This is a comparison of the various potato growing techniques we use at ecopunk.
1) Here we see potato plants thriving in a polytunnel. Already about four feet high, gobbling earthing-up material as new shoots sprout up everywhere. A problem we see with polytunnel growing is the "bolted" tuber, a tuber that grows too quickly and is hollow in places. However, yield is not affected because of the excellent growing conditions.
2) Compare the above photo with the next with plants growing outside the polytunnel. They are the same variety and were planted at the same time.
3) One problem with growing potatoes in a polytunnel is that they are uncontrollable. They grow quickly and plant stems bend over under their own weight and start laying down roots and hence, new tubers, everywhere.
To get round this problem we are experimenting with growing potatoes in tubs and tyres so the plants can grow in a more controlled fashion. Previous year's potatoes grew all over the place and many potatoes were missed during harvest.
In the next photo, we see a potato plant growing in three old car tyres piled on top of each other. The seed potato started inside the bottom tyre and as the plant grew tyres were added with additional compost too.
4) The problem with this method is that the tyres are small. The potato plant is overly constrained. It is hard to "earth up" the plant as compost is not easily squeezed into the rim of the tyre. Also, it is easy to damage the plant when putting on another tyre and earthing up.
Here we see a potato plant growing in a tub. There is plenty of room in the tub to earth up whilst at the same time constraining plant growth. The growth is vigorous, being inside the polytunnel, but the crop will all be found inside the tub at harvest time and nothing will be lost
Planting potatoes directly into the soil is best when you have plenty of space. If you try to cram too many seed potatoes into a small area then each plant will compete for the light. Plants will then grow vertically too quickly and you will only get a small crop of small sized potatoes.
Container growing of potatoes is ideal for the small garden. Each plant's growth is constrained to a small vertical area. You can use deep containers to give plenty of space for three or four seed potatoes to grow. I find that the crop is heavier, with larger potatoes, when growing in containers compared to growing in a small plot of land.
Other advantages of container growing:
- No potatoes are lost as they are all easily found in the container.
- Earthing up is easier and less compost is required.
Other potato growing articles
Growing potato in tyres - everything you need to know
Storing potatoes - what to do with your potato harvest
Let us know
What are your experiences from growing potatoes?
Do you grow potatoes in containers too?
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