For the very earliest new potatoes
Potatoes in containers can finally get started! And it’s great to ‘grow your own’ again!
Whilst I’m sure that the keenest veg gardeners have already got lettuce, broad beans, peas and onions already under- way planting potatoes is the real beginning!
Potatoes in Containers – which variety?
It makes sense to grow only the earliest varieties in containers.
But also to grow those that are going to taste the very best too!
We all have our favourites and on this we may not agree!
But I do find that Rocket is very fast and early but the flavour is perhaps rather subtle.
Traditionalist will go for Arran Pilot and they are certainly good. However this variety is not the very earliest.
Pentland Javelin produces solid slightly waxy tubers and again doesn’t produce that ‘first to market’ performance.
Foremost and Duke of York will please those who prefer a floury new potato. But I find that most of them will end up this way if you over boil them!
If you can get them, International Kidney has great flavour! It produces plenty of tubers and sooner than any other. On the Channel Isles this variety is known as Jersey Royal. But on the mainland of Britain ‘International Kidney’ is the name that this variety has to be sold as!
Growing potatoes in containers
You don’t need many seed tubers to do this.
But I’ve found that you do need good compost and also a large container to make it worthwhile.
The widely available plasticized bags are fine for this and really good value. With care they can be reused for several years. You might even grow tomatoes, peppers or courgettes in them after harvesting your spuds!
Three or four seed tubers per bag are enough.
Compost for potatoes in containers
Naturally the compost you use will have a big bearing on the outcome!
I’m afraid that you can’t expect to get a good crop if you use ordinary garden soil!
Most potting composts are excellent but the cheapest ones will also have the cheapest ingredients and that can lead to very disappointing results.
You should aim to grow in an organic peat free compost.
Ensure that the container is about a third full of compost before spacing out the tubers.
Then cover them with approximately 10 cm of more compost.
You will need to add more compost as the shoots emerge and until you get to within 5-10 cm of the top.
Potatoes are produced on the stems above the seed tubers that you plant so it is in this topped up compost that the delicious new potatoes grow.
Growing them on
If you have a well lit warm place to grow them, so much the better.
But if space gets tight in your greenhouse, the bags can be moved outside to a sheltered place. I’ll warn you that the tops of potatoes are very sensitive to frost and will need protection.
You’ll need to water them regularly but there’s no need to add extra feed if your compost is good.
Your container grown potatoes are very unlikely to be attacked by late potato blight. This is especially true of the earliest varieties grown outside and harvested very early.
Late blight disease sweeps in from the West on the damp warm winds most years.
To avoid it affecting your main crop regularly spraying for protection is widely practiced.
Bordeaux Mixture has been use for more than 100 years to protect potatoes and other crops from diseases. At the time of writing this it is no longer available to amateur gardeners and there doesn’t appear to be a good alternative.
Naturally growing varieties with inherent late blight resistance is the best thing to do.
Slugs may take a liking to your tubers so watch out for them and remove them promptly!
Other than this there are few other problems. But it is hard to resist taking a peep to see if your tubers are ready!
When the tops start to turn yellow it is a good indication that they are ready to harvest.
Which ones do you grow and find the tastiest?
Do you grow early spuds in an unconventional way?
There’s more I’ve written on growing early potatoes here.
And even more here
If you need more help in choosing varieties see what I have to say about right here!
You can watch a video of me planting potatoes in containers on Candide Gardening but you’ll need to download this excellent and free app before it will run.