Plant Container Potatoes
Image by Terry Guscott
If you have clay soil, no soil or very alkaline soil, then you probably have not had a good opportunity to grow potatoes.
An easy way to sneak around these obstacles is to plant your potato crop in a container. It may sound unusual, but root crops can easily be grown in containers as long as you provide proper growing conditions and a little loving care. The first step is to choose the right potato variety for your garden. Select ones that will mature at different times to ensure a harvest all season long. Look at their culinary uses (some are better for baking, others for mashing or frying), and if you are planning to store them, source out long-keeping varieties.
Potatoes can be planted from mid-March to late May; any later and they may not mature on time. The second step is to pick out your container. The container should be a minimum size of 45 centimetres both wide and deep and have very good drainage. Suitable containers may include large terra-cotta pots, old tree pots, bushel baskets or oak half-barrels (with extra holes drilled around the base).
Then follow these steps:
• Fill bottom of container with 10 centimetres of sterilized soil; add tubers (use 3-4 tubers per 45-centimetre-wide pot). Cover with 7.5 centimetres of soil.
• Water and place in afternoon or all-day sun.
• When tuber sprouts are 20 centimetres high, bury the sprouts in sterilized soil, leaving the top five centimetres exposed. Allow plants to grow to top of container before filling up container with soil.
• Water and feed regularly and allow your tubers to mature. Provide a deep daily watering; this will help prevent rot, skin problems and malformed potatoes. A weekly application of half-strength kelp fertilizer will keep the potatoes growing at a steady, healthy rate.
• Come late summer or early fall, when the top of the foliage turns yellow, cut it off and allow your potatoes to sit for three days without water. Then gently dump out the container contents and harvest.
• Store your potatoes in a cool, dry environment with little light. Do not store damaged, scabby or blemished potatoes; one bad potato spoils the bunch.
Potato Growing Tips
• Avoid using fresh manure, compost and lime. • Plant potatoes away from tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and peppers to reduce chances of wilt and blight.
• When you purchase your potatoes you are actually purchasing tubers, and each one is a package of its own. A healthy tuber will contain enough water and nutrients to help it get up and growing. The tuber may be planted whole or cut into egg-size pieces. When cutting, ensure that an "eye" remains with each piece, and allow cuts to heal for two days before planting. Keep them in a dry, low-lit area until ready to plant.
Potting Mix for Vegetable Containers
(Root Crops) To supply extra nutrition to your potatoes try this potting blend in your container. 1/2 bale sterilized potting mix, such as #1 mix 10 litres perlite 30 litres sand 250 mL worm castings 250 mL kelp meal 250 mL glacial rock dust 250 mL fish bone meal Mix all ingredients together and use to fill containers as instructed above.