How to Grow Potatoes in a Barrel

Potatoes are one of the best survival foods you can grow. They are caloric and starchy, and will keep for a long time if stored correctly. You can grow herbs and vegetables all day, but nothing will sustain you like potatoes, and they require little space and maintenance to grow.

Fortunately, wherever you live, you can actually grow them relatively easily in a container, which makes them a great option for sustainable survival food that you can keep producing as time goes on. Here’s how:

Choosing a container

You will first need to acquire a container to grow your potatoes in. A classic wooden barrel is perfect, if you can get one, but any large container will do, if it has holes in it for drainage, or that you can easily drill holes in. If you are recycling an old container, make sure to clean it first with a very mild bleach solution.

Plant your potatoes 

You can buy potato sprouts from your local nursery, or sprout them yourself from a potato. We’ll do a follow-up post on how to do this, but you can also look it up yourself and may even remember it from high school science class; it’s not difficult to do.

Once you have your potato sprouts and are ready to plant in your clean container of choice, you’ll want to fill the bottom 6″ of your container with a loose, peat moss-like potting soil and compost. You don’t want compact soil at all, as the potato will need plenty of drainage. Next, plant your potatoes and cover with more loose soil.

Add soil

As the shoots grow, add soil. So, for example, when you have a good six inches of leaves above the soil, cover the exposed stems about 1/3 to halfway up. Repeat the process as your potatoes go to fully maximize the space in your container.


Once your potato plants start to flower, or after about ten weeks, you can harvest your potatoes. You can check to see if they’re ready to harvest by digging your hands in the first few inches of soil; of there are potatoes there, you’re good to keep digging!


Growing potatoes in containers is easy and efficient, and a great way to keep your survival stash active and sustainable. Just make sure to keep sprouting potatoes so you can keep up your food production.

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