How To Use A Potato Planter
* For growing on small spaces & hard surfaces,
* For the earliest and the latest crop,
* For cleaner potatoes.

Potato planters, grow bags and raised beds are used to grow prize winning potatoes for the garden show bench. They provide the earliest new potatoes.

Growing potatoes on my concrete yard.

Several Potato Planters in my yard


Uncovering the top
of my potato barrel crop.

Uncovering the potato crop in my container


"Red Duke of York" grows well in containers.

My Potato Barrel Harvest of Red Duke of York

The plastic sheet was used merely to contain the soil.



Sprinkle Potato Fertilzer & Mix into Compost



Plant 4 or 5 Potato Tubers Per Container


Fill your tub with compost as they grow.

Tub Growing Young Potato Plants



Potato Bucket Harvest

Note: 4 or 5 plants will fit in one of these tubs.

Wrap around potato tubs, potato barrels, and bags, all fit coveniently and neatly on hard surfaces that are open to full light. Try them on your patio, in your back yard, or even on a balcony. They give you a convenient way to harvest your own fresh spuds.

Below you'll discover how you can grow the earliest potatoes for summer salads as well as freshly picked 'new' potatoes to roast and eat for Christmas dinner.

Advantages of a Potato Planter For Organic Gardeners

  • Help to isolate your potato plants from some garden pests e.g. slugs,
  • Grow early varieties to get a crop before the seasonal blight infection,
  • Give your garden soil a rest from potato growing while you still enjoy fresh home grown potatoes from your tubs,
  • Grow a cleaner crop by using specially prepared compost,
  • Grow a respectable crop on small hard surfaces - patio, paved yard...
  • Grow the earliest potatoes from containers started in the greenhouse and brought out after last frost,
  • Grow potatoes for longer in the fall and harvest them fresh for Christmas.

How to Grow the Earliest Potatoes

  • Buy 'First Early' seed potatoes - 'Swift' and 'Rocket' (U.K.) are the fastest to produce - but 'Nicola' is perhaps the nicest to eat. A compact growing variety is best.
  • Begin chitting them in late December early January, see links below on how to chit potatoes.
  • Mix your potato fertilizer into a good moisture holding organic compost about 3 weeks before planting and cover, (I use a separate container for this),
    get a few bags of potato growing compost available from the links below.
  • You can leave your potato planters in a conservatory or cold greenhouse. They'll be growing before garden potatoes are planted outside.
  • When the frosts are over the tubs get moved outside - before they are too full and heavy.
  • Results:- You'll get the first new potatoes of the season in early summer. And a clean crop suitable for the show bench.
    See below to get new potatoes at Christmas...
Work out how many bags of compost you need because this seasonal stuff may sell out before you've filled the bins,

Note:- you can mix proprietary compost with your own made garden compost to make it go further and better.

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To find suitable potato planters, tubs and growing bags,  potato growing compost, and  fertilizer, follow these links. text-icon

Types of Potato Planter - Tubs, Bags & Containers...
My Trial and Error...

First I used large tough black polythene bags and rolled up the sides gradually as they were filled. I made a soil mix from garden compost and garden soil with added organic fertilizer - but don't underestimate the work involved in mixing your own soil / compost and filling the bags.

Nowadays organic potato growing compost is readily available for gardeners and much lighter than soil.

Some gardeners reckon that plastic prevents sufficient air getting to the roots. Most potato grow bags are made of porous woven material and now I avoid using ordinary plastic sheet bags even if they claim to be potato bags.
I avoid clay pots not least because they are heavy and fragile.

But I don't find any problems using good light compost in these Giant Sized Potato Buckets or the Potato Success Kit. The buckets have drainage holes an inch or so from the bottom. They can both be used for growing other vegetables such as carrots, lettuce, and broccoli.

Giant sized potato buckets are tough and long lasting. When I'm not using mine I can stack them inside each other. The bags fold away after use. But they can be in use all year around like this:-

Note:- Your potato planters need never be empty.

All Year Around Potato Season.

