The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Growing First Early potatoes in the greenhouse


Photo: Chitting seed potatoes

Photo: Chitting seed potatoes

I never in my craziest dreams thought I’d be writing this post. As my fingers fly across the keyboard it’s sleeting outside. 

I’ve planted some Swift (First Early potatoes) in a potato bag in the greenhouse. If all goes well they should produce a crop by the end of March. This is not a moment of Cottage Smallholder madness, I found the advice on the Harrod Hoticultural site. John Harrison has written a series of great monthly grow your own articles for this site.  He is the author of Vegetable Growing Month by Month and also writes the comprehensive site Allotment Growing with his wife Jan.

The bubble wrap insulation inside the greenhouse is working a treat. Even when snow lies thick on the ground I only need to provide a small amount of extra heat to keep the temperature above zero inside the bubble wrapped walls. With the prospect of our very own new potatoes in March, Danny is now taking a keen interest in the weather forecast.

I also thought that I’ve give Paula’s idea a test run. This was one of her entries for our last gardening competition. She had an organic gardening friend who used leaves instead of soil in his potato growing containers with spectacular results. As you know, I have loads of leaves. Unlike compost these are free. Assuming that his spuds were initially set on soil, I put a six inch layer of damp potting compost at the bottom of the bag and a handful of organic bonemeal. Then I set 5 seed potatoes in the compost followed by a four inch layer of leaves. I planted the seed potatoes on a root day according to biodynamic principles.

I can’t wait to see the first shoots peeping through.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Domestic Executive

    Yes it’s interesting that you are in summer and that we are in winter.

    Very hard frost here at the moment. The chicken’s water fountain freezes over in just a few hours and the paraffin heater is on in the greenhouse 24/7.

    Hi Toffeeapple

    It’s tempting but I haven’t peaked so far – but then it has only been a few days!

    Hello S.o.L

    Ditto. All exciting stuff.

    Hello Mandi

    My instructions didn’t mention gravel – they are Unwin’s bags ? So thank you so much for the tip. I’m going to gently move my potato babies to another bag layered with gravel, soil and leaves. Also going to use a lot more bonemeal.

    Hi Joanna

    It’s so disappointing that the polytunnel is just a wooden shell. But perhaps it’s easier to start growing in it in the Spring so you can learn its foibles well before Winter begins.

    Hi Paula

    I don’t know when our maincrop potatoes will arrive – sometime in March I expect. That’s why I thought it would be fun to try out the bags.

    Hello Anne

    Oh good luck with your spuds. We grew Maris Piper last summer and they were wonderful.

    Hi Margaret

    Your boxes sound great and would be much more attractive than the bags. I grow quite a few things in containers too with varying levels of success. Best of luck with your containers this year.

    Hi Jo

    I’ve seen Pink Fir Apple in the garden centre this year.

    I’m so envious of your gardening emporium. I visit a handful of garden centres as not one ever fits the complete bill. The sort of old fashioned shop that you describe would be heaven for me.

  2. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    So far I’ve got nine different varieties to chit – first earlies; second earlies; maincrop & salad, so we should have loads of yummy potatoes to sustain us throughout the year.

    So far though I haven’t been able to track down our firm favourite – Pink Fir Apple. These knobbly, misshapen spuds have a taste, texture & blushing colour to die for.

    However our gem of a local garden centre – Trefhedyn – usually comes up trumps; so I’ll make the pilgrimage in the next week or so, if I can muster enough spare time.

    Like many of the shops in the lovely little market town of Newcastle Emlyn it has a modest, unassuming frontage….but is just like Mr Ben’s tailors, or Narnia’s wardrobe gateway; in that it opens up & seems to spread out for literally miles, revealing treasure upon treasure in the process. And (typical of Emlyn emporia) you can get all sorts of species, seeds, & – well, every horticultural accoutrement available – beyond your wildest dreams….or if not immediately on the capacious shelves, they get them for you: truly, gardeners’ Heaven.

  3. Margaret

    Im growing my first lot of potatoes this year, Im very excited about it. My husband had made me the boxes and lined them with plastic. We will put stones in the bottom and as each layer grows we have a box to add. We dont have a garden, which I would love to have, so everything has to be grown in pots, bags or boxes.
    Thanks for your suggestions

  4. How exciting! I am also growing potatoes in a bag this year. I chose Maris Pipers and cannot wait to see them!

  5. Good luck Fiona! I’m envious of your early start. The earliest my seed potatoes will ship is April. 🙁

  6. Well our ground may or may not be starting to thaw out by the time you are harvesting your potatoes, lol. Not much chance of putting anything in our poly tunnel yet, it is still just a wood frame but we have a cunning plan – well maybe!

  7. This is so weird as I have literally just 5 mins ago sat watching the video on how to plant up potato bags on suttons website as I brought a 3 grow bag pack ( and I already have a victorian potato barrel).
    I have tried years before and not really had the ‘bumper crops’ they promise. I had tried different seed pots and varying amounts of water, but hadn’t given them food or fertilizer ( which I have brought this year)
    The video is quite good and it tells you to put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the bags as the roots of the potatoes don’t like being in the wet but the plant need alot of water.
    If you want to watch the video go to suttons web site and find the 3 potato bag kit and the video is under the product details. I’m hoping to have better crops quantity per bag/barrel and of course I now have got 4 growing vessels compared to just 1.

  8. I cant wait to see how this turns out!

  9. Toffeeapple

    I wonder how long you’ll make yourself wait before checking for shoots?

  10. Domestic Executive

    It’s very strange to think that you’ll be harvesting your first potatoes at the same time I will take up my main crop. I admit my potatoes went in very late (Christmas Eve) but are romping away now in the wet and warm weather. It’s fascinating to compare gardening notes across the hemisphere divide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,228,763 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder