Step 17: Hydroponic potatoes!

Hydroponics isn't just for above ground plants, with a bit of creativity (and a good hydroponics book!!), you can find ways to plant pretty much anything without dirt.

Potatoes can be started from any potato with eyes.
You can even start from a small slice of a potato, as long as it has an eye to start a root from.

Ideally you will want to get a seed potato from your local nursery, as it will be disease free and healthy.
I was a bit impatient however, and just grabbed a potato from the cupboard!

The plan here, is to plant the potato at the bottom of the bin, and as it grows, add more medium around the plant. (look at the second, badly drawn picture!)
This will give us more potatoes, and let us grow vertically.

One very important note here, don't let any potatoes grow uncovered. Uncovered potatoes will go green, and green potatoes are poisonous!!

Start by lining the bottom of the bin with some clay balls, this will allow the water to drain better.

Place the potato in the centre and cover with a 50/50 perlite & vermiculite mix and put in the drip ring.

Now, being so deep down in the bin, it would help if we could direct some more light into the area.

One of the best ways to reflect the light that plants like, is to use a reflective material called Mylar.

Mylar in rolls for hydroponics is a bit expensive, thankfully it isn't just for hydroponics, you will find it on shiny balloons, and chip packets!

Having a big multi-pack available, I cut it open, and stuck it into place.
So shiny!!
daliad1004 years ago
I really want to design something with stackable sections that can somehow can have the bottom potatoes harvested, the bottom section removed and placed on the top then the entire tower dropped down making a conveyor belt of potatoey goodness.

NathanWilliams (author)  daliad1004 years ago
I like the idea!

I was at one point wondering if I could use a worm farm for this by cutting out the base of each layer. (like this: http://www.canterbury.nsw.gov.au/resources/images/worm_farm.jpg)
Unfortunately those things are expensive, so when I finally got one I used it as a worm farm!

If you figure it out, please post it up, I would love to see it!
Just had a potential idea that could make your idea for the Potatonater?, Tower of Potatoey DOOOOM!!!?, other Potato related name? easier to work and possibly cheaper after seeing a milk crate at work.

A set of stacking boxes with holes smaller than the growth medium in the bottom and solid sides should end up with an easily removable layer of potatoes if you can devise a way of moving a very heavy stack of crates.

Some sort of winch or jack that has a travel of the box height + a couple of inches should suffice to allow the bottom drawer to be removed and the rest of the tower lowered to the ground. Don't know how this lifting mechanism will connect to the boxes but I can't make it too easy for everyone ;)
NathanWilliams (author)  daliad1003 years ago
I love it!
Milk creates with some sort of wall would be easy, and if you could hinge one of the side walls, you might even be able to put your hand in to just pull potatoes out without moving it at all!

You could have a perpetual potato plant that you never have to replant!
bountycrops4 years ago
I finally found a helpful post that can teach me to grow the finest potatoes in hydro! Thanks for taking the time to post this one. :) I just want to ask what light cycle do you recommend for the vegetative stage?
NathanWilliams (author)  bountycrops4 years ago
Thanks for the nice comment, it was a good way to kick off my day!

As for light cycles, I only know what I have read, as I used sunlight for this project.
From what I understand, the vegetive stage should be between 18 and 24 hours preferably for most growth.
When it comes to fruiting a 12 on & 12 off cycle is usually recommended and the dark period should be as dark as possible for best results.
(Light inhibits a certain hormone used during fruiting, so absolute darkness gives you the greatest amount of fruiting hormones)

That is general info for fruiting plants, I'm not sure how it works for a plant like potatoes though.

Good luck, and if things work out well I would love to see an instructable about it!
wvrent6 years ago
Maybe not at cheap as a potatoes bag, but I've used a mylar emergency blanket that I purchased for $1 at a bargain shop. I've also got one wrapping my seed shelf that I have for starting seedlings indoors.
DasBus6 years ago
Thank you! I've been wondering about hydroponic potatoes! Have you had a harvest yet?
kudoskun6 years ago
I dont believe I follow all of the potato growing information. When the potato begins a root system, are we trying to keep the root system covered along with the leafy growth, or everything covered? By the look of your 2 cup image, we just want to keep the stem / stalk of the leafy growth covered, but then wouldnt it grow indefinitely, and we would add enough substrate to fill the bin? Some clarification please. Thanks!