Mashed, boiled, frilled or roasted potatoes are without a doubt one of my favourite vegetables. As May rolled around so did the abundance of Seed Potatoes in many of the garden nurseries and one Saturday I just couldn’t say no anymore – and bought myself a pack.
That was 6 weeks ago and boy have I hit the jackpot.
I’ve watched a quick video and talked to a few ‘experienced’ potato growers but besides that I was on my own. Living in an apartment gives you very little room to grow things like potatoes, but that’s where the beauty of pots come in handy. Growing potatoes in containers can actually help you out later on, as the tubers start to sprout its a clear indicator as to where your little tatties are hiding in the soil below.
After buying your box of seed potatoes cut each of them up into 2-4 chunks, if you’ve got a teeny tiny one just plant it as is. In the one box, I had about 15 potatoes so once you’ve chopped them up you’ll have plenty of bits and pieces to go around. In your pot its best to make sure you have a good layer of drainage or plenty of holes to allow the water to drain through accordingly, potatoes love water but not a soggy bottom.
I am using a 300mm pot, which (a) is definitely not big enough for all of my cut up tatties and (b) will take a few more steps before I can harvest them all.
The first thing I did was fill my pot a quarter full with soil and a handful of Horticultural Charcoal (to make the soil a little bit sweeter), added in half of my cuttings and repeat. Now there are two layers of potato chunks spread throughout two layers of soil filling up half of my pot. After a good initial watering I leave them to germinate and grow (well hopefully).
After two weeks nothing has happened, now this is normal. I’m still watering them and the pot is getting the full winter sun of the morning. It can take anywhere between 70-90 days (and sometimes 120) before you start to see little green shoots pop up. But this time I’ve given them a good drink of some liquid Seasol mixture. When using pots I always think you don’t need to add fertiliser straight away (hence to addition of the charcoal), its best to see how your seeds take to the soil and minimise the chemicals you’re adding into the ground – especially when it comes to an edible garden.
Flash forward another month and bam you’ve got tubers in all sizes showing up. And now its onto stage 2 which means doing another round of Seasol and filling up the rest of the pot with soil – so now its full.
When and how to harvest is always a good question. You want to aim to harvest your potatoes once the tubers have spouted out of the ground and (1) once the flowers have appeared and turned yellow or (2) if your super impatient (like me) and want to harvest them before the flowers you can wait until the stems turn yellow. Then stop watering them for a week before digging them out.
To dig them out the easiest way is to tip the entire container out onto a tarp and go through the soil to find your little potatoes (or as my partner likes to call them, my babies). Clean them off and leave them for two weeks to cure – this will help the potatoes cuts and bruises to heal. Make sure they have plenty of air circulation and are stored in a cool dark place, any exposure to light for too long will turn the tubers green and poisonous.
Stay tuned for the grand finale in a few weeks time when I can harvest them all and surround my self in carbohydrate goodness.