Plant Seed Potatoes
Although potatoes are strong growing plants, many people forget that
the foliage is very frost tender. So don't plant seed potatoes if there
will be a danger of frost when the foliage has sprouted.
In average areas of the UK, the end of this week is a good time to plant
seed potatoes. They will take several weeks to settle in and start
growing, hopefully late enough to avoid any frost by the time they
appear above ground.
Click here for full details. If a frost does threaten after the
foliage has appeared then either cover the plants with horticultural
fleece , straw or similar. In fact a layer of black plastic will also
offer frost protection as long as you take it off as soon as possible to
allow light to get the plants.
Growing Potatoes in Containers
Still on the subject of potatoes, amazingly large crops will be
produced if you grow them in containers. Dustbins are ideal but smaller
containers can also be used. The smallest size is probably 30cm (12in)
wide and deep. Many garden centres now sell fold up plastic bags for
growing potatoes in. These are ideal.
First make sure that whatever container you use it has drainage holes
at the bottom. Pour in a layer multi-purpose compost to a depth of about
10cm (4in) and gently firm it down. In the smallest pots, place one seed
potato on the compost, three seed potatoes for the largest containers.
Cover them with 15cm (6in) of multi-purpose compost and water them well.
Keep the container in a warm and sunny spot.
When the foliage reaches about 15cm (6in) tall, add more
multi-purpose compost so that only 5cm (2in) of foliage is visible.
Repeat this process until the compost is nearly at the top of the
container. Then just let them grow.
Keep the soil moist as the potatoes grow but don't swamp them with
water. A month or so after planting, feed with liquid tomato plant
fertiliser, diluted as per the instructions on the pack. Feed like this
every two weeks.
To judge if the potatoes are ready, gently feel their size under the
compost. In bigger containers you'll need to go down quite deep and grab
some of the larger ones at the base. If done gently, you will do little
harm to the remaining potatoes.
If you still have potatoes when the weather starts to cool down, then
stop watering and move the container to a cool but frost free position.
The potatoes will keep in the dryish multi-purpose for a long time.
For more detailed information and timings go to our individual
fruit pages. If you want to see a
condensed vegetable advice page with planting, sowing, care and
harvesting information for the entire year on one page then go to our