New Season: New Potatoes
Pots in pots?
It can be done: Fiona Lawrenson shows us how, she even
reveals a liking for the odd potato plant amongst her
New potatoes for
me always mark the beginning of the new season. There
seems to be something quite luxurious about them –
a delicacy like the first asparagus or a bottle of Beaujolais.
But this is a delicacy that can be easily grown at home
and without a great deal of fuss. And, if you grow early,
you want them early - not in June or July. We want them
So set to, don’t
Now we’re not going to venture into the cold,
wet, muddy garden – we’re going to be dry,
warm and smug and grow new potatoes in pots in a cold
greenhouse. Potatoes are now available in most nursery
catalogues and hardware stores – yes that’s
where I find mine! But, before you plant, you need to
up. This is a process that is easy to do and gets
them off to a proper start. Place the tubers
in a tray pointing upwards – leave in a cool,
dry greenhouse or on a windowsill. Once the shoots have
started to appear and look sturdy (about ½ in long)
then they are ready.
Firstly find a sturdy, plastic container no smaller
than either 12in wide or 12in deep. Use a good garden
soil with plenty of homemade compost
worked in or a good potting compost. Put 5in of soil
in the bottom of the pot – place 2 chitted potatoes
on top, spaced evenly, with the majority of shoots pointing
uppermost and cover with another 4in of soil. Water
and leave to grow. When the shoots are 6in high, add
another 4in of soil and repeat until the shoots are
within 2in of the brim – this allows your potato
plants to grow up through the soil so they are encouraged
to produce plenty of new tubers. Remember to check the
compost – you don’t want it to dry out and
you also don’t want it to become waterlogged –
the compost should just remain damp.
When to Harvest
As a rough guide, the plants usually take between 100
and 110 days to produce small, but perfectly formed
potatoes. Another indicator that the potatoes are ready
is when the plants produce flowers. Before diving in,
carefully have a little explore first to find out what’s
going on. If happy and hungry, tip the potatoes out
and reap the rewards of your hard work! Growing potatoes
this way in a greenhouse ensures a really early crop
when pots in shops are at their most expensive.
If you haven’t
got a greenhouse or a veg plot, potatoes are still great
to grow in a container, but, to avoid frost damage,
wait a little longer to plant. The middle of March should
Last year, wherever
a gap occurred within my flower border, I started adding
the odd potato. The foliage looks lush and attractive
and, at the end of the summer, I can dig through the
border splitting perennials
and digging up a glorious harvest of Pink Fir Apples!
If you love fresh
mint with your new potatoes, but there’s no really
good growth on your outdoor plants then dig up a few
roots of mint, pot them and grow on the kitchen windowsill.
By the time the potatoes are ready, your mint will be
full of new growth and taste mouth watering.
reprinted with permission from Greenfingers.com