When Should You Plant Potatoes?

Growing potatoes in a home-made planter

Here is just a quick post to emphasize just how simple it is to get the maximum benefit out of a few seed potatoes, using a ‘trench’ method to maximise the final crop. With more and more people now looking to grow vegetables in small spaces, growing potatoes in barrels and other containers has become incresasingly popular – and quite rightly so as the results can be very impressive.

Here is a stupidly simple set-up I have used utilising some old bricks I had lying around. They are not even cemented together, just laid ‘drywall’ style to make sure joints are overlapping for strength – a simple Raised Bed in effect.

It may not be the prettiest planter you have ever seen 🙂 but it does do the job rather well – and tidies up the yard by using up some old bricks!

simple potato planter
This is a brick planter with the old bricks simply laid out in dry form so that the planter will be easily dismantled come harvest time

The actual construction is in the form of a ‘lean-to’ against the raised platform that my oil tank rests on. This gives me a height of approx 20 inches in which to grow my spuds.

Planting potatoes in the planter:

The potatoes were begun in the usual way by chitting the spuds (read more about chitting in this article) to leave only a couple of small shoots. I planted the seed potatoes just under the surface in only about 6 inches of soil to begin with.

As the potatoes growOpens in a new tab. the idea is to keep adding more growing medium, leaving only a few leaves poking through the surface each time. The material I have chosen in this instance is very simple – 50% home-made compostOpens in a new tab. and 50% washed builders sand. This is a very effective medium for growing vegetables of many varieties.

I have chosen two varieties just for a little experiment. The ‘WiljaOpens in a new tab.‘ a great early potato for roasts, mashing or boiling, on the left-hand side and ‘Maris PiperOpens in a new tab.‘ on the right.

This is a great main crop potato with purple flowers, one of the most popular for UK growers. Contrary to all the usual advice I have thrown them both together at the same time (late April), and we’ll see what happens.

simple potato planter
Potatoes growing nicely and soon tall enough to top-up the compost mix to encourage more tubers on the plant

When to plant the potatoes

Potatoes can be planted 2-3 weeks before the last frost of Spring, and any time up to as late as mid June. Choose 1st early, 2nd early and main crop potatoes depending on when in the season you are planting them.

Within a few short weeks (12-20) the potatoes should be reaching for the sky, and I am busy filling-in as they grow enthusiastically. My only concern is that the rich compost medium is going to encourage a spurt of growth in the shaws with little or no tubers to show for it 🙂

Potatoes growing in planter:

It is now the 16th June and the spuds are looking great! The trench has now been filled in to the top with the growing medium, and as As we can see from the pic below, the Maris Piper are racing a bit ahead but both are looking healthy. Come back for a potato harvest update, when we will see if I have nothing but a bunch of potato shaws with no tubers!

brick potato planter

This simple potato planter made from spare bricks that were lying around, certainly seems to be working a treat so far!

Is it just going to produce a great leaf harvest – or will there be an abundance of potatoes to gloat over! Follow the next link to get the results from the potato planter experiment…

The Potato Harvest Is In! Click HERE


Best Selling author of several no-dig gardening books, James has over 40 years of gardening knowledge and experience to share with like-minded gardening enthusiasts.

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