Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Grow Potatoes with the London Vegetable Garden!

Forgive the frequency with which these blog posts are coming; however I'm keen to rattle off a few before a weekend that will be spent moving, sorting out a million different things and waiting for internet access! Anyway, as promised, here's the very first vegetable venture of 2010 – and it's one that any of you with a balcony, patio or generous doorstep can join me in as well.

When I knew that I'd be growing vegetables on an allotment this summer, my thoughts initially turned to new possibilities, of which the humble potato was one! The potato is a tuberous crop, which means that the actual potato is an edible 'tuber' which supports the potato plant by storing nutrients. Following rice, wheat and maize, potatoes are the world's fourth-largest food crop, meaning the plants I'm attempting to grow this summer really will be the 'staple' of the London Vegetable Garden allotment.

Now, rather ironically considering that I now have an allotment in which to play (you can take the man away from the balcony, but not the balcony from the man...), I'll be planting my potatoes in these dedicated potato-growing bags, which are designed for small spaces such as balconies and patios – perfect for urban vegetable gardeners with minimal space.

These can be purchased online and in all good gardening shops relatively cheaply; I purchased these three bags from eBay for £6.99 (plus £2.99 delivery), so they're easy to get hold of. Now, if you have a tiny balcony or patio, there's no reason at all why you can't go out, buy some of these bags and have a go just like me! If anything, a balcony or doorstep affords a degree of shelter, whereas my potatoes will be well and truly out in the open, but hopefully the results will be exactly the same.

The only other thing you'll require to have a go at growing your own potatoes (aside from compost and soil!) are some seed potatoes! Now, I have bought two packets – one 'first early' variety, 'Rocket', which should crop in early summer, and a 'main crop', 'Juliette', which crops in late summer. By sowing a 'first crop' and a 'main crop', you're hopefully guaranteed a steady supply of potatoes throughout the summer as opposed to a huge harvest condensed into a short timeframe!

Whilst growing your own vegetables obviously has a positive effect upon the environment (and tastes great!), it can also save you some considerable money. The total cost of my potato project is as follows:

3 x potato-growing bags delivered: £9.99
1 x bag of 'Rocket' potato seeds: £1.99
1 x bag of 'Juliette' potato seeds: £1.99

TOTAL COST: £13.97

I shall also revisit this cost come the autumn and see just how much I have saved, providing I actually manage to grow some potatoes... it'll either be an incredible cost-saving venture or an exercise in growing the UK's most expensive potatoes!

I shall soon be 'chitting' these potatoes, which involves exposing the seed potatoes to light in order for them to sprout shoots and take better when planted. Needless to say, I'm waiting until I'm in the new house on Friday before setting these potato seeds up and getting started properly, which of course, will all be recorded here at the London Vegetable Garden for your perusing pleasure!

Until then, why not think about growing potatoes on your balcony? Chris, over at Elevated Agriculture, is also having an attempt on his balcony, using similar grow bags, so there really is nothing to stop you having a go. Good luck – I hope you'll all give it some thought! And remember, check back next week for some updates and further advice!


  1. Hi Calum

    I'm growing potatoes for the first time too. I've started chitting my potatoes, but I haven't decided what I'll be growing them in yet. The bags you bought look good!

    Best of luck with your move.


  2. I have found this method to not be as fruitfull as they claim but I have always failed to either keep them properly watered or fed.

    This year as I finally have the lotty space to accomadate them i am finally growing them in the ground.

    The soil needed to fill those bags are a lot, so a good tip that might help in that department would be to top up the bags with straw/ shredded paper and grass clippings mixture.

    Good luck and I hope you have better success with this growing method than I had in the past.

  3. Hiya,

    I am also a Potato Bag Virgin! - I will follow your progress intently - look forward to the updates (I will also let you know how I get on)

    Great blog by the way only found it yesterday!


  4. Of course, you don't have to purchase specific potato bags. You can just use an old compost bag with some drainage holes in the bottom. This would also cut down on the cost.

  5. Great.
    do you use coir for any of the applications?

    Coir Green

  6. Yes these garden bags are excellent for growing potatoes in. The bags are UV protected so they won't go brittle in the sun. They are also pretty much completely rot proof. We sell them on our website gardenbags.net Garden Bags

  7. Always go for the woven polypropylene garden bags. They are much stronger.



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