  • Start short season early potatoes indoors around Christmas to early new year.
  • When shoots appear move cotainers out into the light of your polytunnel, greenhouse or conservatory.
  • After last frost you can move your planters outside.
  • Harvest your new potatoes as early as June perhaps.
  • Then in August fill the potato planters again and replant with the same short season varieties.
  • Before first frost bring your pototo tubs into your greenhouse, polytunnel or conservatory.
  • Harvest your new potatoes by Chrismas.
  • You're ready for replanting again in the new year.
  • Note:- Potato planters supplement your garden maincrop,
  • extend the fresh potato season,
  • provide garden potatoes in the years when you give your garden earth a rest.

All wrap around potato planter are a nice innovation for patios that give quick access to your new potatoes.

My first specialised potato planter was the 80 Litre Potato Growing Barrel. It's made of a flexible corrugated material with stiff sides that fold flat when not in use. The sides pull up to give direct access to the potatoes growing near the bottom. It looks attractive on the patio but a little harder to move around.
See my potato barrel with crop & potato tubs pictured above right >>

MOST IMPORTANT: give your potatoes a moisture holding compost and keep them well-watered and regularly fed with high potash potato or tomato liquid feeds as they are growing.

Preparing Containers And Planting Up

New Potatoes

This attractive pink blotched potato is 'Osprey'. Select compact quick to mature potato varieties such as 'Swift'... ...

  • Fill your potato planter or potato growing bag to about 4-5 inches deep with your compost.
    Place them in a frost free place - greenhouse, polytunnel or conservatory - but not over 10oC,
  • Your seed potatoes are ready for planting when they have robust 1 inch long shoots - no more than 3 per tuber,
  • Press the chitted seed potatoes (shoots uppermost) into the compost in your potato planter. Use about 4 or 5 tubers per container from compact potato varieties. Large (10inch) plant pot sized containers may grow one potato plant each,

  • Watering with liquid seaweed helps - cover potato shoot tip with 1 inch of compost,
  • As the potato shoots emerge keep adding your enriched compost so no more than a few inches of shoot remains exposed,
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  • You'll need to move the potato planters into their final position before they get too heavy,
    It is important not to leave them in too warm a situation as this turns potato tubers into leaves,
    A polytunnel may be a productive situation early in the season, but it is important to have cool night temperatures,
    If your potato planters are outside from day one, a fleece cover will protect the plants from frost when likely,

  • Now it's important to keep the compost in potato planters adequately watered, especially in dry spells - check them regularly (indeed every day).
  • Also, regularly water with potassium rich potato feeds, such as liquid seaweed, tomato fertilizer...
  • Your potato plants may need staking up to support them if you didn't choose a compact growing variety.
  • By using rich compost, liquid feeds and adequate watering you can produce prize winning potato tubers unscathed by pests and disease.

Fresh Home Grown Potatoes for Christmas

  • Potato varieties grown for late potatoes are in fact 'early' varieties because they can produce a crop in 3 months - i.e. from August to the end of November,
  • You may find it convenient to buy a few extra tubers of an 'early' variety, hold them back in a cool dry place, and chit them after your late maincrop varieties for planting in August,
    But specially prepared late potatoes are available to buy from summer.

  • Planting is done during August - early September. Don't delay, they need enough growing time before sun down,
  • Space freed up in potato grow bags and potato tubs after July's harvest of 'first earlies' is normally used for planting this late crop,
  • Now you will bring your tubs and containers into a cool greenhouse or conservatory so you can extend the growing season to get more or bigger potatoes,
  • When the leaves die down you can cut the haulms away for composting. Your potatoes will store nicely in the container compost even outside until you need them.

Container Grown Potatoes In Brief

Start them inside and bring them outside when the frosty nights have finished and vice versa in the autumn to prolong the growing season. Even small 12inch containers will fill-up small gaps in your potato crop.

But for the smaller cropping early potatoes the flexibility of the potato bags, tubs and bins, is outstanding. Here again are the links to potato buckets and growing bags, and potato growing compost. icon

MOST IMPORTANT: give your potatoes a moisture holding compost and keep them well-watered and regularly fed with high potash potato or tomato liquid feeds as they are growing.

Garden Gate

My Neighbour's Garden Plots

A Survivalist explains how to harvest potatoes. But only 6 tubers per plant. Avoid growing long & short season spuds in the same row.

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By Michael E. J. Scott.
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