If you have ever tasted home-grown potatoes, you’ll know there is a huge difference in taste between those and what you buy in the shops. Flowery, delicious new potatoes with a knob of butter and a pinch of salt…YUM! They are full of Vitamin C too. Many people think you need oceans of space for potatoes, but they are actually really flexible and will grow just about anywhere. A friend of mine emailed me today to get instructions for planting potatoes in a container, so I thought I would share it with you too. This is a great project for children as they are so easy to grow, require a bit of topping up and watering and what kid would turn down a bowl of creamy mashed potato?
Potatoes in bags and containers
There are many container options, a potato bag which can be bought at your local garden centre for around €3.50, pots of various sizes can be used, a compost bag which was opened at the top, a barrel or even old tyres, which can be stacked as the potatoes grow. What size? Imagine a 75 litre compost bag, well around that size will take 3 potatoes. Select a ‘first early’ or ‘second early’ variety to get a quicker crop.
1. Make sure there are drainage holes
2. Put 4 inch multi-purpose compost/topsoil in the container.
3. Place three potatoes, eyes up, equally spaced apart, on the compost/soil
4. Cover potatoes with 3inch soil/compost
5. Water well and leave outdoors.
You must water well as I have heard many complaints about the bag/container drying out at the bottom, which will result in poor yields. On the other hand, you must have good drainage so that the potatoes do not rot. After a few weeks you will see the shoots appear. Once they are 2-3inches high (these will look like leafy plants), cover them with compost again. Repeat the process until the bin is almost full with soil. The plant will grow on, flower and eventually die back. At this stage, empty the container and hopefully you will have a crop of about 30 spuds!
Potatoes are traditionally grown in drills, but if you don’t have your ground already cultivated, then this can be an arduous task. An altogether tidier way of planting your potatoes, when starting on lawn or grass, is to make a lazy bed. Unlike the name suggests, it does require a bit of elbow grease, but two people could plant a dozen potatoes in a row in a half hour. Here’s how…(see photos below also)
- On either side, using a timber board, mark a line 9in out from the outer side of the compost/manure
- Make sure the potatoes are covered
- If making more than one row, repeat the process, forming ridge after ridge
- The pathways, which result between each drill, can be used to earth up the potatoes.
- Water in and label