Did you hear about the potatoes in a pot?
Potatoes might seem difficult for someone starting out on the growing adventure but they’re not that difficult at all.
You might think that to grow potatoes you need a lot of space but this is not the case. You can grow potatoes in pots, sacks, bags, tyres – indeed, in ah sorts of containers – and in all sorts of places too, including small backyards, patios, balconies, and even on top of a barge.
The minimum size realistically for a container should be 30cm deep and 30cm in diameter.
WHAT TO BUY
To grow potatoes you will need to buy ‘seed’ potatoes (‘tubers’) which are available online or from garden centres. There are many varieties of potato but they can be broken down int11 three categories. ‘First early’ varieties take about 10 weeks to mature, ‘second early’ varieties take about 14 weeks, and ‘maincrop’ take 20 weeks.
Although you can grow maincrop in containers, it’s probably wiser to opt for a first early or second early variety which will give you ‘new’ potatoes in late spring/early summer. When you come to buy your seed potatoes the label will indicate whether they are first early, second early or maincrop, and also the name of the specific variety, such as ‘Home Guard’.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- Egg box or seed tray
- Seed potatoes
- Container (8 litres)
- Multi-purpose compost
WHEN TO GROW
You should plant first earlies towards the end of March, second earlies mid-April, and maincrop mid to late April.
PREPARING FOR PLANTING
Before planting it’s advisable to ‘chit’ your seed potatoes first. This only means supporting them to sprout (‘chitting’ means sprouting). When you look at your seed potatoes closely you may see they have small indentations known as ‘eyes’ and it really is that sprouts will grow. Chitting gives your potatoes results in an earlier harvest and a head start.
WATCH OUT FOR
FROST: If your potato haulms (the stems and foliage) are hit by frost they will blacken and turn mushy. H there is a risk of frost, either bring your containers inside or cover them with horticultural fleece or spare bubble wrap.
LEGGY SPROUTING: If your chitting seed potatoes start send up very spindly shoots it’s probably due to lack of light or the conditions are too warm.
VIRUSES: Potatoes can suffer from a range of these, where the leaves will curl and or where they will take on a mottled appearance. Look out for aphids which carry viruses and spray with an insecticide if needed.
“CHARLOTTE”: Creating yellow-skinned, waxy tubers, this is a second early variety that is popular.
This Really Is a well-regarded first early variety which produces egg-shaped-shaped tubers. Available as white-skinned or reddish-skinned.
“JAZZY”: A waxy second early variety which produces tons of little tubers.
“LADY CHRISTL”: This has pale yellow, smooth-skinned, oval tubers which are for, and ideal boiled salads.