in a container
Growing potatoes in a bag or old tyres (or tires), is space saving and a very easy way to grow everyone's favourite vegetable.
Potatoes are one of the Nightshade Plants, part of the Solanaceae family.
photo by k~owl on Flickr
You will need a hessian bag or potato growing bag for your container and some seed potatoes. You could also use old car tyres, hay bales, plastic garbage bins, or purchase a "Potato Planter". Have a look around and try to recycle something. Make sure your "container" has good drainage.
A note on using tyres - I'm not sure I'd class this as organic - does any chemical from the rubber leach into the soil? If you are going to use them - put a few drainage holes in each one so the soil in the rim of the tyre doesn't go stagnant. You can always grow flowers or ground covers in your tyres instead
Growing Potatoes in a container will dry out more quickly so you will need to ensure you don’t forget to water them. Too much water isn’t good either. As a guide, give them a good watering weekly during warmer summer weather.
Roll the bag down half way or if using tyres start with two.
Fill half the bag with soil. You'll need a deep, free-draining and rich soil so a mixture of soil and compost is ideal.
Purchase your Seed Potatoes:
"Potato, Yukon Gold 1 pack (10 mini tubers)"
"Potato, Russet Norkotah 1 Pack (10 mini tubers)"
"Potato, Cal White 1 Pack (10 mini tubers)"
"Potato, Red Lasoda 1 Pack (10 mini tubers)"
Bury two or three seed potatoes just below the surface of the soil, keeping the eyes facing up (the shoots grow from the eyes). Give the bag a good water and put it in a frost free spot. If you would like to have your potatoes shoot before planting them in the bag then about four weeks prior to planting place seed potatoes in a tray with the eyes up and leave in a light, frost-free spot to shoot. Plant when the shoots are about 2cm long.
Roll the plastic bag up a few inches as the potatoes start to grow. If using tyres, add another tyre.
When the shoots are 15-30cm tall, you can add more soil until the bag is completely full. This will encourage the potatoes to make more stems, and more potatoes, as well as stopping light reaching the potatoes that have already formed. Always have about 2 inches of foliage showing.
If your potatoes aren't covered they can get a green tinge. This means there are high level of glycoalkaloids which can cause food poisoning (not always but not worth the risk), so ensure there is enough soil to cover the potatoes and dispose of any that get the green tinge.
So how will you know when they're ready? They will take approximately 10 – 12 weeks. For new potatoes harvest when peas are ripe or as the plants begin to flower. For full size potatoes wait until the vines turn yellow or have died-back.
TIPS for Growing Potatoes:
Now it's time to eat them...
- Have two bags – one planted a month after the first one. You can choose an early variety for the first bag.
- Potatoes like to be rotated so don’t use the same soil two years in a row. Also, don’t plant potatoes where tomatoes were grown the year before.
- Choose seed potatoes the size of an egg.
- Make sure your seed potatoes are certified – this is to ensure they have no diseases.
- There are so many types of potatoes you may want to grow 4 or 5!
- Keep your Companion Planting in mind. Potatoes like: Beans, Cabbage, Horseraddish and Marigolds but don't like: Sunflowers, Cucumbers or Tomatoes
Now that your potatoes are ready to eat why not make a warm potato salad for summer bbq's (I cheat by using Paul Newman's Ranch Dressing) or make a delicious potato soup. Here are some Potato Soup Recipes you'll be sure to enjoy (the Potato and Leek soup is my all time favourite).
"What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow." A. A. Milne
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