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This is something the most amateur gardener can do with success. It's also an excellent way of growing potatoes in a small space.
Because the potatoes are grown in a container of fresh multipurpose they are very unlikely to be affected by any soil borne pests and diseases. The only care they require is earthing up a few times and to be kept watered and fed. Our step by step guide takes you through the process with pictures.

What You Will Need

Drainage holes in a potato container 1. A container to grow the potatoes in (see main article below).  

2. Enough multi-purpose compost to nearly fill the container.

3. Between one and three seed potatoes (see main article below), preferably sprouted.

4. Concentrated liquid tomato feed for use later in the season

When to Plant Seed Potatoes in a Container
The average time for planting potatoes in the open ground in the UK is around mid-March, a few weeks later in colder areas, a few weeks earlier in warmer areas. When you grow potatoes in containers you can plant them a few weeks earlier as long as you make sure they are in a relatively warm position. For example, near the side of a house wall out of strong winds is a good position.

The Container

Any size of container can be used from 30cm (1 ft) wide and deep up to a full-sized dustbin. They can be rigid plastic, plastic sheet (as above), dustbins, almost anything. The only requirement is that they have good drainage holes in the bottom.
We used a reinforced plastic container specially designed for growing potatoes in. From experience we know these will last several years.

Packaged potato planters

The Seed Potatoes

Sprouted potatoes The seed potato on the left has been chitted or sprouted. Click here to go to the main potato article for more details on this process. Chitting is not necessary but it will give an earlier crop of potatoes.
Depending on the size of the container you will need between one and three seed potatoes. For a 30cm (1ft) container use 1 seed potato. For larger containers use two to three seed potatoes.  Don't use more than three.

Planting the Seed Potatoes

Fill the bottom of the container with about 10cm (4in) of multipurpose compost. As you add it to the container, break up any lumps. This will allow the potatoes to grow more easily and bulk out the compost.

Place the seed potatoes on the top of the compost with the side that has the most sprouted eyes uppermost.

Seed potatoes in container

Complete the Planting

Potatoes planted in container With the seed potatoes in place add another 10cm (4in) of multipurpose, breaking down any lumps as you go.

Water the container well and then mark it up with the variety of potato being grown.

Place the container in a light and airy position out of any chance of frost.

Earthing Up the Potatoes

After a few weeks shoots will begin to appear from the compost. When they reach about 15cm (6in) above the soil level, add about 10cm (4in) more multipurpose compost so that only 5cm (2in) of the shoot is above soil level.

Repeat the above process until the shoots reach above the top of the container.  

Care of Potatoes While Growing
The main care required is watering and feeding. Water when the compost starts to dry out. Check it by uncovering 10cm (4in) or so of compost and checking if it is drying out. The weight of the container will also indicte if the compost is drying out. Feed every couple weeks with a concentrated tomato feed, diluted as per the instructions on the packet.

If the potato plants start to produce flowers then pinch these off to encourage the plant to produce larger potatoes and not seed.

Harvesting The Potatoes

  Potatoes are ready for harvest when the foliage starts to turn yellow. Maincrop potatoes especially can be left in the compost for several weeks longer. Early potatoes can be harvested before the leaves turn yellow for small tasty new potatoes. Sometime in early June, carefully feel through the soil to judge the size of the potatoes with your hands. Harvest the by twisting and pulling gently. The remaining potatoes will continue to grow.


Name: Dee Long
E-mail: Private
Date posted: August 22, 2011 - 08:04 pm
Message: I planted just the eyes of a potato with just a little meat of the the potato. They are have grown approximately 6" high can I transplant them in the ground? and how soon?

Name: gill
Date posted: July 31, 2011 - 10:01 am
Message: i've got my potatoes in very large pots,i got great foliage,but no flowers,now foliage starting to turn yellow,will i have potatoes if i dig them up.?? im an amatuer is u can no doubt tell!

Name: carole
E-mail: Private
Date posted: July 24, 2011 - 05:16 pm
Message: My cabbages are growing well but they are starting to have tiny holes in the leaves! I have checked them for butterfly eggs and caterpillers. I dont want to use anything harsh on them what do you suggest please?

Name: francis
Date posted: July 22, 2011 - 07:54 am
Message: i am growing potatoes in bagas and tubs they have been growing well have been in for approx. 10 weeks should the foliage be so tall as its falling over and breaking unable to keep upright iff so is it ok or have i done some thing wrong. foliage about 1 meter tall

Name: John
Date posted: June 18, 2011 - 12:10 am
Message: I have 3 large tubs and have followed instructions to the letter. I have sewn the seed potatoes which have grown well and built up the compost levels as directed. The plants are now easily 18 inches tall. I sewed them in March, now mid June, I keep a lookout for flowers. None so far but where I expect to see a flower, there are tiny buds that seem to be eaten off or "clipped" (not by me). I have all new compost in my tubs but have not fed them with any tomato food as suggested. Is it too late to do this? No yellowing of leaves as yet. I am reluctant to disturb them incase the potatoes (if any) are not formed yet but I think the only way is to go ahead and have a peek I think. Perhaps I should wait until the leaves start to die down and turn yellow. I have just read that not all potatoes produce a flower, this is somewhat disconcerting!

Name: Mary
E-mail: Private
Date posted: May 22, 2011 - 04:04 am
Message: My garden isn't very big so i've grown mine in ikea bags this year and they are doing really well

Name: Annette
E-mail: Private
Date posted: May 19, 2011 - 09:31 am
Message: I am new to potato growing I have planted them in large pots I have had a feel round and I don't think I have any pototoes growing although the plant looks well and has started flowering I have planted earlies .

Name: sharon
E-mail: Private
Date posted: May 12, 2011 - 12:18 pm
Message: my potatoes are growing in 3" by 2ft wood box is that enought room & when the stem turn yellow is it time to cut them back? what is the best time to plant and how long can u harvest them? p.s. i started growing them from a potatoes full of eyes. thank you

Name: f cotsford
Date posted: May 04, 2011 - 04:23 am
Message: my potatoes in a dust bin had great top growth but no potatoes under neath

Name: Marcy
Date posted: May 03, 2011 - 04:10 pm
Message: I got a half bag of Idaho potatoes that have eyes all over them. I cut them up, put toothpicks in them and placed them on top of water jars so they will sprout and grow stems. I have seen this done a long time ago, so I am trying this with these potatoes that have eyes all over them. I have about 24 jars of them. I would like to plant them into containers with compost, to raise the compost level as the stem grows taller. I want to watch and see what happens. I have not grown potatoes before. I just learned that it will take four months from planting to harvest, and to keep the soil moist, with good drainage. I will put dried leaves instead of straw around them to keep the grass weeds out, because this is what I have. I wantt to plant some in a raised bed and watch which method gives better results.

Name: Sara Maskell
E-mail: Private
Date posted: September 05, 2010 - 04:42 pm
Message: Brian, mine have purple flowers and are Maris Piper :)

Name: sarah marshall
Date posted: August 24, 2010 - 08:13 am
Message: I would like to plant potatoes ready to harvest for xmas. Is this possible? What variety and technique do i need to use - I am an amateur!!!! But do have raised beds

Name: Brian
Date posted: August 13, 2010 - 05:46 pm
Message: A Friend has Spuds in pots in her garden
they are starting to bllom the flowers are a purple colour can you tell us the variaty as she cant member what they were
thank you