Harvest Monday, April 20, 2015 – Growing Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes in Containers + Garden Overwintered Root Crops

My daughter, Kathy, grew vegetables for the first time last year and had bountiful harvest. So pleased with her success she is enthusiastically looking forward to this new gardening season even installed grow lights and started some veggies and flowers seedlings.

Last year she grew napa cabbage, bok choy, different varieties of tomatoes, Swiss chard,  cucumber, beans, leeks, onions, celeriac, parsnips, pepper, etc. There was also asparagus (started by my son-in-law few years ago, prior to last year he was the veggie gardener and Kathy was the flower gardener).

Couple weeks ago she mentioned that her neighbor is planning to grow potatoes and I sensed she would like to give it a try. Since I have grown potatoes successfully in container in the past, I offered to start potatoes in a container for her as she lacks garden space but has a nice sunny patio.

While shopping at Home Depot came across some 6.87 gallons multi-purpose bins, just the size I was looking for, very sturdy and better yet has 2 handles and cost only $4.88 each, the only problem there is no drain hole. However using a utility knife I was able to solve the problem, needed a bit of force to cut through the plastic to make the 4 drain holes but it was doable.

growing potatoes in container (07368)

Potatoes: All Blue, Adirondack Red & Adirondack Blue

I filled ¼ of the bin with a mixture of pro-mix, well composted cow manure, peat moss (potatoes prefer a low pH, 4.8-5.5) and organic granular fertilizer.

I placed on the surface an All Blue, an Adirondack Red and an Adirondack Blue potato.

To see cross sections of the above potatoes click HERE and scroll down.

growing potatoes in container (07373)I covered the potatoes with the same mixture, watered well and placed the bin on the driveway where it is warm and sunny.

As you can see from the first photo all 3 potatoes are sprouting. I will hill the plants as they grow so when my daughter comes to get the plants in a few weeks the bin will most likely be filled to near the top and all she needs to do is keep the plants well water. Potatoes need plentiful consistent moisture.

Click HERE for Cornell University Potatoes Growing Guide.

While I was at it, decided to push my luck and ask if she would like to grow a purple sweet potato in a container as well. Surprisingly she said “yes”.

growing purple sweet potato in container (07374)

Purple Sweet Potato

I filled the bin with the same potting mix as the potatoes and placed 0ne (1) sweet potato slip in the middle then watered well. Also placed this bin on the driveway.

Our nighttime temperature is still too cold to leave the sweet potato plant outside so I will bring the bin into the garage at night and take it out during the day (the 2 handles make the job so much easier).

End of May is when I transplant my sweet potatoes into the garden.

Thinking: Planting the sweet potato slip in April in container and bringing the plant into the garage at night for protection will this extra time result in a better yield?

My daughter is a very organized and methodical individual she will most likely take notes and photos and give me progress reports of both the sweet potato and the potatoes. I will definitely give you an update about this experiment in a future post later in the year.

∗ ∗ ∗

End of last year I decided to leave some of my root crops in the garden and mulch heavily to see how they would fare through the winter.

overwintered parsnips (07363)

Garden Overwintered Parsnips

The parsnips fared very well, all were in good usable condition. Harvest 7+ pounds. Shared with family and friends.

I braised a couple of them in broth to serve as a side, had a slightly sweet flavor and the texture was good not woody at all.

overwintered root crop (07401)

Portion of the Garden Overwintered Leeks, Golden Beets, Celeriac & Lutz Beets

All the golden beets overwintered well. Harvest about 2 pounds, they are small, about the size of a golf ball. In the fridge for later use.

A few of the celeriac and lutz beets had soft spots at the leaf end so I discarded those. Boiled until tender a couple of the lutz beets, peeled, sliced and made a pickle with rice vinegar, a bit of salt and a bit of sugar, simple but good. May make borscht with the two remaining ones.

Haven’t used the celeriac yet may be this week, all 5 are in the fridge.

The leeks fared pretty well. The green parts on a few were a bit mushy but the white parts were good and firm and usable. Used the above 2 in a stew. There are still 5 good looking ones and a few not so good looking ones in the garden.

Will dig them up this week as I need the bed for my Swiss chard.

∗ ∗ ∗

Yay! Spring has finally arrived and hopefully here to stay.

hellebores (07414)


hellebores (07413)


The hellebores, though late in arriving this year, are gorgeous, I have white ones and various shades of pink ones.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   … Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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41 Responses to Harvest Monday, April 20, 2015 – Growing Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes in Containers + Garden Overwintered Root Crops

  1. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says:

    I’m really surprised at how well the overwintering fared considering the shocker of a winter you had. I look forward to not only your garden reports but Kathy’s as well.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Maureen,
      I was surprised too, didn’t think anything survived. But precisely because of the frigid weather the snow never had a chance to thaw and acted as an insulator like a blanket protecting the roots.

