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How To Grow Potatoes on the Patio

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Did you know that the UK imports 350,000 tons of potatoes a year? And that many of them have been in storage for up to six months? Anyone who has ever grown their own potatoes will agree that there’s nothing like that fresh-from-the-garden taste of summer that the supermarket spud can never recapture. So just how easy is it to grow our own new potatoes if space is restricted?
What you'll need: 
Seed potatoes
Plastic tubs
Compost
1: 
Start to prepare half a dozen containers around the beginning of the year – 12 inch pots or cut down 5 gallon plastic containers with drainage holes - with a shallow layer of vegetable peelings, teabags, etc., before adding the compost. Organic matter generates warmth as it decomposes below the surface so keep it dry and store in a garage or outhouse until ready for planting.
2: 
Potatoes are grown from seed-potatoes and planted in February-March for summer harvesting. Use very early, first early and second early seed-potatoes – planning two containers of each. Garden centres will sell them this way if you ask when they’re not busy. You don’t have to buy in bulk. Mark which is which when planting.
3: 
Seed-potatoes perform best if they are ‘chitted’ before planting. This is the removal of all but three of the new shoots and allowing them to stand in a tray in a cool dry place, with new shoots upper-most for about two weeks.
4: 
When the new shoots look strong and healthy, place on top of the compost in the container (2 per 12 inch pot – 4 per larger container); cover with compost and water well. The pots can remain in a garage or outhouse until the green leaves begin to appear and moved outdoors when there is little risk of severe frost.
5: 
As soon as the leaves push through the compost, add another layer – this is called ‘earthing’. Wait until the leaves push through again, and add another layer of compost – do this until the container is full.
6: 
The secret is to keep the plants watered and fed weekly with good quality plant or tomato food.
7: 
Check for harvesting just as the flowers begin to form. Gently scrape a little of the compost away from the base of the foliage and pick potatoes that are the size of a bantam’s egg. You don’t need to dig them all at once.
Conclusion: 
Home-grown new potatoes have unequalled flavour and should be scrubbed or scraped – never peeled – and boiled in their skins. They are excellent served cold in salads, but are probably best when boiled whole in lightly salted water with a spring of fresh mint until tender. Serve them tossed in butter with chopped parsley or chives.

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