Potato container growing


This is an ideal way to grow potatoes for those who have a limited amount of space, or simply want a small amount of vegetables early in the season when the price in the shops is still high.  The crops produced tend to be greater than those for similar varieties grown in open ground and have the advantage of being easy to keep frost and disease free.


Choose large flowerpots or plastic buckets at least 45cm (18 inches)  deep and 30cm (12 inches) across.  Plants DO NOT need “earthing up” so the tubers  should simply be planted straight into the pots about 15cm (6 inches) deep.  Two potatoes per pot is enough.  Any more will simply result in less yield per plant.


Any commercial multipurpose- type compost is suitable.  Do not be tempted to use all or part garden soil as this brings with it the risk of unwanted pests, diseases and weeds.


Initially pots can be kept in a frost free shed or garage until the leaves poke through the soil, then they will need a light but sheltered situation.  Often a cool greenhouse or against a house wall is enough, provided you are prepared to protect them if frost is forecast.  In dry spells, water the pots regularly, but do not get them too wet as water-logging can be as much of a problem as drought.  Once the plants are growing well, feed weekly with a general purpose liquid feed - tomato fertilizer of similar is ideal.


First Early varieties will be ready in about 12 weeks, with Second and Main Crops taking a little longer.  Pots can simply be tipped to one side and the larger tubers harvested.  Return the plants to the pots and allow the remaining smaller potatoes to continue to develop.


The most popular and useful potatoes to grow in pots are early and salad varieties.  Of the First Earlies, SWIFT is quick to mature, disease resistant and has the advantage of shorter, more manageable foliage.  ACCENT, LADY CHRISTL, MARIS BARD AND DUKE OF YORK are all good, but almost all First Earlies can be used.  For salad potatoes CHARLOTTE, NICOLA, BELLE DE FONTENAY, MARIS PEER, CARLINGFORD, RATTE AND ANYA  are all excellent.  


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