Family: Solanaceae

Countries: Americas, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, South America, Venezeula

Potatoes can be planted and grown in the soil, but don’t worry, if you don’t have the ground available, you can grow your own successful harvest of potatoes in a container.  I have grown potatoes very successfully in various different containers, including an old bin, which worked exceptionally well!  Tall containers, like old plastic bins, take up less room and can grow a greater crop than shallower containers like regular garden pots.  Whatever container you choose, make sure that it has some drainage holes in the bottom, which will allow the water to run through and escape.  This is important, as potatoes need enough water through the growing season to develop and grow to full size, but too wet a soil or compost will be detrimental to your crop.  A moist, but well drained soil or compost is ideal.

It’s important to keep earthing up your potatoes as they grow, to encourage your plants to grow healthily and provide you with a greater harvest of useable potatoes.  If you’re growing your potatoes in a container, make sure that you choose a large container, start low and then work your way up: first add a layer of peat-free compost and then place your potatoes on top.  (One or two potatoes will be more than enough for most containers.)  Then cover with another layer of peat-free compost and water in if necessary.  As your potato plants grow, keep gradually covering them over with peat-free compost, adding more compost layers every week.  Do this promptly, as you see your potato plants’ leaves appear, until your potato plants have reached the top of your container.  If you’re growing your potatoes in the soil, use a hoe, keep drawing the soil up, around and over your plants each week, forming mounds or raised rows.  Cover your plants over with soil, as you see new leaf growth poke through the soil.

There are many great advantages to growing potatoes in containers – the main benefit being that you do not have to deal with the volunteer potatoes that were accidentally left behind and will grow up to hamper the growing of whichever crop follows your potato harvest.  If you garden in a smaller space than you would like, growing your potatoes in a tall container will make optimum use of the space you have available to you.

Potatoes are an easy to grow, heavy copping vegetable, but a problem that potato and tomato growers may experience is a devastating and destructive disease known as late blight.  Late blight can quickly appear, ruining your harvest within a day or two of being first spotted.  Late blight is first spotted on the leaves and foliage of potatoes, brown, damp, rotten patches of discolouration on the leaves and stems of potato plants will often be the first signs that potato growers see.  If you spot the first signs of blight and your potatoes have grown, it is worth acting as quickly as you can to harvest your crop to avoid losing your entire harvest.  Regularly earthed up potatoes can escape infection or can evade blight for longer.  Quick cropping potato cultivars, planted at the optimum time, as soon the soil is warm enough, are more likely to be grown successfully.

Slugs and snails can be a pest of potatoes, nematotes can control the numbers of slugs and snails in the soil.

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