow the shoots. Your potatoes are looking good. I hope you enjoyed your produce!

    Pearlie Mcilvaine