Growing potatoes in a potato barrel or bag is so easy because they are contained. When you grow them in the open ground there is little control over where they send their roots, and the constant need to earth up the new growth can be awkward, especially if your space is in the midst of other crops. Growing them in containers means you can simply add in new compost and easily place them away from your other plants.
Usually mid-March is about the best time to plant your earlies and you plant the maincrop a few weeks later.
You will need:-
- A potato bag, pot or container - like ours here
- Some seed potatoes - which you can buy with a planter or separately
- Some good purpose compost- which you can buy with a planter or separately
- Make sure there are drainage holes in your chosen container
- Line the bottom of the bag or container with some drainage material such as small stones, broken pots or even roughly broken pieces of expanded polystyrene.
- Put about 6 inches (15cm) of compost on top of your chosen drainage material.
- Sprinkle on some good general purpose organic vegetable fertiliser (as per product instructions).
- Depending on the size of your container place two or three seed potatoes, spaced out equally and about 6 inches (15cm) in from the edge of the container.
- Cover the potatoes with about 4 inches (10 cm) of good compost.
- Put another two or three potatoes on top of this layer and cover with another 4 inches of compost and water well.
- Place in a sheltered sunny location.
As the shoots sprout and poke up through the compost add a couple more inches of compost. Continue this process until your container is nearly full (always leave an inch (2.5cm) at the top to allow for watering). Remember potatoes are thirsty plants and the most common problem with container grown potatoes is to let the compost dry out by lack of watering.
Over the next few weeks and months the potato plants will grow and mature and it is often helpful to stake up the plants to give them a bit of support.
When the flowers have faded and the plant died back is the time to harvest. Although excellent if smaller potatoes can, of course, be harvested earlier if you prefer. Similarly if you want larger potatoes just leave them in for a couple more weeks.
Once you have harvested your potatoes use the compost to as an excellent top dressing for your vegetable patch or flower beds. It is not good to use the same compost for another crop of potatoes as this can lead to problems with potato diseases.
If you plant up several different bags in succession, moving them into a cool greenhouse before the first frost, you can harvest your potatoes for most of the year. In fact you can even have your own Christmas potatoes.
If you enjoy growing your own vegetables and making the most out of your garden, visit our Grow Your Own category, which has everything you require to get started!