Traditionally, potatoes are planted in the ground, but if you don’t have a lot of room, you can grow them in containers. Always buy certified seed potatoes – they are guaranteed to be virus-free and will produce a healthy crop. These should be available in your local nursery in early spring. Popular varieties include: Delaware, Kipfler, Mondial, Royal Blue, Ruby Lou and Dutch Cream.
In the garden
- Choose a sunny spot with well-draining soil.
- Dig in plenty of compost – at least 2 buckets per square metre.
- Cut your seed potatoes into chunks and aim to have 2-3 ‘eyes’ on each chunk.
- Make a shallow trench about 10-20cm deep and place the seed potatoes with the ‘eyes’ pointing upwards, about 25-30cm apart.
- Cover with a 10cm layer of soil and water well.
- As the potato shoots begin to show above the soil surface, gradually cover them with more soil. Keep doing this as the shoots continue to grow. This is known as ‘hilling’ and will produce more potatoes.
In containers or bags
Choose containers that are least 30cm wide and deep – the bigger the better. Each plant will need about 10 litres of soil to grow into, so work out the capacity of your containers before you start planting. Make sure there are holes at the bottom for drainage.
- Add potting mix to about 10cm high.
- Lay your seed potatoes on top, equally spaced out, with the eyes facing upwards
- Cover with another 10cm of potting mix and water in well.
- As the shoots grow, continue to add layers of potting mix (10cm at a time) until the top of the container is reached.
- Maintain a regular soil moisture level – it should feel slightly damp to touch, not soggy.
- Harvest your potatoes as you need them - any time from 8 weeks - and leave the remainder in the soil to get bigger.
- Give plants a light application of an all-purpose organic fertiliser after planting and follow up with another application after six weeks.