Potatoes in a Box: the Results Show

Digging up potatoes is, by far, my favorite garden activity. It reminds me of the sawdust pile game they had at our county fair as a kid (did anyone else do this?)- the whistle blows and all the kids start pawing through the sawdust like mad. Buried in there are tokens that can be traded in for prizes. I remember some kids tunneling like groundhogs. It was wild.

Anyway…potatoes. Before I open the results envelope, let’s take a look at the potato box’s journey thus far:

Potatoes in a box

I did some preliminary pawing this summer and couldn’t find much. Certainly not the 100 pounds touted on tipnut. Today I emptied the whole box, and only came up with a few pounds.

This potato harvest is disappointing, but not surprising. Other container gardeners – Grow Organic Food and Imperfect Urban Farm – logged similar results. So did my friend in Portland who grew potatoes in stacks of old tires. Maybe they need more shade? More nutrients? I might try again next year and use more leaves than soil when covering the growing plants.

I’m giving the biggest potatoes to our friends who helped us construct the balcony garden. The baby ones I roasted in the oven tonight. Some olive oil, rosemary, and seasoning salt in our smallest cast iron skillet at 450 F. Mmmmm.

There were some winners this season. Most noticeably, the Smart Pot that grew bigger and more prolific tomato plants than it’s blue plastic tub neighbor. The Smart Pot is reusable and pretty cheap. I’m going to get a few more next year.



  1. Colin Shaw · September 11, 2011

    The biggest reason of low yields is most likely lack of water and/or lack of nutrients, they need a lot of both. Potatoes also need sunlight. When conditions are good yields of ~11kg per square metre are common. How do I know that? Because that is what we get from soil beds, 1.2m wide 4.6m, long year on year. We use well rotted cow manure which is covered while rotting and irrigate well. Even in this year of drought (in the UK) we got the same yields with Sarpo Mira.


    • foxflat · September 11, 2011

      Thanks Colin! That’s really helpful to know. I think it was the lack of nutrients. Next year I’m going to need to pay much more attention to that.

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