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Potato Planter Bags

The garden is coming along nicely, and it's time to start the potatoes. We grew some last year, but didn't get a large crop. Charlie bought some "potato bags" to plant in this year, to keep them contained and have space for them to grow upwards.

Bags

Potatoes don’t grow like other garden plants. Seed potatoes are planted in fairly shallow soil, then more soil is added as the plant grows up. The potatoes grow off the roots and stem of the plant, under the dirt. Because of their weird growth style, people will often plant them in buckets or bags. That way, as the plant grows, it’s easy to add more soil. Deeper soil = more potatoes.

Charlie ordered the bags online, and when they arrived I thought, "I could have made those!" The first thing I noticed was that they were made of material very similar to our feed bags. I’ve already had practice making feed bag totes, and I figured I could put my stash to good use. Because I have a lot of them …

feed bags

I was a little worried they may not be big enough, but when I compared them to the potato bags, they’re actually quite a bit bigger.

Both

What you need:

  • Empty 50-pound feed bag – the kind that is made of a sort of woven plastic-y material

  • Heavy duty thread

  • Heavy material needle

  • Scissors or rotary cutter

The first step is to cut the bottom off the bag.

Prep

Turn the bag inside out, smooth it out, and stitch across the bottom. I used a double seam to make it stronger. The seams are at 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch from the edge.

Bottom Seam 

This next step can be a little tricky, and it’s hard to explain. Hopefully, the photo helps. Fold the bottom corners so that the bottom seam lines up with the crease down the side. The bags measure 20 inches across, so I am going to make my corner seam 5 inches from the corner.

Again, I did a double seam for strength. The black line is at my 5-inch measurement, then the two seams are 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch from that line.

Corners

While you’re at the machine, fold over the top edge 2 1/2 inches and stitch it down. I only say 2 1/2 inches because I didn’t want to fold the chick’s head in half, you can fold it over as much as you want. But 2 1/2 inches seems to work well. No need to double stitch here.

Top

Charlie said handles would be helpful. The bags he purchased had little straps sewn onto the sides, which promptly broke the first time he tried to move the bags with soil in them. Along the piece I just folded over, I drew a line 4 inches across, on each side of the bag. Feed bags have a fairly sharp seam down each side, so it’s really easy to figure out where to place the line.

Handle Line

Now, I basically made a giant buttonhole. I had to redo this a couple of times because I tried to use my machine’s buttonhole setting, and it wasn’t big enough. With the machine set to a zig-zag stitch, just go around your line, with the edge of the presser foot running alongside the line. I wanted the stitching to go continuously around the line, for no other reason than I wanted it that way. Since I couldn’t turn the bag to go up the other side of the line, I put the machine in reverse and backed it up the line. (So, in the photograph, I sewed down the right side, across the bottom, then backed up the left side, turning again to go across the top.)

handle

Back to the cutting table. Cut the corners off the bottom, and cut along the line inside the “giant buttonhole” to create the handle.

Cut corner  handle cut

Last step, cut some little holes in the bottom for drainage. The store-bought version has little round holes, but my little diamond shapes were easier to cut out.

drainage

Ta da! Bags to plant potatoes in! They’re a little taller and even a little sturdier than the store-bought bags. Charlie’s excited because now we have a place to plant even more different kinds of potatoes. I guess I’ll be making a few more bags.

Complete