Over on Facebook, I shared that I’d been enjoying some home grown new potatoes in March.
Anyone who grows their own food will know that new potatoes are best enjoyed July and August. (I grow second earlies) And they don’t store well.
So how on earth was I eating them in March?
Well, I did an experiment.
At the end of last year’s harvest, I left a few home grown potatoes in situ. They weren’t even grown in traditional trenches in the ground, they were in an old bag on the patio outside the back door. I wanted to see if they would keep well being left outdoors all that time.
Turns out they not only survive, but they pretty much thrive out there!
Here they are dug up after a winter outdoors – they look virtually perfect, right?!
So it got me wondering, whether, if I planted enough, I could eat new potatoes year-round.
As these potatoes (they’re Charlottes, my absolute favourite!) can cost 80p-£1.10 / kg, I thought it would be a great way to enjoy a little luxury throughout the year.
And as I’ve found potatoes sprouting in the compost heap, in areas of the garden I’ve grown them previously and they sprout so easily, I decided to go for the ultimate in lazy gardening.
I grabbed as many large pots and bags as I could find. Our neighbour recently moved out and invited me to help myself from his garden. I also acquired an old green waste collection bag from my parents that their council no longer collects, so there was no need to buy anything new.
I filled my containers one-third full with the contents of last year’s pots and containers that had been used for peas, beans and courgettes – nothing fancy here; potatoes are very unfussy when it comes to soil, but it is best not to use soil that has been used for other potatoes or plants from the same family such as peppers or tomatoes.
I put seed potatoes into the pots (around 7-10 potatoes per container) then covered them, watered as necessary and waited for the first potato leaves to push their way through. I even managed to buy seed potatoes sans plastic, by purchasing them from a local, independent garden centre. Here they are sitting comfortably on the back seat of my car:
I then topped the containers up with more soil (called ‘earthing up’ – this prevents the potatoes turning green). This time I used compost from our own compost heaps. I didn’t bother to sieve or sift, I just threw it in, as it came out of the compost heap – in big lumps if necessary! Check out this article if you fancy doing some DIY composting.
I then repeated again, covering the leaves as they appeared until the pots are almost full.
Then all you have to do is water occasionally and wait for nature to do some magic!
Potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow, and I’m showing that you don’t need much space, time or any fancy equipment to grow your own.
In fact, over on the Zero Waste Week Facebook group, Andrea shared that she grew potatoes in an old dustbin! While Gill said “If I get a potato that’s gone wrinkly and/or sprouty I bung it in a pot on the patio. Generally I get about 7 to 9 new potatoes from one.” That’s the beauty for me too. Potatoes are the gift that keep on giving!
Next time you find a sprouting potato, like this one, in the vegetable rack, perhaps you’ll think like Gill and throw yours in a pot on the patio!
What about you, have you grown potatoes successfully in a small space?