  2. Angie@Angie's Recipes says:

    I really would love to grow some parsnips. They taste so GOOD after roasting.

  3. Karen says:

    Good looking crop. I’ve tried overwintering in the past but unfortunately voles got to everything.

  4. daphnegould says:

    It will be interesting to see if the purple sweet potato gives you a much better harvest or if it isn’t worth the work of dragging the pot back and forth. Purple is such a wonderful variety. Sadly I only have two left in my stores (not counting the ones I’m using for slips) but one of those is just huge.

  5. Clearly the apple didn’t fall far from the tree Norma. How lovely your daughter is so adept at gardening and growing veggies just like you.
    Looking forward to all the updates.
    Have a beautiful week ahead.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Mandy,
      I was thrilled when she decided last year to venture into growing vegetables I start some seedlings for her so she does not feel overwhelmed. A beautiful week to you too.

  6. Lou Murray says:

    Yum, over-wintered parsnips. I’ll bet they are sweet. Thanks for showing how easy it is to grow potatoes in a container. I have grown blue, golden and Prince Edward potatoes in containers, as well as yams. That reminds me, I have some golden potatoes that need to be dug out-an easy job with container potatoes.

  7. actually i’m more expecting the leaves instead the root ….

  8. Those 6.87 gallon bins look a bit like the Tubtrugs I use for so many gardening chores. that was a good price for a container that big. And those hellebores are beautiful!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Dave,
      The bins were on special, should go back to HD and get a few more if they still have them at that price.
      Those hellebores were in the shady part of my property the ones in a more sunny location do not look as lovely.

  9. mac says:

    Your overwinter roots look so good, I should try again later this year. I’m growing potatoes in growbag now, will try to grow sweet potatoes in bags later, will see how well they do.

  10. Linda says:

    What a fascinating and educational post, Norma! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  11. Liz Berg says:

    I don’t have much sun in my yard, so I really need to explore container gardens 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. dvelten says:

    Your overwintered roots are amazing, nothing survived here. I tried potatoes in a 5 gal. bucket with holes drilled in the bottom. Not enough drainage, the bucket filled with water after a rain and everything rotted. If I try again, it will probably be with a grow bag.

  13. Ms. Norma, I hope spring is here to stay. If it isn’t I will be pretty disappointed lol. And your roots look really good. Glad to see winter didn’t destroy anything for your garden 🙂

  14. Cecilia says:

    I like your tips and your photos are just amazing. I wish I could have such a green thumb. Thanks for sharing.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Cecilia,
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Glad you enjoy my post, I am sure you could grow things if you have the time and space.

  15. hotlyspiced says:

    It’s lovely to see you’ve emerged from the snow. How fantastic that Kathy is full of enthusiasm after a very successful first season as a gardener. Impressed with those plastic buckets being used to grow potatoes xx

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Charlie,
      Yes, we have emerged from the snow and had a few nice days unfortunately the night time temp for this whole week will be in the 30’s, way below for this time of year. hoping next week will be normal.

  16. Finally Spring is here! I can’t believe anything survived after the winter you have had. It must be all the love and care you give your plants. I love roasted parsnips!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Bam,
      Spring came and seems to have gone away again, it was winter like today there were even a few snowflakes and night time temp for the whole week will be in the 30’s, not happy. Roasted parsnips sure are delicious.

  17. Juliana says:

    Yay…Spring is here…I love your overwintered roots…all shape and colors…
    After seeing all your posts, I decided to grow vegetables in containers…on my roof top…hopefully I get some nice ones to show 😉
    Enjoy your week Norma 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Juliana,
      Glad to learn you are going to have container garden on your roof top looking forward to seeing your crops. You may want to looking into getting feet for your container, it will help with drainage. I saw an ad from Ocean City Job Lot (do you have one where you are?) mentioning feet for container for sale. Have a great weekend.

  18. Eva Taylor says:

    Your wintered veggies look so lovely, I always wish I had more of a green thumb after visiting your lovely blog Norma. I’ve been making leek broth lately (after reading about it in “French women don’t get fat”), they use the leeks more or less as a diuretic to help lose weight and I’m not sure it works but to be honest, it’s down right delicious! I usually boil the entire leek (even the dark green bits) in a few litres of water until the leeks turn to mush and most of the flavour has been transferred to the water. Strain and enjoy. Sometimes I purée the leeks into another soup but most of the flavour is in the water so it’s not as good.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eva,
      They were delicious too 🙂 I had no idea leek is a diuretic, learned something new, thanks. This weather is driving me crazy, can you believe we had snow flurries on Thursday and Friday? Could be easily missed but still … A friend of mine driving home on 84 Friday was in a snow squall for 10 minutes.

  19. shenANNAgans says:

    I’m such a gardening novice, this post was super interesting. Thanks heaps, Norma.

  20. Pingback: Harvest Monday, November 16, 2015 – Growing Sweet Potatoes In Container Update | Garden to Wok

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