If you are looking for a simple, inexpensive, and labor-free way to grow potatoes, then potato crates are the answer!

potato crates
One of our potato crates growing strong last year.

Over the past few years, we have switched to growing our entire potato crop (traditional and sweet potatoes), in homemade potato crates. I honestly can say it is one of the best gardening decisions we have ever made. From planting, maintaining to harvest, it couldn’t be more simple.  (See : A Harvest Beyond Belief)

If you have ever grown potatoes in traditional rows – you know firsthand how difficult it can be.

First, there is the tilling up and digging of the rows. Next comes planting. And then the real work begins! Constant hoeing and raking rows to keep the soil hilled up over the growing spuds. That doesn’t even cover the weeding chores!

It can be tough work for sure, especially when it comes time to dig and harvest. Not only is digging potatoes from rows labor-intensive, its easy to damage the crop as you uncover. But all of those tedious chores and issues are a thing of the past with potato crates.

The Ease Of Using Potato Crates

Creating A Potato Crate

You can create homemade crates out of inexpensive framing lumber, scrap wood or even pallets. They certainly don’t have to be fancy or expensive to work. We created our first few crates from 2 x 4’s and pallet boards for a few dollars each. They are still going strong today.

potato crates
You can make your crates easily from a variety of inexpensive materials, Here we used 2 x 4’s and pallet wood.

Our homemade crates are 36″ long x 24″wide x 18″ high with open ends on the top and bottom. We started by making two rectangles from the 2 x 4’s that were 36″x 24″. Next, we attached 2.5″ wide x 18″ long wooden slats (pallet boards) to the top and bottom to form an open-ended crate.

We spaced slats roughly 2″ apart to help keep our soil mixture in place. You could also use chicken wire or mesh in place of the slats. All that is needed is something to keep the soil in place.

Planting The Crates

We sit our crates in the back edge of our garden, right on top of the soil.

Next, we place a few inches of our light homemade soil mixture to fill the bottom. We make our mix from equal parts straw, shredded leaves, compost and garden soil. This light soil works wonders in letting the potatoes grow without struggle.

We start by planting our seed potatoes or sweet potato slips in the bottom layer of soil, making sure the seed potatoes or slips are covered by at least and inch of soil. We plant about 5 pounds of seed in each crate. It takes a total of about 5 minutes to plant each crate. As the plants grow, you simply add soil up to the top inch of the plants. Continue this until the plants have reached the top of the crate, and then you can stop.

Straight garden soil can be used, but the lighter mix is easy to work with. It also makes harvesting much easier. As for what we plant – we have found some varieties to work better than others. Yukon Gold does extremely well, as do. For sweet potatoes, Beauregard is our go-to choice. It performed incredibly well last year.

Seed Links :   Yukon Gold  /  Red, White & Blue Mix Potatoes

Harvesting The Crates

potato crates
Potato crates make growing potatoes a breeze!

Harvesting is easiest part of all! Simply tip over the crate and sort through the soil to reveal the potatoes. There is no stabbing or ruining of potatoes with a pitchfork. Just easy harvesting!

We usually get somewhere between 25 to 30 pounds of potatoes from each crate. Last year, one of our sweet potato crates grew so well we had nearly 50 pounds from one crate. One thing is for sure, we will never grow our potatoes any other way!

Here is to growing a great crop of potatoes this year! Jim and Mary. To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up for our free email list. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.

19 thoughts on “Potato Crates – How To Grow Your Best Potato / Sweet Potato Crop Ever!

  • February 19, 2018 at 9:51 am
    Permalink

    Question, when you mention adding soil until the plants reach the top of the crate how high are you taking the actual soil in the crate? If adding soil as the plants get 1″-2″ above do you add soil all the way to the top, half way?
    Thanks,

  • February 19, 2018 at 7:19 am
    Permalink

    I’m thinking of acquiring crates that green beans come in at the grocery store. They usually just throw them out, but I think they might work in this application. Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas!

  • February 18, 2018 at 6:13 pm
    Permalink

    I have tried this idea but with little success.(I live in Victoria Australia) Because the plants seem to grow at different speed I seem to be covering them up before all the plants have shot (,grown) EXAMPLE. If you can imagin 20 seed potatoes the first 2 pop through then another one .By the time 3/4more start to grow the first few are quite big in the growth the next few are a little smaller .And quite a few have not shot .How can i get them to grow at a more uniform rate.I like your sight not sure if iam 6 months ahead or 6 dehind.it is great because it gives me time to plan ahead regards CLIVE.

