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The Potato Plant. It has sustained our nations for hundreds of years and is an invaluable crop in the garden. There are many different ways in which to grow the humble potato plant, each of them works very well. But in this blog post, I am going to share with you 7 reasons for growing potatoes in containers. If you would like to see this blog in video format click here
If you ask any gardener who grows their own food which vegetable they would never do without, the humble potato plant would be in the top three. Potatoes are a perfect plant for the amount of effort put into them. They give you tubers that can be stored right through until the following harvest. This makes them an ideal crop to grow, for those willing to be more self-sufficient.
Is growing potatoes this way really better?
Over the years I have grown potatoes in all sorts of ways. I have grown potatoes in bags. I have grown potatoes in buckets. And I have grown potatoes in the ground. But my most preferred way of growing potatoes is in containers. Why do I like to grow potatoes in containers so much? Well, there are 7 top reasons why I prefer it, and why you should consider growing your potatoes in containers too.
Traditional Way To Plant Potatoes
- The hardest part of growing potatoes traditionally is that you would have to dig a trench, put in manure and then place your potatoes in the trench and then backfill the trench.
That is a huge amount of work, it can be back-breaking and not everyone is able to bend like this for so long. Growing the potato plant in containers is much easier, you can place the container on the floor or a work surface,
Place some compost into the bottom, add your seed potatoes, and feed and fill the container right away, you are finished at this point other than feeding and watering. As when using the trench method, you would have to keep visiting and hoe up the potatoes as they grow.
Hilling Up Potatoes
Potatoes Growing In Containers
Containers Allow You To Plant Potatoes Earlier
2. You can plant your seed potatoes much earlier. Due to potatoes not being frost hardy when planting in the ground we would have to wait until the threat of the last frost was over.
Frost dates are different depending on where you live in the world but planting outside before this date is very risky. By growing potatoes in containers, you can cheat this time.
The seed potatoes can be sown earlier and left inside a greenhouse or polytunnel with a layer of fleece over them to protect the haulms. And then the containers can be moved outside to their growing place when the weather is more conducive and less like to be harmed by frosts.
Containers Warm The Soil Quicker
3. Containers warm the soil much quicker than the soil in the ground warms, this is because the containers are usually a dark colour or black and absorb the sun. This gives them an edge when it comes to early growth
It also restricts the root zone in the container. This ensures that the roots have no choice but to absorb the water and nutrients that are provided. In the ground, the root zone is free to grow and stretch outside the feeding zone and therefore may uptake less feed.
If you doubt this, click here to see a video on Youtube to an experiment I performed last year. Where I was able to double the yield in potatoes grown in containers over potatoes grown in the ground. I ran that experiment for 3 years and the results were identical each year.
How To Water Potatoes Efficiently
4. Although you might not think it, Watering is more efficient as you are watering the root zone only. The plant takes up what is required, there is also a smaller area that is open to the surface which cuts down evaporation.
In the ground, the soil wicks the water away from the plant and this then has a larger area to evaporate from. Also, you may not necessarily be watering all the roots from the plant as these could have gone in all directions and further than where you are watering.
Dealing With Potato Diseases
5. You are much less likely to catch the disease, there are loads of soil-borne diseases such as Alternaria. Alternaria is a soil-borne disease otherwise known as early blight. There are many soil-borne diseases and pests that you can totally cut out of the equation such as wireworm as you are not using the soil from the ground.
Instead, you are using compost, either bought or homemade. I have had many people tell me it’s very expensive to buy compost to grow your potatoes in, but if you check out my last compost video which is below you will see you can easily make enough compost to fill containers.
Even if you buy your compost it is still worthwhile for numerous reasons. Some of these are compost can be reused multiple times when growing potatoes providing you avoid blight on your potatoes. And when reusing the soil just add the additional feed.
Once you can no longer use it for potatoes you can spread it in your garden to help build the soil structure in your garden. Those that tell me that it’s a waste do not understand how each section of the garden is supposed to work synergistically.
Can I move Potatoes In Containers
6. When the weather is very bad, and we have storms as we have had recently, or blight hits other gardeners around you, then you can pick up your container and take them indoors to a greenhouse or polytunnel which can help prevent them catching the blight.
If they are on the ground, you cannot do this. Also, you can move them about if you decide you want the space for something else, even freeing up beds and putting them on a patio where you wouldn’t normally be able to grow such a crop.
Harvesting Potatoes From Containers
7. Last but certainly not least is the harvest. Removing potatoes from the ground is the reverse of putting them in, with all the backbreaking work involved. I also dislike this part as you waste a lot of potatoes by sticking the fork through the tubers or missing them completely which means your harvest is less and they pop up as volunteer potatoes next year.
With containers, it’s very easy. Simply lift one container into a wheelbarrow or even just tip it over where it stands and pull out all the potatoes, none are stabbed, none are missed you get every single one of them. On top of that, they are always cleaner coming out of containers than they are the ground.
Curing And Storing Potatoes Long Term
After the harvest, we can think about drying them off and storing the potatoes, and I have a video on that also that teaches you to not only store your potatoes through winter but also to store your own seed potatoes for the following year which will help save you money on buying next years seed. You can view that video in the link below.
Well, that’s it, folks. I have now given you my top seven reasons why you should consider growing potatoes in containers. Whether that be plastic pots, buckets, or even bags. It really does give you such an advantage over other growing methods. I urge you to check out the Videos pointed to that are on my YouTube channel.
I know a lot of people always struggled with the amount of compost used when growing potatoes in containers. But if you watch the compost video above or even check out my complete guide on composting blog. This will ensure it doesn’t cost you a penny.
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Happy gardening, Have a great day. And remember folks You Reap What You Sow!