Indoor gardening allows you the opportunity to grow all sorts of fruits and veggies in a controlled environment. With so many possibilities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When just starting out, however, it’s best to start with something simple. Growing potatoes indoors is one such crop.
Potatoes are easy to grow and relatively low maintenance. They don’t take up much space, either, so even those living in a smaller apartment may be able to fit a container or two of their favorite type of potato. And, best of all, they are delicious to eat. What could be more satisfying than cutting up some potatoes you grew yourself for homemade french fries or hash browns?
If you are interested in trying indoor gardening with potatoes, read on to learn how.
Why try growing potatoes indoors?
First, let’s cover some of the benefits of an indoor potato garden.
Indoor gardening, in general, is perfect for those who lack a great deal of outdoor space. Maybe you live in an apartment, or maybe your existing garden is already full. Either way, expanding your garden indoors affords you additional space. And it’s easier to control the conditions, too. When you grow plants outdoors, you are subject to Mother Nature and all her moods– including the occasional late-season frost, damaging wind storms, and drought. Not to mention neighborhood critters with an appetite for your produce.
Indoors, you don’t have to worry about any of that. You can control the temperature and it’s not too likely that a rabbit or deer are going to eat the fruits of your labor. With all the benefits, it’s well worth it to give indoor gardening a try.
Before you get started growing potatoes indoors, there are a few supplies you will need to gather.
Of course, you can grow potatoes from seed. The easiest way, however, is to simply buy a bag of seed potatoes. You may be able to find these at your local garden store, but most grocery store bags of potatoes will work just fine. You may want to opt for organic but often times regular potatoes will sprout without issue, as well. Choose the variety of potato you want to grow and pick up a bag.
There are a couple of different times during the growth process when you are going to find yourself scrubbing potatoes. While this can certainly be done by hand, it is much easier with a soft scrub brush. OXO’s vegetable brush is an example of a brush that works well for this task.
Odds are you already have some of these lying around. If not, they are readily available at most grocery stores. You don’t need too many– you will likely be planting between one and three potatoes, depending on the size of your container, and each potato needs four toothpicks.
Container or Flowerpot
It is recommended to use a container that is at least 2.5 gallons large. Ideally, it should have drainage holes already, although you can easily drill them yourself, if not. A neat option is planting potatoes in growbags. A ideal solution is this four-pack of cloth containers from Homyhoo. They feature a harvest window that you can roll up to view your crops as they grow. It’s worth noting, however, that you will definitely want to put a drainage pan underneath to catch any excess water that drips out.
Naturally, you need good soil to produce the best crops. One popular option is FoxFarm’s Ocean Forest Organic Mix Potting Soil. It is ideal for both indoor and outdoor use and does not contain any pesticides or chemicals.
Step by step plan to growing potatoes indoors
Now that you have all the supplies needed let’s get on with cultivating the potatoes.
Step one: chit and sprout your potatoes
You may plan is to plant a bag of potatoes you’ve had lying around for a while and have already sprouted. If that is the case for you, go ahead and skip this step. If not, you can chit your potatoes to help them sprout quicker.
To do this, simply place your potatoes in an empty egg carton. In terms of how many potatoes, if you have a wide mouth container, you can probably get away with planting three potatoes. For a container with a smaller mouth, you may only want to plant one. Still, you may want to sprout a few more than you plan to plant in case not all of them grow eyes. And, of course, if you are using multiple containers, you will need to sprout potatoes for each container.
Place the carton near a window and wait. After a week or so, you will likely notice sprouts on your potatoes.
Step two: clean your potatoes
Once your potatoes have sprouted, grab your vegetable brush and head to the sink. Gently scrub your potatoes under lukewarm water, taking care not to damage any of the eyes. You don’t have to clean them as thoroughly as if you were going to eat them, but you do want to remove any extra dirt or residue.
Step three: root your potatoes
Once the potatoes are clean, take a knife and cut them in half. Stick a toothpick into each side of the potato so that there is one toothpick on each side. You don’t want the toothpick in too deep, but it does need to be able to rest on the side of a glass of water and support the weight of the potato.
Once the toothpicks are inserted, fill a cup with water and place the bottom of the potato inside. The toothpicks should prevent the potato from fully submerging. Put this glass near a window that receives direct sunlight during the day. After several days, you should notice roots beginning to form.
Step four: prepare the container
As you are rooting your potatoes, you can also get to work preparing your container or containers. To do this, simply dump a few inches worth of potting soil into the bottom of your container. Aim to fill the container between one-third and one-quarter of the way up from the bottom.
Step five: plant your potatoes
Once your potatoes have rooted and your container is ready, it’s time to get planting. With the roots pointing down, place the potatoes into the container. They can be next to each other but ideally should not be touching one another or the sides of the container.
With the potatoes arranged in the container so that the roots are facing down and the sprouts are facing up, cover the potatoes with another three inches or so of potting soil. Then, position the containers in an area that receives plenty of natural sunlight each day. If you don’t have a good spot in your home, you can always use a grow light to supplement natural light, as well.
Water your new plants whenever the soil begins to dry out. Usually, this is every two days or so, but check the soil daily to be sure. If you insert your finger an inch deep into the soil and it feels dry, it’s time to add water. You don’t want the soil to be soaked, but it should at least feel slightly wet to the touch.
Step six: add more soil
As your potatoes grow, you will need to add more soil. Once the leaves of the plant are about six inches above the top layer of soil, add another few inches of dirt. You don’t want to cover the leaves completely, but you do want to make sure that the tops of the potatoes themselves remain fully submerged in soil.
Step seven: harvest and store your potato crop
Generally, potatoes take about three months to grow once they have been planted. This is not an exact science, however. When you notice the leaves of your plant starting to turn yellow and die, that means your potatoes are likely ready to harvest. If you harvest them right when the plants turn yellow, you will have bite-sized potatoes. Wait another two weeks after the initial yellowing occurs and the potatoes will be a little larger. Either way is perfectly fine– it really boils down to your personal preference. If you are growing multiple pots, you could try and harvest them at different stages so you can figure out which type you like better.
When growing potatoes indoors, the act of harvesting is easy. You can either pull out the plant from the roots or tip the pot on its side and allow the dirt and potatoes to spill out. Pluck the potatoes from the roots and dispose of the rest of the plant. It’s worth noting that potatoes in this state are actually quite delicate, so you will want to be careful during the plucking. Allow your newly picked potatoes to dry for a couple of hours and then use your vegetable brush to thoroughly clean them.
Once picked and cleaned, it is best to set your potatoes aside in a cool, dark place for two weeks or so to mature. This will give you the best tasting potato. At that point, they are ready to eat. If you wish to store them longer, continue keeping them in a dark spot for up to a few months. You can even grab a potato or two to sprout to start the whole process over again.
Potatoes are one of the easiest plants to grow and they often do very well indoors. If you are looking to give indoor gardening a try, this is an excellent crop to start with. Grab your bag of seed potatoes and get planting.