Plant Container Potatoes for Christmas

Charlotte PotatoesThere is nothing better than the feeling of digging up your own potatoes and feeding them to your family and/or friends for Christmas dinner. Charlotte and Maris Peer potatoes are two of the varieties that can be planted from the middle of June through to late July. Rather than planting these into the ground, it is best to plant them in containers or grow bags. These can then be moved into a covered space if blight or early frost threatens the plants.

These late plantings allow you to have fresh-dug potatoes for your Christmas meals, rather than relying on maincrop potatoes lasting in storage all that time. Planting potatoes in mid-summer for Christmas cropping is becoming more and more popular. This removes the problems attendant with storing potatoes over the winter months.

A grow bag or container of around 40 litres can be filled with compost and will be large enough to accommodate five seed potatoes. It is not essential to chit seed potatoes at this time of year since the warmer temperatures of the summer will allow the plants to grow swiftly.

It is important to keep the growing medium moist but not to overwater. If the compost becomes too saturated then it can become compacted and oxygen depleted. This can make it difficult for the tubers to grow. When you get the watering regime right, however, you can enjoy the delicious taste of new potatoes throughout the winter months.

Note that you cannot replant first early potatoes harvested this month because these will still be in a long dormant phase that they go through after harvesting. You can purchase seed potatoes that have been kept in cold storage or, next year, you could hold back the potatoes yourself from the ones bought in late winter. These will develop long and rather fragile sprouts when kept in a cool and light place through the spring and early summer. You will, however, have to check these regularly as there could be a risk of aphid infestation.

Growing Potatoes in A BagMost types of new potato will take around 12 weeks to grow to maturity. If there are not 12 weeks left before your first predicted frost date for the plants to grow then you will need to be able to bring the plants under cover to continue their growth. Container growing allows you to bring the potatoes into a polytunnel, greenhouse or a bright conservatory or porch as winter approaches. If this is not possible then you may be able to use horticultural fleece to protect your plants, though blight in late summer or early autumn could threaten plants grown outdoors.

Why not consider planting some potatoes now, so you too can enjoy new potatoes on Christmas day?