In February, I planted a few seed potatoes, (Orla, Charlotte and Blue Danube,) in garden centre bought potato planter bags. To start with, I put a seaweed layer at the bottom of each bag, followed by a 50/50 mix of garden compost and soil to fill about half the bag. One, or at most two, seed potatoes were sown in the middle of each bag. The bags were watered and placed inside the patio door on an old election poster to protect the kitchen floor! Regular watering of bag grown potatoes is a key factor in getting a good yield.
Recently in March, I planted a few more potato bags with Lumper and Colleen varieties. Hopefully in April, maybe May, the risk of frost will have passed. Once the patio is frost free, I can shift these potato planter bags outside to grow on and get an early harvest in June, before the blight season begins in earnest. When the potato plants grow taller than the rim of the bags, I will earth up each plant with that 50/50 mix of compost and soil to increase the number of tubers growing out from the stem of each plant.
After the potatoes flower, and the flowers wither, it will be time to tip out the potato plant, soil and all and retrieve the harvest. The resulting soil in which the poatoes grew will be an ideal soil to grow other container grown veg like courgettes or peas or beans or carrots or lettuce or radishes, etc. If I had more space, I would certainly be planting seed potatoes in the open garden soil later when frost has passed, in drills, or using the Aran Bed method, as well as in bags for an early crop.
Unusual organic seed varieties are still available from Sonairte, the Eco-Visitor Centre and Gardens, Laytown, Co. Meath,
www.sonairte.ie. If you can’t get to Laytown, then the Sonairte stand at the Dublin Food Co-Op, Newmarket, Dublin 8, on a Saturday is another place to pick up a bag or two of organic seed potatoes. They are €6 a bag or 2 bags for m€10.
The varietes available are Colleen, Toluca, Sarpo Axona, Bionica, Charlottte, Remarka, Sante, Sarpo Mira, Cara, Desiree, Robinta.