The idea of growing your own potatoes indoors might seem unusual, but it’s actually quite feasible and can be a fun and rewarding endeavour.
The idea came from my friend, Tim, who was running out of garden space but had a disused, run-down outbuilding – it was perfect.
If you lack outdoor space or want to grow potatoes year-round, indoor gardening can be the perfect solution. Here’s how you can grow potatoes indoors.
Choosing the Right Potatoes
Begin with choosing a variety to grow; the best ones to grow indoors are small varieties that will not have huge root systems.
Buy them directly from a garden centre or nursery, these are guaranteed to be disease-free and are bred for high yield.
Avoid using store-bought potatoes, which are often treated to prevent sprouting and could carry diseases.
Preparing the Seed Potatoes
Cut the potatoes into chunks, ensuring that each piece has at least one or two “eyes” or buds. Allow them to dry out overnight before planting. This allows a protective layer to form over the cut surfaces, reducing the risk of rotting.
Choosing the Right Container
Potatoes require a lot of space to grow, so choose a large, deep container with good drainage. Garden pots, buckets, and even grow bags can all work.
The container should be at least 10 inches deep and 10-12 inches in diameter.
Planting Your Potatoes
Fill the bottom of your container with about 4 inches of high-quality, well-draining potting soil. Place the seed potatoes on top of the soil with the eyes facing up. Cover with another 4 inches of soil.
Finding the Right Location
While potatoes are usually grown outdoors, they can thrive indoors if provided with the right conditions. Choose a location that receives plenty of sunlight – at least six hours a day. A south-facing window is typically a good spot.
Caring for Your Indoor Potatoes
Water the soil thoroughly after planting, and keep it moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to rotting, while underwatering can stress the plants.
As the potato plants grow, add more soil or compost to the container, exposing just the top few leaves. This process, known as “hilling” or “earthing up”, promotes the development of more tubers and prevents the potatoes from being exposed to light, which can make them turn green and toxic.
Harvesting Your Potatoes
Harvest time varies depending on the potato variety, but generally, you can start checking for potatoes once the plants have flowered. Carefully dig around in the pot with your hands to check the size of the potatoes. If they’re large enough, you can harvest them or choose to let them grow a bit more.
If you wait until the plants’ foliage has started to yellow and die back, you will likely get a larger harvest. To harvest, simply dump out the contents of the pot and sift through the soil to find your potatoes.
In conclusion, yes, you can grow potatoes indoors! With a bit of care and patience, you can enjoy the satisfaction of harvesting your own home-grown potatoes, no matter where you live. Whether you’re an urban dweller with only a sunny windowsill or a suburban homeowner with a bright sunroom, indoor potato growing can be a rewarding and fruitful experience.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!