Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow in containers.
The potato originated in the Andean region of South America. It was introduced to Europe by the Spanish explorer, Francisco de Orellana, in 1537.
The history of potatoes in the United Kingdom is linked with that of Ireland.
The Irish had grown the crop since about 1630 and then brought it to Glasgow when they migrated there for work. It is thought that potatoes were not widely eaten until after 1740-1750.
Whether you’re just getting started with gardening or you’re an experienced gardener, this article will provide some helpful information on how to successfully grow potatoes in containers.
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Table of Contents
When and where to grow potatoes
The best time to plant potatoes in containers is early spring from late March to early April after the last ground frost. One advantage of container potatoes is that you can always move the pots to a frost-free position, inside or into a greenhouse if you do get a late unexpected frost.
Potatoes prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade. The best place to grow them is against a south-facing wall as this provides at least six hours of bright light each day.
Potato container, pots or bags
Potatoes may be grown in any size container, I would suggest something around 40 litres. Obviously, the choices are endless at your local garden centre but an old dustbin or even tyres stacked on top of each other or a grow bag, potato bag will suffice but be careful as these can suffer from scorching in the sun.
Whatever you use for a container, make sure it has good drainage. If it doesn’t come with drainage, add some by creating drainage holes in the bottom.
Guide to planting your first potatoes in containers
Step 1. Prepare your potting soil
To grow potatoes successfully use high-quality potting soil that drains fast, consider adding organic, slow-release fertilizer like chicken pellets or fish emulsion which can be topped up every couple of weeks. Feel free to bulk up your compost mix with garden soil if the quality is good.
Step 2. Add your potting soil to the container
Add additional drainage material, such as rocks or broken up polystyrene, to the bottom of your container before filling it with about 10cm (4in) of compost.
Step 3. Prepare your potatoes
At this stage you have a few options; Some opt for planting the seed potatoes right away, while others allow them to sprout, a process known as ‘chitting’ before planting.
At this stage, it is worth saying that seed potatoes are different from the regular potatoes that you can buy from your local supermarket. Seed potatoes are usually found for sale at garden centres or online and often carry a certified label for growing while regular potatoes are often grown with sprout inhibitors.
The most common method used by professionals is to cut the seed potatoes into pieces, each with at least two eyes—growth nodules where shoots will emerge. Allow the sliced surfaces to “callus over” for a few days before planting.
Step 4. Add the potatoes to your container
Plant the prepared seed potato piece onto the soil surface, eye buds up, in a container with the same width as your growing area. The plants will grow to be quite large; make sure they have enough space to breathe. A 20-inch-wide container can accommodate four small seed potatoes.
After the seed potatoes have been set, cover them with a few inches of prepared potting soil. Don’t be too hasty because you don’t want to plant them too deeply. The ideal depth is 1 to 4 inches of soil. The colder the climate, the less dirt you should put on top.
Step 5. Water regularly
Keeping your soil wet, but not soggy, is one of the most important aspects of growing potatoes.
Check the container every day or so. If it feels dry, water it. If it’s incredibly hot or windy out, you may need to water your potato container gardens more than once a day. One of the most appealing aspects of container gardening is that you can easily tell when they’ve been adequately moistened. Simply keep an eye on for water to seep out of the container’s bottom to determine if they have enough water.
Step 6. Start to layer your potato pot
When your potato plants are about 6 inches tall, you must the process of “hilling”. This is done by putting a few inches of prepared dirt around your potato plant, covering the sprouting stems at the bottom. Take care not to harm the plants while doing so.
You’ll have to repeat this hilling procedure a few more times as your plants develop. Potato plants develop fast, so keep an eye on them and don’t let them get ahead of you.
Step 7. Harvesting potatoes
Time to reap the benefit of growing potatoes…You can start harvesting once the potato plants have flowered, although some people wait for the foliage to start dying. Reach down into the soil of your container and pluck out a few new potatoes at a time. You may collect all of the remaining potatoes in the late season when the plants grow yellow and die back. The easiest method to do this is to turn the container over, dumping it onto the ground.
Warning Green potatoes contain a chemical called solanine, which is slightly toxic. Potatoes with green skins should be discarded or trimmed before consumption to avoid ingesting this substance.
Step 8. Storing your potato Harvest
Brush away the debris, then let them dry for a few days. For extended storage keep them in baskets or paper bags to allow them to breathe.
Best planting potatoes to grow in containers
Potato varieties are classified according to when you plant and harvest them: first earlies, second earlies, and maincrop.
First Early potatoes, also known as “new” potatoes because they are the first to appear in June and July. Recommended varieties: ‘Red Duke of York’, ‘Lady Christl’, ‘Orla’ and ‘Rocket’.
Second earlies also called ‘new’ potatoes take a few more weeks to mature. They are ready from July. Recommended varieties: ‘Charlotte’, ‘Maris Peer’, ‘Ratte’
Maincrop can be harvested from late August to October when they have fully matured. They are good for baking, roasting, and mashing and can be stored for a few months after being harvested. Recommended varieties: ‘Pink Fir Apple’, ‘Desiree’, ‘Cara’, ‘Maris Piper’, ‘King Edward’, ‘Sarpo Mira’
There are an abundance of vegetables and plants that can be grown in containers in this article we have discussed our favourite we hope you have found this interesting