Growing potatoes in patio planters or containers is easy and there are relatively few pitfalls. Children especially love growing vegetables in containers close to the house because it makes is easy for them to help with the watering and watch each stage of the plants development.
You will need:
Planting Bag– the Potato Planter is ideal with a height of 50cm and drainage holes
Compost – a good general purpose compost or soil mixed with compost or manure
Fertiliser – such as the Organic Potato Fertilizer
Seed Potatoes – buy fresh seed potatoes from a reputable supplier as these will be guaranteed virus free. Avoid varieties described as main crop or ones which produce stolon type roots which need more space than a pot can provide.
The potato tubers needed to be chitted (sprouted) to speed up growth. Put the tubers on a tray in a light unheated room out of direct sunlight. Place them so that the side with the most eyes is face upwards. It should take about 6 weeks for them to sprout to about 2” of 5 cm in length. Chitting should start by the end of March at the latest although you can start as early as January if the weather is not too cold.
If using a Potato Planter, add a few large stones or bricks to aid stability and then add gravel, broken pot or polystyrene to aid drainage.
Add your compost or soil to around 30 cm from the top. Place 4 to 6 tubers on top of the compost. Less for varieties described as producing high yields and more for standard varieties.
Cover the tubers with more compost leaving about a 15 cm space at the top of the potato planter.
Water well if the compost is dry. If the compost is damp, wait until shoots appear or the compost is looking dry before watering.
Your pot should be in a bright but sheltered spot.
Earthing up stops light reaching the tubers. Light on the tubers will turn them green. When your young potato shoots reach about 15cm or 6” tall, add an extra 10 cm or 4” of soil/compost on the top. Keep doing this so as the plants grow. Some leaves need to continue showing to absorb the sunlight but do not worry about covering a few leaves up.
Plants grown in containers do dry out more than plants grown in open ground but, nevertheless, you may not need to water your potatoes until the tubers are about marble size and start to swell. This is likely to be around the time that the plants flower but not all varieties flower so scrape back a bit of soil from time to time to check.
Over watering can end up with black or hollow centres and potatoes which are irregularly watered can become knobbly.
Use your Organic Potato Fertiliser or a liquid feed such a tomato fertiliser.
Scrape away a bit of the soil to check the size of the potatoes. Leaving them to become very large can increase the risk of damage by slugs or disease so it is not advisable to allow them to become very large. When they are ready to eat, take them out of the container and leave in the sun to dry for a few hours before storing them in paper bags or boxes.
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