Many years ago we grew potatoes in a DIY pallet container and I’ve been asked a lot since how it all turned out.
Reasons to use pallets for a potato container
Pallets are readily available and a free source of building material which is why there’s been a trend of re-purposed pallet projects.
There is mixed information online however in terms of whether or not pallets are safe to use because they are often treated with a chemical (Methal Bromide) to kill insects.
If they’ve been chemically treated they will be stamped MB. Other times they are heat treated and will be stamped HT. Make sure you check your pallets and choose HT stamped ones.
The idea with growing potatoes in large containers is that as the plant grows you keep adding soil and mulch to increase the depth thus the yield. Does this work? It depends on a couple of things.
Mistakes not to make
When we grew our potatoes in these re-purposed pallet containers there were a few things that we did wrong so we didn’t get the yield expected. We were newbie gardeners back then (this was our 2nd garden!) and I believe that following the tips below will make the pallet potato container a success instead of just ‘so-so’ for yields.
Tips for growing potatoes in pallets.
- Choose potato varieties that are late season not early. Increased depth and yield will only work if your crops can grow to a tall size. Early potatoes, and even some mid-season potato varieties (determinate) don’t grow very tall like the late season (indeterminate potatoes) do. We made the mistake of using an early season potato and thus our container didn’t yield much at all and there was wasted space.
- Make sure you use good soil and compost. If you have poor soil your plants can’t grow well.
- Don’t cover the plants too much. As the crops grow you want to keep mulching with more soil, compost and straw but make sure you don’t cover all the plant matter as it needs sunshine to keep growing. We mulched one pallet with wood chips instead of soil and that one failed compared to the straw mulched container, so I’d also recommend not using wood chips.
- Make sure your pallet containers get enough sunshine. There are a lot of potato tower designs that you add wooden boards while the plant grows to allow for adequate light. The pallets can block sunlight so make sure it’s situated in the right place.
I would grow potatoes in pallet containers again and not make the same mistakes that we did the first time around as I am curious to know if the yield is higher with the increased depth.