If you garden with primary school children you can register for free seed potatoes from the Potato Council.
It’s too late for this year but you can be uber-organised and register now for 2014 🙂
Here’s proof, if you needed it, that growing your own doesn’t need to be expensive or require lots of specialist equipment.
We’re growing potatoes on the patio in a bag of compost. Not the prettiest sight*, we admit, but it’s simple and cheap. Also suitable for balconies, concrete-covered back yards or any tiny outside space that gets a bit of sun.
We chose Rocket seed potatoes – good for containers because the foliage doesn’t get too big (our previous attempts at patio potatoes were very top heavy and unstable). If you’ve never grown potatoes before, these are a good choice as they’re fairly speedy to produce reasonable sized potatoes.
We left our seed potatoes on a tray in the dining room (any light and fairly cool room will do) for a couple of weeks until they started sprouting.
We bought a standard bag of multi-purpose compost, about 50 litres from memory. We removed around 2/3rds of the compost from the bag and punched four or five small holes in the bottom with a pair of scissors to allow water to drain and to prevent the potatoes rotting.
We placed 3 seed potatoes on top of the compost in the bag, with the sprouts facing upwards, and covered with more compost so that the bag was about half full.
We watered every time the compost looked like it was drying out. Then, as the stems and leaves emerged, we gradually added more compost to the bag until it was about 2/rds full (this stops the developing potatoes turning green with the light).
For the sake of simplicity we haven’t fed the potato plants at all even though this would probably increase yields.
Rocket potatoes can be ready to harvest as soon as 2 months after planting. We’ll start having a gentle dig in the top of the compost soon to see if the potatoes might be ready.
* If you’re worried about appearance, you could completely empty the bag of compost before you start and turn it inside out so that the black inner is on the outside. A bit more work but it may even speed up the whole potato growing process by warming the compost slightly.