From an early age I remember the joy of pointing to potatoes as I saw my dad lifting the potato plants. It was just a smallish bed in the back garden in the summer holidays and I must have been about seven at the time but I remember the scene now as if it were only yesterday.
I can’t remember how the potatoes tasted afterwards- though I’m sure they were pretty delicious. That elation of seeing the potatoes coming out of the ground at that young age is what is truly etched in my mind to this day.
It goes to show that home-growing isn’t just about the end product but the feelings that come with the triumphs of sowing, growing and harvesting.
Yes- there are the trials and tribulations too- they are part of the heart-break that goes with tending your own plants that become your babies in a way. I think the positives far outweigh the negatives however when it comes to growing your own.
Where do you start
For growing your own potatoes I recommend you start with growing plants in sacks. You need not sacrifice any of your beds when you have sacks, plus you can grow them on the patio or balcony close to the house.
Grow them in containers or purpose-made sacks and they need not take up much space either. In fact there’ll be space for growing your own sacks of potatoes even in you just have a balcony.
Here’s what you need
Where to put your potatoes on arrival before planting
Keep your mesh of potatoes (these pre-planting potatoes that arrive with you are called ‘seed potaotes’) somewhere cool and light. An unheated greenhouse is perfect or a porch windowsill that doesn’t get to hot.
When to start planting
Plant your potatoes end of March in an early spring or mid-April if the winter is long. Choose to grow potatoes in as sunny a site as you can. These Charlotte potatoes will be ready to collect up from June.
What to do
Quantities for three Gro-Sacks
1) Empty some Vegetable Growing Compost into three Gro-Sacks to a depth of 15cm (6 in). Break up any large clumps in the compost with a trowel or hand fork to leave a fine and even compost.
2) Add ¼ of the 75g Potato Fertiliser to each sack and mix into the compost. You should have ¼ bag of Potato Fertiliser remaining.
3) Now place two to five potato Charlotte 'seed' potatoes in each of the bags (one near each corner and one in the centre). Cover the potatoes with a further layer of compost so they are only just covered.
4) Add water to the compost so that it is moist but not waterlogged. Check once a day that the compost is moist and water on a daily basis if the soil dries out quickly.
5) As the shoots grow to 15cm (6in) high, cover them with another 10cm (4in) layer of compost with a small sprinkling of fertiliser per bag.
6) Repeat this process until the base of the shoots are about 5-10cm (2-4in) from the top of the Gro-Sack. Add a little fertiliser to each bag each time.
It’s harvest time
Cut down the stems in mid June and either fish out the tubers tombola-style or tip out the compost onto a mat or old sheet to expose the mature spuds.
Let me know what you thought of growing potatoes in your Gro-Sack? Did more seed potatoes create more mature potatoes or fewer? Some swear by just plant two potatoes to a Gro-Sack whereas other growers prefer to plant around five?
What do you think? Leave your comments below.