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Growing Potatoes

How to grow potatoes in  containers,  garden beds and allotments

 

Potatoes

Family/Latin Name

Solanaceae - Solanum tuberosum

Type of Plant

Tuber - Crop Rotation Group =  Root

Suitable for

 

Large Containers, Tubs, Garden Beds, Allotments


Pests & Diseases    Companion Plants    In the Kitchen

See also:-  Vegetable Growing Glossary  |    Container Growing  | Buying Seeds & Plants

 

Plant Dimensions

Height Up to 60cm/24"  - Spread Up to 60cm/24" 

Time between planting and harvesting

16-22 weeks

Where to plant

Outdoors in open ground or in containers

Planting time

March- April  - temperature +10C/50F

How to plant

Most people buy "seed" potatoes. These are just small potatoes which have been certified as virus free. When you receive them usually in late January or February, set them with the rose "eyes" uppermost in a light frost-free place. They will begin to sprout in about 6 weeks. Once the sprouts are about 2cm/3/4" long (around March time) plant as below.

 

Open Ground - Plant the whole sprouted potato, sprouts up, about 12cm/5" deep and at least 30cm/12" apart in rows at least 60cm/2ft apart or in groups/blocks.

 

Containers - Best for growing small "new" potatoes. Use  containers at least 30cm/12" deep. Place a 10cm/4" layer of soil or compost in the bottom of the container then rest the sprouted potatoes (space as above) on top of the soil. Add enough soil/compost to cover them by 2.5cm/1" only.

See "growing on" below.

 

Potato Barrels/Tubs  - Place a 10cm/4" layer of soil or compost in the bottom of the container then rest the sprouted potatoes (space as above) on top of the soil. Add enough soil/compost to cover them by 2.5cm/1" only.

See "growing on" below.  

After Germination

Protect from frosts. Keep weeded.

Growing on -  in containers, barrels and tubs

Once the shoots emerge and have reached 15cm/6", add another 10cm/4" layer of soil/compost. Repeat to within 5cm/2" of the top of the container. Make sure you keep the tubers well covered with earth so they don't go green as this is poisonous. Keep watered. This method will give you a pot/barrel full of potatoes from base to top.

Growing on- in ground

Keep weed free.  Make sure you keep the tubers well covered with earth so they don't go green as this is poisonous. Water  well in dry weather. 

Aftercare

As above.

Harvesting

Early/New Potatoes -  Flowering usually indicates that potatoes have reached an edible size. Lift as required.

 

Maincrop - These can be lifted as required or left in the ground until the foliage has died back. They can then be lifted for storage. Never leave tubers in the ground: dig up and store all potatoes by placing in a wooden box in a dark frost free shed or garage where they will keep until the spring.

Pests and Diseases

Companion Plants

Mosaic Virus (carried by Aphids)
Indications Leaves distorted, yellowing and stunted sometimes leading to virus
Treatment Organic
1. Spray with soft soap
2. Use water through a hosepipe to knock the aphids off the plants
Chemical
Spray with an insecticide containing pyrethrum
Prevention None
Leaf Roll Virus (carried by Aphids)
Indications Leaves roll upwards becoming hard and brittle
Treatment Organic
1. Spray with soft soap
2. Use water through a hosepipe to knock the aphids off the plants
Chemical
Spray with an insecticide containing pyrethrum
Prevention None
Potato Blight on Leaves and in Tubers
Indications Brown edges and patches on leaves which spread. Stems have blackened patches. Grey or reddish patches in the tubers just below the skin.
Treatment None once the disease has taken hold. Do not store the tubers. Spraying with Dithane may help slow down the spread of the disease to neighbouring plants
Prevention Chemical
Spray with Dithane in July and repeat every 2 weeks if the weather is damp.
Slugs
Indications Young leaves are eaten - sometimes completely missing
Treatment Organic
1. Sink small pots filled with beer to ground level. Empty daily
2. Sprinkle slugs with table salt
Chemical
Use slug pellets
Prevention  Avoid damp or humid sites
Wireworm
Indications Tubers riddled with narrow tunnels
Treatment Organic
Regularly cultivate soil in spring and summer.
Early lifting will minimise damage
Prevention 1. Thoroughly turn soil in autumn to expose wireworms to predators
2. Practice crop rotation

 

Companion Flower Graphic

Beans, Sweetcorn, Green brassicas Marigold , Horseradish


If you know aphids are a problem in your area, grow flowers such as nasturtiums, calendula asters,  dahlias, and zinnias nearby (but not too close) as aphids find them attractive so they act as a lure.

 

Create a bio-diverse environment by planting flowers nearby to attract bees, ladybirds and other "friendlies". 

 

To learn more about companion planting click here.

In the Kitchen

Storage:   Several weeks  in a cool, dry, dark place indoors
Months in a cool, dry, dark place such as a garage or shed

Preparing
General -  If  the tubers have any dirt on them, wash well in cold water.  Small New Potatoes.  In general there is no need to peel these as the skins are very thin. Simply cut and cook as required.
Others -  Peel the skins off, remove any dark or green bits of flesh with a knife if necessary,  then cut and cook as required.
Important:    Potato flesh which is green is poisonous. Never eat green bits - cut them out. Potatoes should be cooked before they are eaten.

Bake/Roast

Whole in skins (Jacket) =  60 - 90 minutes. Prick skins a couple of times with the point of a sharp knife. Rub with oil for a crisper skin.

Chunks   =  50 - 60 minutes. Best par-boiled first for 10 minutes. Coat in oil or goose fat an sprinkle with salt or seasonings before roasting.

Cubes = 35-45 minutes Best par-boiled first for 5 minutes. Coat in oil or goose fat and sprinkle with salt or seasonings before roasting.

Slices/Batons =  45 - 70 minutes baked in a sauce or cream

Boil

Cubes/Chunks   =    10 - 20 minutes

Fry/Sauté

Slices/Chips (French Fries) / Batons / Cubes
Sauté 10 -20 minutes; Deep fry  8 - 10 minutes
Crisps =    Deep fry  4 - 6 minutes

Microwave

1 Whole in skin (Jacket) =  4-9 minutes. Pierce skin in several places.

Chunks/Cubes = 5 - 10 minutes

Steam

Cubes/Thick Slices   =    20 - 30 minutes

Stuff

80-90 minutes  (see individual recipes)

Uses are so numerous, we suggest you visit our sister site www.recipes4us.co.uk for lots more culinary information and recipes

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