I like to try different varieties every year and this time have gone for Lady Christl, Nicola, Carlingford and Maris Peer in addition to the old favourites Charlotte. I’m also going to risk some maincrops and have opted for Harlequin and Maris Piper. There was no blight in this area last year so I’m hoping for similar weather and a succesful maincrop.
Last year, as an experiment, I grew some of the crop in plastic flower buckets just to see if it would work. The answer is yes it did and I was surprised at the yields although I wouldn’t want to grow a maincrop variety because of the limited space available in the container. Additionally, it turned out to be the most economic use of garden space as the plants grow upwards instead of spreading out and can be spaced much more closely.
First I drew out a trench with a draw hoe then half-filled it with well-rotted compost. Then I arranged the empty flower buckets with their bases cut out on top of the compost and back-filled the trench and around the buckets with the original soil. This anchors the buckets and stops them blowing away. A couple of inches of compost with a sprinkle of BFB in each bucket made a bed for each chitted seed potato which was then planted and covered with more compost. Subsequent ‘earthing-up’ was done with the same material mixed with grass clippings. My reason for using this was that it is quite light and will allow plenty of room for the tubers to develop. It may be possible to use ordinary soil but as mine is a rather heavy I didn’t want to impede the tuber development.
Feeding was done with my home-made seaweed concoction but any general purpose feed would probably do.
The varieties I chose were Dunluce, Charlotte and Kestrel and yields averaged just over 2lbs or 1kg per bucket with one seed potato.
There are several advantages that I can see for this method. To harvest them simply tip out the bucket and the potatoes come out very clean, with no digging. You are unlikely to get volunteers springing up next year. They are less likely to suffer pest damage and you can actually get as good, if not better yield in a given area than using traditional spacing. This applies to earlies and would not be efficient for maincrop as they require much more room to expand.
I hope the pictures are self explanatory. The third one is the yield of charlotte from one tub.