This year was my first time growing potatoes in containers. I used old coal sacks and they were waterproof and strong enough to keep the potatoes and soil together, but any decent sized containers will do.
GROWING POTATOES IN OLD SACKS.
You can happily start growing potatoes in any suitable containers you have on hand. You don’t have to buy them, repurposing is great and the potatoes don’t mind what they grow in. I have a friend who lives in the city and he has a very small concrete back yard. He grows potatoes in an old plastic rubbish bin. He makes a few holes in the bottom of the bin for drainage and just adds another few shovels full of soil as the potatoes grow.
My friend started off growing potatoes in containers to teach his son about gardening and growing vegetables. (Believe me kids find this much more interesting than growing radish – although you can stick a handful of radish seeds on top if you want something to grow fast while you wait for the potatoes.)
It is now one of their regular activities together and when their enthusiasm for growing their own exceeded the boundaries of their little yard, they branched out, (sorry about the pun I couldn’t resist) and got an allotment.
By the way, before we moved here we were renting and gardening was difficult so we used to rent an allotment. I would definitely recommend it. They are really child-friendly places too. If you start teaching your children to garden early – they’ll grow to really dig gardening. (oops did it again, sorry couldn’t stop myself.)
Check with your local council, or community centre but also check out the small ads. That’s how I found mine – a farmer was advertising one of his fields for use as allotments. He provided water and free manure from his own horses – at a quarter of the price the council were charging.
Allotments are great places to start growing because you will meet other more experienced growers there. Gardeners are exceptionally generous and friendly people so there is no shortage of advice and support.
Allotments are also great places to swap produce at harvest time when you can trade gluts with other growers. Anyway, back to potatoes.
Each old coal sack has so far yielded about a stone each of tiny but tasty potatoes. They are the British Queens variety – one of my favourites as they are so very floury and full of flavour.
GROW POTATOES IN CONTAINERS or GROW THEM CONVENTIONALLY?
The yield and size would have been much greater and the individual potato bigger had I planted them in soil as they would have had more ground to spread their roots. I also should have nourished the soil in the coal sacks a bit more. I might have been quicker at doing this had I planted in the conventional way. Oh and being able to walk without crutches would have helped too – this was my main reason for growing my potatoes in containers as I do have plenty of garden to plant in – I was recovering from an accident and couldn’t walk at the time so gardening in a small area and into containers suited me perfectly.
Growing potatoes in containers has one major advantage over planting into the ground and that is digging. Digging is okay but it is nice when you can get away with not doing it and it can be very hard work in our rocky garden.
You don’t have to dig to start growing potatoes in containers and you don’t have to dig to get them out. You just tip the bags onto a wheelbarrow – rake through the soil with your fingers and there they are!
For more about growing potatoes click here.
For more about how to grow vegetables click here.