  • February 18, 2018 at 12:56 pm
    Permalink

    I am for sure going to build a couple of these for this year’s garden. I love potatoes, but last year we had so much rain, that the potatoes either rotted in the ground or had so much mud on them when we harvested, that it was a big mess! So willing to try an easier way.

    Can’t wait to get your book! Amazon notified me it will be ready to ship this week.

  • February 18, 2018 at 9:56 am
    Permalink

    Hi Jim and Mary! Thank you for your ideas. I tried planting in crates last year. I had two of them, and planted some Pontiac reds, some Yukon gold, and some Russets. I did harvest a few, but my problem was voles. I laid down a plastic on top of the soil, then a piece of plastic Sheeting and a piece of rat wire the size of the crate on the bottom. they started out beautifully and I continued to add the soil and straw. Then one day I noticed that some of the plants were dying. I did harvest a few potatoes, but most of them had been taken by the Voles. Would you have any suggestions as to how to combat this situation?

    Thanks so much for sharing.
    Sherry

    • February 18, 2018 at 10:04 am
      Permalink

      Sherry – so sorry to hear about the voles! Have your tried hardware cloth on the bottom of your crates? That should help to keep them out.

      • February 18, 2018 at 1:55 pm
        Permalink

        Thank you so much for your response! I will look into purchasing some hardware cloth, and will see how that works. I love growing potatoes in bens like this. Great idea! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    • February 18, 2018 at 10:47 am
      Permalink

      Sherry, don’t know if this possible for you but we had gophers last year & our Jack Russell had the best summer of his life! Any of the small terriers love hunting varmints like mice, voles, etc. Be prepared for gross little gifts left on your doorstep tho. Lol

      • February 18, 2018 at 1:59 pm
        Permalink

        great idea about getting a Jack Russell or some other small terrier. I have heard they are the best for chasing away critters and digging for voles or moles, etc. One of my grandson’s got bit in the face by a Jack Russell when he was very young, and I have not had much a liking for them since. but thank you for your thoughtful idea, and for sharing! 🙂

  • February 18, 2018 at 9:54 am
    Permalink

    I love this method of growing potaties!!! I tried it last year and even though I had to cut short my growing season I had the best success. From 2 little crates, about 12×18, I had plenty of baby potatoes for several meals. I will try with bigger crates and sweet potatoes this year. Thanks for opening my eyes to a new method.

  • February 18, 2018 at 9:39 am
    Permalink

    I do not understand the planting process. Is it just one layer of seed with alittle soil on top? Do you add more soil as they grow??

    • February 18, 2018 at 10:52 am
      Permalink

      Ron – I added a bit more text to the article to better explain. But yes, just one layer of seed, and then continue adding soil as they grow, covering up to about an inch under the plants top leaves. Once your soil level gets to the top, you can then stop adding soil and let the potato plants grow out of the bin.

  • February 18, 2018 at 8:53 am
    Permalink

    How about build up instructions? Is it the normal covering of the plant growth until harvest or until it reaches the top of the bin? Thanks Wayne

    • February 18, 2018 at 10:06 am
      Permalink

      Wayne – yes, we just continue the soil up to the top of the crate and then stop. In theory, you could add another crate and keep going – but this works more than well enough to harvest enough potatoes.

      • February 18, 2018 at 10:43 am
        Permalink

        I have a build-up question also–once the plants start developing, do you just cover all but the top few leaves? Any watering? If there isn’t enough rain, do you just overhead water? Thanks! I’ve tried this and haven’t had much luck but want to try again!

        • February 18, 2018 at 10:49 am
          Permalink

          Good question Sue – and I actually just went back to the article and added a few sentences to better explain. Just continue adding soil every week or so as they grow. As you add your soil mix, keep it to about an inch under the top of the growing plants. Then stop when the soil level reaches the top.

          • February 18, 2018 at 12:11 pm
            Permalink

            Thank you!

  • February 18, 2018 at 7:54 am
    Permalink

    No mention made of fertilizer???

    • February 18, 2018 at 9:02 am
      Permalink

      Tina – we don’t really need to fertilize them with the soil mix, especially because we mix in compost to the mix which provides plenty of power to the plants. If you wanted to, you could apply a compost tea if your soil mix was not fertile enough. Hope that helps! Jim

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: