Potatoes are very easy to grow but if you have limited space in a townhouse garden, small courtyard or even an apartment balcony then don't be deterred.
Just create a vertical bed for them and you'll be able to yield around 10-15 kilos from each 'stack'.
You can make your container from a wide variety of materials:
- from a stack of car tyres - practical but not pretty,
- hessian sacks - cheap, practical and looks good
- nylon garden grow bags or sacks,
- re-purposed trash cans or laundry baskets with drainage holes drilled,
- or even, the most simple of all, a roll of chicken wire filled with straw and soil.
Which ever one you chose, start with a layer of straw at the bottom then add a layer of compost and another of soil on top.
Press your seed potatoes into the soil with the sprout pointing upwards and cover with one more layer of soil.
Give it a sprinkle of water and within a week or so you'll see some green foliage starting to poke through.
When they are around 10-15cms tall you can think about adding another layer.
The process is like building an apartment block, each storey contains new layers of straw, compost and soil to carry your next addition of seed potatoes.
If you are using a hessian sack or growbag then roll up the sides as you add more layers - around three to four will be ideal, anymore and it will get a bit top heavy and be in danger of toppling over.
The first layer will keep on growing upwards in search of daylight - the stalks growing past the subsequent layers.
If you have used a good mix of compost, straw and soil then your 'Potato Tower' will retain enough moisture that will mean you don't need to water it much at all. A light sprinkle once a week in averagely warm weather will be more than enough. If it is very hot and dry then increase the amounts a little more but don't overdo the water as it will encourage the tuber cores to rot from the centre out and there's nothing worse than harvesting a good crop to find that they are brown and rotten in the middle.
When the foliage starts to go yellow and wilt (generally after flowering) you know they'll be ready to harvest. Now this is the messiest part of the operation - thrust your hands in and pull the tubers out or empty it all out onto the ground to pick out your lovely fresh new potatoes.
BUT WAIT - THERE's MORE
There's one other container format that is perhaps the best of all but requires a bit more effort to make.
It is quite simple however and consists of frour upright posts with horizontal slats attached to it on all four sides.
It is best to make the back to it's full height before you start then add enough slats on the other three sides to contain your current new layer as you go upwards.
All slats can be nailed to the posts EXCEPT the front ones - use screws here, then when the bottom layer is ready you can unscrew the front slat to reach in and remove the mature potatoes while the others above continue to grow.
As a container it looks good, is neat and tidy and can be used over and over again, so the extra effort will be well worth it.