Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Burying potatoes

I've grown potatoes each year since I got my garden but they've never really been the huge success I've hoped for. As space is tight on the suburban veg plot I used potato sacks or planters rather than growing them in the raised beds. Maybe that's the problem, maybe I don't water enough, maybe the growing medium is too poor. Whatever the reasons for my slightly underperforming potatoes, it has yet to put me off and so the bank holiday weekend found me once more setting off across the lawn with chitted potatoes in hand...
My potato collection this year has taken on a curiously Peruvian slant (possibly a subconscious leaning as 6 months after ordering the seed potatoes we booked our honeymoon - which takes in Peru. Make of that what you will.) Anyway, I purchased a collection of potatoes specially bred from ancient strains grown in the Peruvian Andes for thousands of years. The collection consists of Mayan Gold, Mayan Queen and Mayan Twilight and it was the Mayan Gold I have planted this weekend. They've been chitting for the last 8 weeks in the the kitchen and should be ready to harvest in mid September.

So my guide to potato burying on the suburban veg plot goes thus: firstly, fill the potato sack to the depth of 15cm with general multi purpose compost. I also added in the last of the 2009 rotted horse manure (note to self, must fetch some more). This gives the seed potatoes a decent depth to start stretching out those chitted shoots.

I then add a layer of organic potato fertiliser (providing the correct NPK ratio to grow great spuds but not too much foliage) and cover this with more compost or soil.

Then place the chitted seed potatoes on top of this, followed by a good soaking. This not only wets the growing medium but also serves to start dissolving the fertiliser into the lower layers so that the roots will reach down into it and benefit from the nutrients.

Finally cover with a good few inches more of compost. The haulms should start to show in a week or so - I'll keep you updated!


  1. Even though I plant potatoes in the allotment, I still plant some in containers. I've had great success with my containers in previous years. I don't fill the bottom of mine with quite so much compost to start them off, only about four inch, then about the same amount on top of the potatoes. This gives more room on top of the seed potatoes, which is where the tubers grow. Containers tend to dry out much quicker than the ground so it's important to keep them well watered. Your seed potatoes look great, they've chitted well. Hope they do well for you.

  2. Hi Jo, it's definitely the watering that I struggle to keep up with once the summer hits proper. I'm thinking of setting up some kind of basic self-watering system to help with this. Oh, and apologies for the mix of metric and imperial! As a child of the early 70s, I fall right in between them both!

  3. I was born in 1968, they tried to teach us in metric at school, but I always revert back to imperial measurements, yet my hubby who was born in 1966 uses metric all the time. I forgot to mention that I don't put a lot of seed potatoes in the containers, usually three at the most. I would probably put four in the ones you've got.