- Multipurpose compost (garden centres, hardware stores)
- Black plastic dustbin bags (Supermarkets, hardware etc.)
- Small bag gravel to cover the drainage holes garden centres & large hardware stores)
- Small bag of Seed Potatoes – recommend Charlotte – one potato for each member of the family
- (garden centres, hardware stores, online)
- Liquid Seaweed Fertiliser
- Horticultural fleece (enough to cover each bag) – garden centres, online, large hardware stores
How to do it?
The charlotte variety does not require chitting so best to get them planted as soon as you get them.
Note: Chitting is a term used in the potato world that describes the process of encouraging buds to sprout on seed potatoes, giving them a head start when they’re planted..
Take two bin bags and place one inside the other for strength. Do this for each member of the family who wants to grow a bag. Roll down the sides and add about 10cm of compost. Poke a few holes around the bottom of the bags to make drainage holes.
- Take out your potatoes (known as tubers) and place three, evenly spaced, on the top of the compost, covering with another layer (about 15cm max).
Water until all the compost is damp. After about a week, as the foliage (known as the haulm) starts to show, add more compost to cover it, unrolling the bag as you go. Keep repeating this until your bag is full of compost, and then allow your plants to grow on. It’s important to ensure the compost is moist at all times but not waterlogged. Covering the potatoes in this way is known as ‘earthing’ up.
- After six weeks, add diluted seaweed fertiliser every two weeks to your watering can as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Potatoes are frost tender so this is likely to be your biggest problem. If frost threatens cover the bags with horticultural fleece to protect them. If it gets really cold or snow threatens you may need to use a double layer of fleece if you’re unable to move the bags to somewhere sheltered. Try and rig up a frame if this occurs to stop the fleece touching the foliage.
Blight is the biggest problem for potatoes but the risk has usually passed by September and you should avoid this devastating disease by growing an autumn crop.
How do you know when they’re ready? Pull a plant out and see. When it’s time to harvest them all, just split the bag, emptying the contents onto a piece of old tarpaulin or something similar.
Pests to watch out for
Once again the dreaded slug loves to munch on our potatoes!
Keep an eye out for any tell-tale nibbles in leaves and remove them by hand as soon as you see them (if you’re squeamish wear rubber gloves).
Slugs tend to be more active at dusk so head out with a torch.
Things it’s handy to know
One of the reasons we ‘earth up’ potatoes is to stop light reaching the tubers. If it does they will turn green – green potatoes are toxic and you could become very poorly if you eat them.
And for the Kids
Potato printed Christmas Cards
Cut a potato in half and carve shapes into the newly cut halves – any shape you like though stars or Christmas trees would be ideal. Make sure the shape is prominent.
Holding the potato, dip the cut end into red or green poster paint and print them onto folded cardboard. Sprinkle with glitter on to giving them that added sparkle.
They will delight in handing out their home made cards to friends and relatives at Christmas time.
With thanks to GIY Ireland. More gardening projects available on www.giyireland.com
Have you grown potatoes before with your child or any other easy GIY crops? Tell us all about it in the comments below