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Planting Container-grown Potatoes in Perennial Borders

June 13, 2009


Potatoes are easy to grow and can last a long time with proper storage.  You can plant them from seed potatoes or buy container-grown plants from your local nursery.  Until the last few years, I’ve preferred perennial borders over the maintenance of a vegetable garden.  However this season, I’ve been trading out more and more perennials for edibles in my backyard perennial beds.  I don’t have a lot of space to make rows of raised beds and I refuse to clear cut all my pretties to start a veggie garden from scratch.  So here’s another photo diary, this time potatoes, of how I squeeze in edibles where I can in my perennial borders [my last post, Controlling Slugs and Snails in the Garden, highlights my salad, spinach and cucumber gardens].

Quick Potato Facts

  • Grows best in a sunny site with fertile, fast-draining soil
  • Cool-season annual and not frost hardy
  • Heavy feeders and prefer a soil pH below 5.5
  • High in Vitamin C
  • Compatible companions: corn or pumpkins

Step-by-step Planting Instructions

First clear all the weeds, rocks and trim back any low hanging branches.  Then amend the soil with lots of well-seasoned manure [I prefer to use my “claw tool” (lower right of photo) to loosen up the soil first then dig in the chicken manure].  Water the container plants well before planting in the ground.


Preferably, holes for container-grown plants should not be dug deeper than the depth of the root ball.  Dig holes three times the width of the root ball to encourage good root growth.  If you dig a hole too deep, no worries, just tamp the bottom of the hole to firm up the soil to keep the plants from settling when you water.  [Here I used my trusty multi-purpose soil scoop to quickly dig the two holes]


Place the plants in the holes to make sure the hole is deep enough before you start back filling with soil.


You should loosen up the compacted root balls of any container-grown plant with your fingers before placing in the ground to help the roots spread out in the soil [I love to use my West County Work Gloves when digging around in the dirt].


Spread out the roots as you place the plant in the hole, then back fill the hole with soil making sure you cover up the root ball.  Keep adding more soil, commonly referred to as earthing up or hilling up, as the plant matures to protect the growing spuds from the sun.  Spuds that get sun exposure from the sun will turn green which make them poisonous (If you harvest partly green potatoes, cut of the green parts before cooking).


Water the plants thoroughly through the growing season to keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged.  Also, you should weed regularly as to not disturb the growing spud roots by ripping out huge dandelions or other annoyingly gigantic weeds.


Here’s the finish potato vignette surrounded by (from left) Spirea ‘gold mound’ (not pictured), irises, vine maple, heavenly bamboo and black-eyed susan.  The only add now is a 3 inch layer of mulch to help keep the soil moist in between waterings.


Here’s a helpful video on How To Harvest Potatoes

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Auntie Jo Jo permalink
    June 14, 2009 7:36 am

    Great post. I have been wanting to add potatoes to my garden but I can’t find them anywhere! I was thinking I would just go to Whole Foods and buy a couple and quarter them and throw them in the ground! Looking forward to watching yours grow and seeing the harvest!

  2. June 15, 2009 3:59 pm

    How long have you had your West County work gloves? I’ve had bad luck with them, getting holes after just a few months, and so has a friend of mine who’s a hobby gardener, not a pro (like me!).

    • June 15, 2009 4:38 pm

      I’ve had West County gloves for about a year now. However, I’m a cheater because I have 3 pairs so I don’t wear out just one pair and because I misplace them all the time. I’m also a recovering finger-digger. I force myself to use tools instead of digging holes with my fingers. I used to wear out so many finger tips.

      Do I dare ask if you and your friend are finger-diggers?

  3. June 15, 2009 4:45 pm

    I am definitely NOT a finger digger; a trowel is a girl’s best friend! Besides, my gloves wore out at the seam where the thumb joined the rest of the hand.

    • June 15, 2009 4:49 pm

      Well that is unacceptable! How long did you have them? Where did you buy them? I think you deserve a replacement. Would you even want another pair?

      Would you care if I shared your feedback with the company? They are pretty good company.

  4. June 15, 2009 5:05 pm

    Less than six months. They were freebies from West County (GWA symposium!), to whom I have already spoken about the disappointment. I’m trying my second pair, which I only use when my primary gloves are so soaked or dirty I can’t bear to put them on. Which is about once a week. So they should last forever. Couldn’t recommend them though.

    • June 15, 2009 5:13 pm

      What are your favorite brand of gloves? I would be interested in trying them. Sorry to hear that you’ve had a bad experience.

      Sidebar: looking into GWA. When will you be there?


  1. Update: Container Grown Potatoes Planted in Perennial Borders « Nest In Style

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