Apollo Potato Barrel
Perfect for those that have limited space or those that wish to grow their own potatoes on their patio or balcony.
The Apollo Potato Barrel has an attractive victorian style designed in a decorative terracotta finish.
It is made from a frost resistant polypropylene to ensure it is hard wearing and can be used season after season.
It measures 60cm in height and is 43cm in diameter and will hold up to 80 litres of compost.
Where to Place your Potato Barrel?
One of the great advantages of using the potato barrel is that you can commence the growing season earlier by starting them off indoors which can ensure you get very early potatoes.
Alternatively it could be left outdoors if you cover the top of the barrel with clear polythene to prevent the shoots from frosting.
The permanent site for the barrel should be in a sheltered and sunny position.
What Seed to Use and Pre Planting Tips?
Any seed can be used but most people using the potato barrel will opt to grow an early variety. Look out for seed marked as "EARLY" in your local garden centre.
To help maximise your harvest potential a chitting process is recommmended.
This is when you get your seeds and place about 5 of them on a dish in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Within a couple of weeks shoots about 1 inch (25cm) long should be coming out of the potatoes.
Planting Your Potatoes
You need 80 litres of a good general purpose compost (generally one very large bag). Do NOT use ordinary garden soil.
Pour 6 Inches (150mm) of compost into the bottom of the barrel and plant the 5 seed potatoes (shoots or eyees uppermost) about 2 Inches deep.
Position one potato seed in the centre of the barrel and the other 4 in opposite corners.
Do not soak the compost at this stage as this will tend to rot the tubers. Instead it should be kept just slightly damp,
If the weather is frosty you need to cover the shoots with newspaper to protect them but remove the paper as soon as the danger of frost has passed.
When the shoots have grown about 6 inches (150mm) high add a send layer of compost around the plants leaving just the tips of the stalks showing.
Repeat this process in layers of about 4 inches (100mm) until the compost and the shoots reach 1 Inch (25mm) below the top of the barrel.
Remember to water each layer but do not waterlog the compost.
As the main stem grows towards the top of the barrel it sends out potato bearing side shoots all the way up. These will eventually be crammed with delicious new potatoes.
The potato foilage will continue to grow unit it is 1 or 2 feet (30-60cm) above the top of the barrel.
Watering and Feeding your Potato Crop
Once the plants are well established the compost will need watering and feeding weekly with a high potash / low nitrogen soluble plant food. A propriety tomato fertiliser is ideal.
Do not skimp on the feeding or watering as potatoes are very greedy especially when confined to a barrel.
Harvesting Your Potato Crop
After a number of weeks the stalks will produce tiny white or pink flowers. This is the time to check to see if your potatoes are ready to harvest.
Lift up the slider using the hand holds provided, to reveal the four holes in the sides of the barrel.
The compost will not fall out because the roots will by now be packed together.
You will see the potatoes quite clearly, and if they are big enough, gently ease them out with your hands.
Take just enough for the table and close the slider again.
The potatoes will keep on growing until you have harvested the whole barrel.
If you follow the instructions carefully, you should grow a bumper crop (or even two crops) of delicious new potatoes in your first season.
How to Harvest Two Potato Crops in a Season
If you plant your first crop early enough, you can grow a second crop for harvesting in the Autumn.
Keep the rest of the seed potatoes in a cool place and replant the whole barrel after you have harvested your first crop.
This way, you can have new potatoes in the Autumn as well as in the Spring.
Any new shoots that have grown too long and spindly can be rubbed off, so that new 1 foot (25cm) shoots are produced ready for planting.
Don't forget to renew the compost.