Planting Container-grown Potatoes in Perennial Borders
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