High Yield Potato Barrel

Please make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, because I am planning on doing a lot of potato barrels/ towers this summer!

From the research I have done, I have found that mid to late season do better growing in a tower method. Early season potatoes like Yukon gold only produce once and won’t produce roots up the stem.

Last year I believe I planted Red Lasoda but then it may be Chieftains. I will find out which ones getting a higher yield because I bought all the mid to late seasoned seed potatoes I could find. So stay tuned, and don’t forget to like Moms Simple Life on Facebook for more updates to what I’m doing!

I started looking for gardening methods and found the Mittleider Method. I used the same 6 laws of plant growth (I have also done a post on all 6 laws) they mention in “The Mittleider Gardening Course” book. Even though barrels are not used with this method, I wanted to try to see if this would work since most of the YouTube videos failed. Plus it was something fun for the kids to grow.

What I used:

(1) 35 Gal. Barrel –

I cut the top off using a Sawzall, drilled 1/2 in holes down the side of the barrel for air circulation, and 2″ holes drilled on the bottom for better drainage.

75% sawdust and 25% sand-IMG_3180

This is my custom soil mix, this allows for great air circulation and water drainage. Its light weight compared to traditional soil, so this will allow more potatoes to grow and expand.


I used pre plant fertilizer (measure the height of your soil in the barrel and times it by the width) and weekly feed described in the Mittleider course book. About once a month I added a little bit of  21-00-00 which is ammonium sulfate which adds a small amount  acid and nitrogen that help tomatoes and potatoes to grow. Without acid and nitrogen potatoes will be small or non-existent. To get this high yield you’ll need to use pre plant fertilizer, weekly feed and 21-00-00(very small amounts).

To stop the custom soil mix from falling out of the bottom of the barrel, I lined the bottom with some news paper. Then I added 5″ of the custom soil mix and some pre plant fertilizer mixed in. The I planted 1Lb of  certified red potatoes seeds I bought from a co -op. The cost was .98 cents for the seed potatoes in which I picked out the small seed potatoes to have 3-4 to plant but yet keep it at 1Lb. I covered the outside of the barrel with outdoor plastic curtains to keep the sun out. If you want you can also pant it a dark color to keep the sun out. Sun exposure on potatoes will cause them to turn green, green potatoes contain a toxic chemical called solanine which is unhealthy and toxic to consume.


When the plants started to grow above the soil mix I added the weekly feed to the top and watered it in.

I waited for the plants to be about 6-8″ before adding more soil mix.  Cover most of the plant and allowed 2-4″ of plant to stick out.

Keep doing this until you reach the top of the barrel. Don’t forget to continue to fertilize your barrel with the weekly feed once a week. Also about 1/2 cup 21-00-00 once a month, don’t over fertilize! Plants are just like humans and we don’t take more vitamins than what the label says, so please don’t over fertilize thinking your plants will be more healthier.

Watering is very important to keep it on a regular timer if possible. We used a small round sprinkler upside down on low, had it on a timer to water once a day for 1 minute.

These are the 2 types of water timers I use, I love them and highly recommend them to make your gardening experience more pleasant.

red potatoes

This is our 19.4lb red potato harvest!

potatoThe plant will grow over your potato barrel, which this is ok. Some people tie it back, but I just let it go. When the plant dies completely or before the first frost, cut off the plants and let the potatoes sit in the barrel a few days to help the skin harden. Set out a tarp when you are ready and just dump it over. The kids will have so much fun digging out the potatoes like a treasure hunt. But remember, “If its green, it has to go!”

After digging up your red potatoes time to “cured” for storage. Curing toughens up a potato’s skin and extends its storage life. Lay your potatoes out on newspaper or cardboard in a well-ventilated place that’s cool (50 to 60 degrees F.) and dark. In two weeks, the skins will have toughened up. After they have toughen, rub off any dirt clumps (potatoes should never be washed before storage) and pull out any damaged potatoes, which should be eaten, not stored.

We harvested 19.4Lbs of red Potatoes using the Mittleider method and a Potato Barrel.

To see the Potato Barrel Harvest and our 19x yield, join us on YouTube:


  • Chris Butler says:

    Greetings! The yield is fantastic! How did you determine the quantities for the pre plant fertilizer and the weekly feed fertilizer?

    Thanks for a great video and write-up!

    Chris in Fort Worth

    • mezzy says:

      I used 4 linear feet of pre plant fertilizer and weekly feed. About ONCE a month I would add 21-00-00 and a little more pre plant fertilizer on top of the weekly feed. When the soil mix reached the top I would use a little more weekly feed(6 linear feet) trying to make sure it would reach the bottom of the barrel. I fertilized it like it was a tomato plant, I read somewhere that potatoes and tomatoes need the same type of fertilizer. I put the potato barrel on an automatic watering system to water for 1 min a day from a sprinkler. I think scheduled watering helped too.

  • anon says:

    Is that 75% sawdust to 25 % sand by weight or volume? Thanks and love your video!

    • Melissa Martinez says:

      By volume(ex. 3 buckets of sawdust: 1 bucket of sand), this Spring we will be making more videos on how we made our potato Barrel. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel so you can get the notice when new videos are published.

  • The Danville Devisor says:

    I’m not familiar with the term “4 linear feet of pre plant fertilizer”. What is pre plant fertilizer and how do you measure 4 linear feet? Forgive this as I’m very new to gardening. I’ve made 2 barrels this year. I’m doing one with saw dust/sand and the other with soil. Had some great success with my hydroponics setup last year and learned a lot so this is an extension of my gardening.

    • Melissa Martinez says:

      Check out my new video explaining more of what I did. https://youtu.be/a8VPBGyzI_o I am using the Mittleider Method which is like a poor mans hydroponics. All the nutrients that the plant needs come from the fertilizer, just like hydroponics. Check out my other article on the 6 laws of plant growth that includes a video going more in depth on what the pre plant fertilizer is and the weekly feed. I measure it based on the full height of the barrel times 1.5 when it is full. But when you start out I would just use 2-3 feet of fertilizer. If your into hydroponic you should check out the Mittleider Method, I think you’ll love it. Its easy to use and follow with huge results. I hope this helped. Just make sure you use the right type of potatoes.

  • ninabarlow says:

    I have a strange question where did you get the saw dust? Is it expensive

    • Melissa Martinez says:

      I buy mine from pacific top soil, it cost about $28/yard and it filled my truck. but you would need less than that for a barrel. probably 1/4 of a yard. Sand is pretty cheap too. I first went to a lumber yard and asked them who supplies there lumber, then went to the lumber mills and asked if I can buy some sawdust, they said no they sell it to Pacific Top Soil, so then I went there and bought a bunch. I mix 75% sawdust and 25% sand and have left overs usually to continue to top off the barrel. I hope that helps! You can join our Moms simple Life Group on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/765429346853820/ You can add your pictures of your setup over there so we can all see your progress. Thank you for commenting and happy gardening!

  • Devarajan says:

    Very informative

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