Grow potatoes in containers
Potatoes are among the cheapest and most versatile of veges. They're also very easy and rewarding to grow. Where space is limited, you can grow them in a bag. Pot up a few now to have delicious, garden-fresh, new potatoes on the table for Christmas dinner! Here's how ...
- seed potatoes
- potato food
- potting mix
Practically any container will do, so long as it has adequate drainage holes. Certified Seed Potatoes purchased from your local garden centre are essential. These are guaranteed to be true to type, free of disease and more vigorous than old spuds which have sprouted in the kitchen vege bin! Fresh general purpose potting mix for potting up and potato fertiliser are also recommended for best results.
- Choose early crop potato varieties which take about 3 months to mature.
- Chit (or sprout) seed potatoes by placing them in a tray in a warm room for 2-3 weeks.
- Place potato planters in a sunny, sheltered, frost-free spot. Roll the top of bags down and fill with potting mix to 10cm deep.
- Plant 3 - 5 seed potatoes in each bag, evenly spaced and with their sprouts facing up. Cover over with 10cm of potting mix.
- Feed with potato fertiliser. Potatoes are gross feeders, responding to well fertilised soil. In the garden, no further fertiliser is required, but as nutrient leaches quickly from containers, it's a good idea to repeat fertiliser application once a month until flowering to maintain healthy, vigorous growth.
- Water to moisten potting mix, but not soak it! In the event of high rainfall, cover over the container to prevent it getting excessively wet and rotting seed potatoes.
- Earth up with potting mix once shoots reach 15cm high, leaving about 5cm of stems exposed. Roll up the sides of the bag as necessary.
- Repeat the earthing up process until the potting mix is at the top of the planter.
- Harvest new potatoes 3 - 4 weeks after flowering begins and once lower leaves turn yellow. Simply tip the whole planter up-side down and pick out your new spuds.
- Blight (black patches on leaves): spray with copper at first sign.
- Soil nematodes: plant in fresh potting mix in bags (or rotate crops in the garden).
- Potato Tuber Moth: earth-up to cover tubers and prevent potato tuber moth reaching tubers.
- Green tubers: earth-up to prevent sunlight turning tubers green, which renders them toxic and inedible.
- Aphids: squash with fingers or spray with soapy water or an organic insecticide.
- Tomato-potato psyllid: the best defense is a fine mesh secured over the crop, or use a recommended spray such as Yates Success.