Can You Plant Sweet Potatoes in a 5 Gallon Bucket?
Sweet Potatoes are a tasty root vegetable that can be prepared in a number of different ways including the Southern favorite sweet potato pie!
For those beginner container gardeners who love this vegetable, the question is, can you grow sweet potatoes in a 5 gallon bucket?
The good news is that while growing sweet potatoes in a 5-gallon bucket will limit the number of potatoes you produce it can definitely be accomplished.
This article answers many general questions that beginner growers want to ask.
- What Vegetables Can You Plant in 5 Gallon Buckets?
- Can You Grow Cucumbers in 5 Gallon Buckets?
- Can I Grow Zucchini in a 5 Gallon Bucket?
Why Grow Sweet Potatoes in a 5-Gallon Bucket?
There are several reasons why you may want to consider growing sweet potatoes in a 5-gallon bucket.
First of all is the fact that sweet potatoes need a lot of light and a warm climate to grow and this takes anywhere from 90 to 170 days.
There are some areas where the climate and the weather simply won’t allow you to grow sweet potatoes out of doors and 5-gallon buckets will allow you to grow these potatoes indoors where you can regulate the temperature and the amount of light per day your crop will get.
Five gallon buckets are also deep enough to allow the roots of your sweet potatoes to grow and the buckets are wide enough to allow your small crop of potatoes to form and grow.
In addition, when you grow sweet potatoes in a 5 gallon bucket, you can place your plants outside on warm sunny days and bring them indoors during cooler or less sunny days.
Also when you grow sweet potatoes in a bucket or other containers indoors you can actually grow 2 or 3 crops per year.
How Many Sweet Potatoes Can I Plant Per 5-Gallon Bucket?
The roots of your sweet potatoes need a lot of room to grow, so experts advise planting only 1 slip of sweet potato per 5-gallon bucket. However, keep in mind that one slip will result in between 5 and 10 potatoes at harvest time.
In addition, you can plant such plants as scallions or herbs around the outside edge of each bucket, giving you additional produce in this small contained space.
If you have a child who wants to try their hands at gardening, one bucket may be perfect for their first effort.
However, if you are growing this vegetable to feed a family you may want to grow 4 or 5 buckets of potatoes to give you a decent amount of this sweet tasting vegetable.
What to Consider Before Growing Sweet Potatoes in 5 Gallon Buckets?
Sweet potato is not the easiest vegetable to grow for novices. So there is a lot of things you will want to consider before deciding if growing sweet potatoes in a bucket is for you.
Here are just a few things you will want to consider.
How Many Potatoes You Want to Grow
First, you will need to decide how many potatoes you want to grow. This will determine whether or not 5-gallon buckets make sense or whether you should consider a larger container.
You will next have to ask yourself whether or not you have enough space for the number of buckets you will need to use.
This is especially important if you are growing sweet potatoes in your home or on a patio where space may be extremely limited.
Sweet potatoes require a great deal of light to grow properly. At a minimum, they will need 6 hours of light per day, but 8 to 10 hours are better.
If you live in an area that gets a lot of cloudy or rainy days, you will have to substitute artificial light for sunlight. You need to consider how you plan to supply the amount of light your crop will need.
If you live in an area where the days are cool even in summer you may want to consider how you will regulate the temperature so that your potatoes can grow in a warm enough temperature.
This may mean you will need to grow your potatoes indoors at least part of the time.
Things You Need to Grow Sweet Potatoes in 5-Gallon Buckets
Before you actually start growing your sweet potatoes you are going to have to gather together everything you need to grow and harvest a successful crop.
Here is a look at some of the items you will need to grow your sweet potatoes in a bucket.
- 5-Gallon Buckets – You’ll need to collect the number of 5-gallon buckets you will need to grow your crop. There are a number of places you can purchase these buckets. You can also get this size bucket for free by asking the owners of your local bakery or restaurant if they have any buckets that they don’t want or use.
- Lights – If you are planning on growing your sweet potatoes indoors either part of full time, then you are going to need an artificial light. Most beginner growers choose to use compact fluorescent lights since they are cheap and readily available.
- Drainage Material – You will need drainage material for the bottom of your 5-gallon buckets. You can use gravel or the lighter weight bark nuggets.
- Growing Medium – You will also need a phosphorous rich growing medium and fertilizer for your plants to grow in.
- Sweet Potato Slips – You will also need sweet potato slips to plant in your bucket since this is how you start your potatoes growing. You can purchase your slips or grow your own from an organic sweet potato.
How to Grow Your Own Sweet Potato Slips
You can grow sweet potato slips in either water or soil. One sweet potato can grow up to 15 slips.
When growing sweet potato slips in soil you need to poke holes in a tinfoil pan and fill with seedless soil mixture.
You then need to take an organic sweet potato you have purchased from the store and bury it lengthwise in the soil. Bury the bottom ½ of the potato and then keep the soil moist and in a warm place until the potato sprouts.
When growing sweet potato slips in water you will need a whole potato and a jar filled with room temperature water. Submerge the small tapered end of the potato into the water adding more water as needed. Slips will grow out of the top of the potato.
Once the spouts have formed, gently remove them from the potato and then remove the bottom leaves from the sprout. Place the sprout in warm water (adding water as needed) and sit in a sunny window or use a grow light.
When the roots of the sprout are about 4 inches long then it is time to plant your slips. It will take 3-4 weeks for the entire process.
Planting and Growing Your Sweet Potatoes in 5 Gallon Buckets
Before planting your sweet potato slips you need to prepare your 5 gallon buckets.
The first thing you need to do is drill holes in the bottom and bottom sides of each bucket. Next, fill the bottom of the bucket with drainage material.
Then fill your bucket ½ to 2/3 full of growing medium, then place your slip in the center of the bucket and cover with 3 more inches of soil.
Maintain temperatures (don’t allow the soil temperature to fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit) and make sure your plants get 8 to 10 hours of light per day.
After 100 days or so your sweet potatoes should be ready for harvest.
Curing Your Sweet Potatoes
If you plan on eating your sweet potatoes within a couple of days of harvesting, you don’t need to cure your potatoes. However, curing your sweet potatoes can allow them to last for at least a year.
If you live in an extremely warm and humid climate you may be able to cure your potatoes out of doors. However, for everyone else curing them indoors is the best bet.
To do this, your sweet potatoes will need to be placed in a room where temperatures can be maintained at 80 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity needs to remain high for 2 weeks. This may require the use of a heater and humidifier set on high.
Can I Grow Sweet Potatoes in a 5 Gallon Bucket? Conclusion
Growing sweet potatoes in 5-gallon buckets may take some effort and time, but the results may be well worth the trouble when you get to enjoy the fruits or in this case the vegetables of your labor.