How to Plant Winter Potatoes in a 5 Gallon Bucket
Making the Bucket
- 1). Dill a 1/4-inch hole in the bottom and side of each of the three lidless tuna fish cans using an electric drill. The drill bit needs to be 1/4 inch. Set these tuna cans in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket with the lidless side facing down.
- 2). Lay a 24-inch square piece of cardboard on a flat surface and set the 5-gallon bucket on top of the cardboard. The bottom of the bucket should be on the cardboard. Outline the base of the bucket on the cardboard with a black marker. Move the bucket and cut along the black marker outline with a carpet knife. This piece of circular cardboard will be your template for a hardware cloth platform you'll set inside the bucket.
- 3). Lay the cardboard template over a piece of hardware cloth and snip away excess hardware cloth until you have a circular piece of hardware cloth identical to the cardboard template. Use wire cutters to cut the hardware cloth. Move the template away from the hardware cloth and snip 1/4 to 1/2 inch off the circumference of the hardware cloth. The hardware cloth should now be 1/4 to 1/2 inch smaller than the cardboard template. Set this piece of hardware cloth down inside the bucket on top of the tuna fish cans. There should be a 1/4- to 3/8-inch gap between the edge of the hardware cloth and the sides of the bucket.
- 4). Remove the hardware cloth from the bucket and crimp back the sharp edges in a 2- to 3-inch length along one side. Use a pair of pliers to crimp these back. Return the hardware cloth back to the bottom of the bucket on top of the tuna cans. Check to ensure the tuna cans are evenly spaced to support the hardware cloth. At the level of the hardware cloth where you crimped back the edges, place a small dot on the sidewall of the bucket using a black marker. Remove the hardware cloth and the tuna cans from the bucket.
- 5). Cut a 1-inch diameter hole directly above the mark you made on the sidewall of the bucket. The hole needs to be above this mark, otherwise the water you put into the bottom of the bucket won't be deep enough to keep the winter potato plant watered. Use a 1-inch mandrel bit and electric drill gun to cut the hole.
- 6). Set the tuna cans and hardware cloth back in the bucket. The level of the hardware cloth should be even with the bottom of the hole you just drilled.
- 7). Lay the cardboard template on top of a piece of burlap cloth and draw a circle around the template with a black marker. Cut out from this circle 2 inches on all sides using the carpet knife. Set the burlap cloth down in the bucket over the hardware cloth. Tuck the 2-inch excess down around the sides of the hardware cloth. By doing this, the burlap edges will wick water from the reservoir up into the soil to water the plant. The crimped side of the hardware cloth needs to be facing the hole. This will allow you to water easier.
Planting the Potato
- 1). Place 2 inches of garden soil on top of the burlap.
- 2). Set a seed potato on top of this soil. Remove all sprouts except for three to four of the largest ones. Ensure these sprouts point up toward the top of the bucket.
- 3). Cover the potato with 3 to 4 inches of gardening soil. Set the bucket where you want to grow the potatoes and fill the bottom of the bucket with water. Just point a garden hose into the hole in the bottom and fill it until water flows out. Check the reservoir in three to six hours and top it off.
- 4). Add more soil as the plant grows. Leave only 2 to 3 inches of the plant growth sticking out of the soil at any given time. Once the plant growth reaches the top of the bucket, stop adding soil and let it grow and bloom. Keep the plant watered at the base of the bucket. Harvest the potatoes after the plant growth dies by dumping the contents of the bucket into a wheelbarrow and picking out the potatoes.