Probably the most satisfying thing to come out of my garden this year were my potatoes. My garden is entirely containered. I don’t have any outdoor patch of earth to plant in, so it’s always imperative that whatever goes in must be easily maintained in a confined space. Potatoes are great for that. All you need is a relatively deep pot, maybe a foot deep. You can get seed tubers from most garden centres or on-line garden shops, but I just used three organic spud from the grocery store. To prepare them, I cut each potato into smaller pieces, taking care to keep an eye at the centre of each one. Then I lined my pot with some soil, arranged the potatoes about an inch apart, and covered them with about half an inch of compost.
Potatoes begin to sprout quickly, very soon little green shoots could be seen poking through the compost. As the shoots came up, I covered them over with more compost. This actually encourages both the shoots to grow and small tubers to form. Every morning, I’d potter about, cup of coffee in hand to water my garden and top up the soil over the potato shoots.
Not all of the eyes took, but I ended up with five strong shoots, which grew and grew until eventually they reached the top of the plant pot and all I could do was water and wait. The plants seemed to be enormous! Atop strong, thick stalks sat a collection of small delicately purple flowers, which traced the sun’s path. But still I waited. About three months, or eleven weeks later, and after much pestering from Matthew, I finally took a trowel to them.
Although I usually envy Lou her lovely large garden, it would have driven me mad to have had to dig through a bed looking for the fruits of my labour. Using the container meant I just had to tip the thing out onto my counter top and split the webbed soil. I lined the counter top with two compostable bags to catch the soil and dug in. There were loads! All hanging from little rooty umbilical cords, waiting for me to find them. To my great surprise they weren’t really muddy, so it was easy to spot them; I think it took about half an hour to get them all.
Et, voila! A perfect little crop of perfect little potatoes. I didn’t get as many as I might have done in a bed, and I didn’t get any big baking potatoes-sozed monsters, but they made were the best-tasting roasties I’ve ever eaten.
As experiments go, this was by far one of the more successful. And, by laying those bags down, I was able to scoop up most of the soil from the plant pot and add it to my compost bin to refresh for the next project. I think I just missed planting another crop in time for Christmas, but come February/March I reckon they’ll be the first thing in the soil. My goal is to eventually be able to supply us with potatoes year round, but I think that really will take more than a couple of containers.