You love baby new potatoes with butter and mint, or hanker after some wedges with garlic mayonnaise, or yearn for a big pile of mash to serve with your bangers. Whatever your potato fantasy, they’ll taste even better and fresher if they’re the result of your own endeavours. If you thought you couldn’t grow your own potatoes because of lack of space, time or energy, this might be the method that changes your mind.
Enough space even in a tiny garden
Potatoes usually take up a fair amount of space and may not fit into your edible garden. Even if you have a large area, you may not have the fertile, deep soil they need to thrive. But you can grow potatoes in a bag that will fit on a sunny balcony or in a paved courtyard, or you could have a row of them to edge your deck, ready at different times and including several varieties for salad, roasting or mashing.
Pushing over the tower of tyres
Many people like the idea of growing potatoes in a pile of old tyres, despite them being ugly, heavy and awkward to move. Each will easily swallow a wheelbarrow full of compost yet provide only the small central hole as a growing space. Instead, toss out your tyres and splash out on a large, 50-litre ‘PB95’ black plastic planter bag. It will set you back about $3, last many years and be a better place to grow your spuds.
Rich soil for rich rewards
Growing potatoes in a bag allows you to choose your growing medium. Home-made compost is ideal, even if it has a few lumps and sticks in it. Well-rotted horse manure also works well, or you can buy a big bag of compost. Start with a 15cm layer at the bottom of the bag, add two or three seed potatoes, then cover with another 15cm of compost. Buy the potatoes from the garden centre or use ones you’ve bought to eat if you prefer. Once the shoots have grown up, keep adding layers of compost around them until the bag is full. Always allow some of the leaves to remain exposed. Water the bag well weekly if you don’t get any rain. Otherwise, leave it in a sunny spot as sheltered as possible from the wind.
Your harvest has matured when the leaves die down, and will yield about 3kg from each bag (if you can’t bear to wait, have a sneaky dig around after three months to see how things are growing).Tipping up your bag will reveal a buried treasure trove of tubers. You will get neither a sore back nor ‘feral’ potatoes reappearing year after year among your other vegetables. And you’ll barely need to wash your crop.
You can start growing potatoes in August if you don’t get a frost. Plant them by the beginning of October and you’ll be eating a few for Christmas dinner; replant your bag on Boxing Day and you’ll be eating another crop at Easter.
Bag yourself some potatoes and enjoy the taste of some delicious home-grown goodness with no digging required.