Planting potatoes

Planting potatoes in buckets: seven tips for the balcony allotment

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Your own potato harvest – balcony-style. It’s really not difficult to plant potatoes in buckets. These tubers, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, are not demanding, and you will be rewarded for your efforts later when you get to taste them.

1. The location

Do you want to give balcony farming a go? Growing potatoes is the best way to start. You can't really go wrong with potatoes. Growing potatoes is child’s play and you will hopefully have a plentiful harvest. Choosing the right location helps you to lay the right foundations for this. If you want to have a go at planting potatoes yourself, choose a sunny spot on your balcony. Your little charges will like a location that is bright and warm.

2. Timing

It’s best to start your project in the spring when frost is no longer a concern. March or April is usually the best time. If it’s still too icy in March or April, then May is OK too.

3. The potatoes

When it comes to planting, you need mature, germinating tubers. Basically, one variety of potato is as good as any other. However, your tuber should not have been treated with antibiotic products, so seed potatoes or organic specimens are perfect. There are a dozens of varieties to choose from. Obviously you can find the regular varieties in every supermarket or at the weekly market. If you are set on planting unusual specimens such as rare or old varieties, it is worth a visit to a delicatessen or a specialist provider. You can also buy these over the Internet. Incidentally, potatoes belong to the nightshade family and germinate from their eyes. So the more eyes your potatoes have, the better.

4. Germination

If your ideal candidates have not yet developed any vital shoots, you can do something to help. This means putting them in a flat container, such as a wooden box. Make sure there is enough distance between them. The seeds are very sensitive and easily break when touched. Place the container in your house in a bright, relatively cool place. The tubers will develop shoots within the space of a few days. Now it’s time to plant the potatoes!

5. The container

Buckets are ideal for growing potatoes, but you don’t have to use buckets. It’s also worth considering other containers such as small barrels, planting bags or larger cans. In any case, it’s important that your potatoes’ nursery is higher than it is wide. Optimal height ranges between 40 and 80 centimetres.

Make sure that there are holes in the bottom of the container so that rain and irrigation water can run off. If there aren’t holes in the container already, you need to drill or pierce holes in the bottom. Potatoes really cannot tolerate being water-logged.

Planting potatoes

6. Planting potatoes in buckets

You need to ensure that you use the usual materials, i.e. pottery shards, expanded clay or rough gravel, to provide drainage which is approximately five centimetres high in the bucket. On top of this, place a ten-centimetre thick layer of potting soil. This should be both nourishing and loose. You can add some sand, compost or primary rock powder to the substrate.

In this, place the potatoes so that the shoots are facing upwards. There should be three to five tubers, depending on the size of the bucket. Ensure that the tubers aren’t touching and that they are placed at least five centimetres apart. Then cover them completely with soil. Over the course of time, the seedlings will grow upwards and will re-emerge into the light of day. Wait until they have grown to approximately ten centimetres and completely cover with substrate again. Do this until the potato flower is showing and the leaves are starting to wilt. The reason for this is that the tubers grow so that they almost fill the layer. This means that at each level, you get another layer of potatoes.

You should water the plants about once a week until the growth starts to die. The soil should never dry out, so water them more often during a heat wave.

7. Harvesting potatoes in a bucket

Growing potatoes yourself means harvesting them yourself. The best time for harvesting potatoes is between July and October, depending on the variety of potato. Just dig them out of the soil. If everything has gone smoothly, you will find tubers in layers. You can then use the substrate for other plants or for the next season.