If you have never grown potatoes before or have been wondering how to grow potatoes, as part of our Gardening How To series Andrew from Quickcrop explains how easy it is and, even better, how easy it is to involve your preschooler in growing potatoes with this simple project! You don’t even need a big plot or garden!
Growing Potatoes in bags
Sticking your garden fork in under a potato plant at harvest time to get the first peek at your crop is a wonderful feeling. You’ve tended to your potato plants all season, watering the lush green foliage and keeping an eye out for pests. But here’s the best bit, you’ve never been allowed to look. Not until the moment you turn back the soil do you see did you win or loose. Don’t be tempted to have a peep earlier on, you may damage the root system and end up with nothing!
The best thing about potatoes is how easy it is to get your little one to help you.
If I’m going to tell how fabulous home grown potatoes are I’d better tell you how to grow them, so down to business:
You will need:
1 x 3 pack potato patio planters.
1 x box of potato fertilizer
2 x 60 litre bags of compost
1 x bag of seed potatoes.
A watering can or garden hose.
I’m going to keep it very simple here. If you want a quick growing potato that’s resistant to blight it would be hard to find a better spud than ‘Orla’. Let’s leave it at that.
Potato bags are a very handy way of growing especially for children. By growing in a multi purpose compost it makes it much easier to harvest your crop by simply emptying the bag. I think kids also like the idea that you put 3 potatoes in a bag and pull out over 20 when you’re done.
It’s interesting to show kids the process where the ‘eye’ of the potato starts to produce the the little bud that eventually grows into the potato stem.
Chitting is leaving the seed potato exposed to the light for a week or two which causes it to produce sprouts. We’ve all seen this happen to potatoes left in the bag under the sink for any length of time. The idea is it gives you a head start of about 10 days before you plant them in the ground.
A potato has a blunt end with a number of small depressions or ‘eyes’. Place the potatoes in egg boxes on a windowsill with the ‘eyes’ facing upwards for 2 weeks until they start to form small shoots. They are ready to plant when the shoots are about 1.5 to 2cm long.
N.B. You don’t need to do this but it will speed up the harvest by 10 days or so.
Fill each potato bag a quarter full with a good potting compost. Potatoes are quite hungry plants so we recommend mixing a handful of potato fertilizer in with the compost at this stage. You can add about 75 grams for each bag.
Place 3 seed potatoes in each bag, evenly spaced and add enough compost to cover. Water the bag and wait for the green shoots to appear above the compost.
Once the potato stems appear above the surface and have grown an inch or two you can add more compost. Repeat this process every few weeks until the bag is full.
By the end of June your bags will be ready to harvest. Remove the foliage and root around to see what you’ve got!
Where to put them
Place the bag in the sunniest part of the garden or playground.
It’s very important to keep your bags well watered as this will directly affect the amount of potatoes you harvest. This is especially true when the bag is full and you’re getting plenty of foliage growing out the top. Try not to let them dry out.
Blight is a disease that effect all potatoes, some varieties more than others. The disease is only usually a problem in the more humid weather of July and August so is highly unlikely to affect your crop. The variety ‘Orla’ also has good resistance to the disease.
Ready to go packs
To get you going Mykidstime and Quickcrop have assembled handy packs to get you started with a variety of easy crops. Of course most of the products listed are available in your local garden centre, we’ve just made it easier by assembling the correct variety of seed and provide the full kit just a click away. The packs can be delivered directly to your home, school, creche or play group.
We’ve taken into account your term times so have only included crops which will be ready by June/July. I’ll be covering a range of different crops to grow in your planters and taking you through each plant step by step. Check back here on Mykidstime for the most recent updates.
Pack 1 incl. Carrot Patio Planter + Seed + Compost €29.50 – Buy here
There’s something so exciting about crops which grow under the ground, it’s a bit like removing the wrapping on a present. You can’t beat pulling your own carrot and for some reason it’s something kids love.
The planter comes in a bright orange horticultural fabric and really looks the part with the fine green foliage of the carrot plant.
Pack 2 incl. 3 x Potato Planter + Seed Potatoes + Compost + Potato Fertilizer €34.50 – Buy here
New potatoes are a very easy crop to grow and will supply a good harvest of small to medium new potatoes by the middle of June. They require very little looking after and are a fun crop to grow in a bag.
Add a little of the supplied potato fertilizer to boost your crop and look forward to a great harvest. Children love to root about in the compost to discover the smooth skinned golden new potatoes.
Pack 3 incl. 2 x Strawberry Patio Planter + Strawberry Plants + Compost €29.50 – Buy here
Find me a child who doesn’t like Strawberries! The Strawberry planters come in hard wearing funky pink horticultural fabric. They contain 8 stitched planting pockets for your strawberry plants.
Pack 4 incl. 1 x Sticklebag kids planter + Sugar Snap Peas + Compost €34.50 – Buy here
The Sticklebag is a planter specially developed for children with a great looking giraffe print planter containing a bamboo wigwam and soft rubber cane topper. Looks fabulous in a play setting.
The above prices are subject to our standard delivery rate of €6.50 (Still probably less than the fuel you’ll use going to the garden centre!). If you wish to order more than 1 pack the delivery stays at a maximum of €6.50 so better value the more you order.
Help and Advice
Don’t forget the Quickcrop website has a very comprehensive learning section. It’s all free to use so make sure you visit the site if you need any help. We’re also delighted to take your phone calls or answer your emails so do get in touch if you have any queries. Office tel: 01 524 0884 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good Luck and Happy Growing!
Quickcrop is an Irish website dedicated to the vegetable grower. They provide a wide range of products including timber raised beds, soil mixes, vegetable plants, tools and accessories. They have an extensive free knowledge section with free video tutorials as well as a unique online schools app.
Did you have a go at growing potatoes? How did you get on? Tell us in the comments below.