A step by step guide to growing potatoes in containers
Growing Potatoes in Containers
Why should I be growing my own potatoes?
Potatoes can be so cheap to buy, so why bother growing potatoes? One reason is taste, they’re far tastier, full of flavour and not to be missed. Another reason is to try a different variety. The shops stock a limited range and often bag them without even telling you what variety you are buying. As a result, even if you liked it, you couldn't guarantee to get it again. Go to your Garden Centre and your eyes will be opened to all the varieties of seed potato available. The best reason for me though is the plant itself. Far from being a dull and functional plant, it has lush green foliage and delicate white or pink flower. One of the prettiest flowers in the garden and loved by pollinators so winning on all levels.
What are the different types of seed potato?
There are three sorts of potatoes based on when you plant and harvest them: First Earlies, Earlies and Maincrop. The titles are self-explanatory; basically the First Earlies are 'new' potatoes, small potatoes harvested as early as June followed by Earlies and Main Crop which produce larger potatoes later in the season.
Plant in Garden
Plant in Containers
Late Feb / Early March
Early/ Mid April
Late March/ Early April
What is potato chitting?
As soon as you buy your seed potatoes lay them out on a tray or in open egg boxes in a cool, dry, light position to allow them to sprout. This is known as chitting.
Believe it or not there is a 'right' way up for potatoes. The 'rose' end or the end with the most eyes and dimples should be placed uppermost.
When to Plant Chitted Potatoes
The debate is ongoing as to whether chitting is needed at all though, so I doubt getting them the wrong way up at this stage will have a significant effect. The chits take about 4 to 6 weeks to grow. However you may find that your seed potatoes have started chitting before you buy them. They are ready to plant when the chits are about 1" (3cm) long.
On early potatoes, rub off the weakest shoots, leaving three per tuber. To ensure that you don't get a glut of potatoes you may wish to chit enough for one planter (3 or 4) leave it 7 to 10 days and chit a second batch etc etc so that your potatoes are planted and harvested over a period rather than all being ready at the same time. To make potato growing easy our Potato Planters come in a pack of 3 so you can do the bags one at a time to achieve this easily.
Can you grow potatoes in containers?
It is super easy to grow potatoes in containers, more so that growing directly in the ground as you don’t need to dig or prepare and soil.
A Potato Planter is a planting bag made from tough, green woven polyethylene. It comes complete with drainage holes and with handles on both sides for easy movement. The planters stand 45cm high and hold approximately 40 litres of compost. They have been designed for use on patios and balconies, or in small gardens where there is no space for growing vegetables. The re-usable planters come in packs of three. On the reverse of the pack, there are detailed instructions on how to grow and harvest your potatoes.
How to plant potatoes in containers
Firstly, do not fill your potato planters with compost.
Pour about 5-10cm of good multipurpose compost into the bottom. Place your seed potatoes (3 or 4 per planter) onto the soil making sure that your chits are facing upwards. Cover with a further 5-10cm of compost, water and wait!
How to earth up potatoes grown in containers
Earthing is the next stage and basically means covering your growing potato plants in earth. It feels like the wrong thing to do but trust us it works.
In Containers, earthing up couldn't be easier. Wait until the shoots have reached 10cm then pour more soil into the planter until the tips of the plants are just covered. Keep the soil moist and repeat this process of covering the shoots as they grow.
Main-crop potatoes benefit from a nitrogenous fertiliser around the time of the second earthing up. The bag will be full by the time you are finished.
How to harvest potatoes grown in containers
Early potatoes take between 12-15 weeks to mature and main crop take about 20 weeks. Once they have finished flowering and the leaves start to die back your
potatoes are probably ready to harvest.
To check if your potatoes are ready you can delve into the bag with your hand and find a potato. Rub the skin with your finger and if it comes off easily, they are probably not ready yet and need a little longer. Once you are sure they are ready you can harvest by simply turning the bag upside down on a plastic sheet, into a wheelbarrow or a corner of the patio. Shake the soil from the roots and you will see the potatoes which you can gently remove.
How to cure and store potatoes
It is best to harvest on a sunny day; brush off excess soil and then leave the potatoes out in the sun for a minimum of 2 hours, but preferably 2 days. Let them sit in temperatures of 7-16C (45 to 60 F) for about two weeks. This will give the skins time to harden and minor injuries to seal. they will then store longer & cook without disintegrating. Store your cured potatoes at about 4 C (40 F) in a dark place. A jute Veg Sack is ideal for this and will keep out the light that would turn them green and make them poisonous. Top tip: pick the Veg Sack when you get your seed potatoes and you can use it to store your shop bought potatoes until your own crop is ready.
We hope you found that useful - why not add to your container garden with some carrots? Check out this blog How to Grow Carrots in Planters for more veg growing inspiration
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