Growing potatoes the 'easy way'
What you need
Bag or bucket to hold approx 10ltrs
Compost or soil or a mix of both
Make sure the container (Bag or bucket) has drainage holes in the bottom.
Fill the container with your chosen growing media (Soil compost mix) incorporating a handful of general fertilizer with the mix.
Make a hole with your hand in the middle of the growing media within the container and drop the potato into the hole, resting close to the bottom of the bag.
Place the container in a greenhouse or cold frame if early in the year. They can remain in the covered area for 4 - 5 weeks allowing the weather to warm up. From the middle of April onwards the container should be placed in it's final position to grow on to maturity.
Containers can be placed on the soil in the garden. Work the land as if you would normally for potatoes, putting in manure and fertilizer, then dig a trench 10cm deep and 30cm wide. Place the container in this trench and bring the soil back around the container. This allows the roots from the potato to enter the soil through the drainage holes and feed from the soil, as well as the compost in the container.
An alternative is to place the container on a patio or other hardstanding. If choosing this method it is advisable to stand the container in a second container with at least 10cm of 'sharp sand' or gravel to allow the roots to spread. Tomato feed can be used weekly to nourish the roots. The potatoes will form in the container.
After 10-12 weeks check to see if the potatoes are large enough to eat. Do this by gently feeling the compost or the sides of the container.
When the potatoes are a satisfactory size. Cut off the green 'haulms' and then empty the container onto a suitable surface. One potato will produce 1.5kg after 12 weeks of growth. If left to grow on it is possible to produce 4-5kg of mature potatoes.
Potatoes do not like lime so avoid soil that is too alkaline. They will develop 'potato scab' which does not look good but this does not render them inedible.
Potato blight is the main disease to attack potatoes. Once it is detected on the leaves no spray or treatment will cure, so remove all the foliage and leave the potatoes in the container until needed. They will keep for a number of weeks this way but will undergo no further growth.
First and second earlies perform best with this method.
Adrian Read FNVS