Wednesday 27 March 2019

Planting potatoes in containers

I expect many readers already know that I grow my potatoes in containers, not in my raised beds. This makes it easier to protect them from adverse weather (thus getting them off to an earlier start), and allows me to move them around if necessary. It also allows me to adjust the soil / compost mix to get the desired texture - potatoes like moisture-retentive soil, and often do badly if their soil is too dry.

My seed-tubers have been indoors on a light windowsill since I got them at the end of January, and they have developed some nice sturdy chits (shoots).

One day a few days ago the weather was mild and the wind was little more than a gentle breeze - a welcome change after a period of prolonged gales - so it seemed a good time to plant my first potatoes. As usual, the first part of this task involved preparing the containers and filling them with the growing-medium.

I use a mixture of roughly 50% garden soil and 50% homemade compost. The latter is composed entirely of "bulky organic matter" and serves to keep the mixture moist. Usually I add a handful of pelleted chicken manure to each pot, but this year I'm trying out some specialist potato fertiliser instead.

The potatoes I planted on this occasion were all First Early types: "Foremost", "Annabelle" and "Lady Christl". I'll plant the Second Early ones in about a couple of weeks.

My technique is to fill each container half-full with the soil/compost, gently push two potato tubers into the mix (chits pointing upwards), and then cover them over, though not too deeply. The tubers will be under about an inch or two of soil. Additional soil will be added once the shoots push up into the light.

An important part of the procedure is to add a label, so that I know which is which!

I have three pots each with two tubers of "Foremost", two pots with two of "Annabelle" and one pot with two of "Lady Christl". Because there is still a significant risk of frost the pots of "Foremost" have gone into my three upright 2-tier mini-greenhouses:

The others are in slightly larger (35L) pots - the ones in the foreground here (note white labels!):

These ones have the protection of one of my "Seedling Greenhouses", which each accommodate four of those big tubs.

Here it is with the cover zipped up:

I should perhaps mention that I have weighted-down all of the greenhouses with a number of bricks, to stop them being blown over, which is a significant risk.

If things go according to plan, these potatoes should be ready to harvest in early June - late May if I'm really lucky and the weather is good!


  1. We decided to plant our potatoes in containers the easy which was replicating the way we plant in the ground which is just use a trowel to make a hole and pop the potato in and hope so we’ll see whether that was just a big mistake.

  2. ohhh where did you get those lovely big black buckets with the 2 handles? They would be excellent in my garden

    1. Have a look on that well known internet auction site. I picked up some last year for £2.50 each.

  3. I got them from LBS Horticultural. They are very reasonably priced and come in lots of different sizes.

    1. I will have a look as I need some to sink into the garden as well as other items. Thanks

  4. Thank you for the tutorial Mark. I had no idea how long to let the eyes get in the chitting process.

  5. Also, next year I’m going to use egg cartons to hold the potatoes. It’ll keep them from rolling around and getting dirt everywhere. Brilliant.


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