Growing pototoes in bags seemed to be a popular thing this year. Our sack of eaters we had from our farmer were already ready to sprout when he gave them to us -we could always palnt them, he suggested.
We haven't grown much veg the last couple of years, for one reason or another, and we never did grow spuds; all those blight susceptible things just seemed too problematical. However, when there seemed to be a lot of talk about potato bags, I thought I'd try it. We always overbuy on compost, so we had plenty of that about, and the aforesaid sprouty potatoes, and then there are these woven plastic sacks which the Royal Mail in the UK sometimes generously and unnecessarily supply us with, usually with an already perfectly adequately wrapped small parcel containing a book inside. They've always looked like they ought to be reusable, but we hadn't yet thought what for.
So all the components were already in our possession. I put some straw in the bottom ( another thing we still have in abundance from our long-past days of keeping hens), a layer of compost, five or six of the most promising sprouty spuds, and then more compost. I watered them well and stood them on the terrace.
After a bit some green plants came up. You let them grow and then earth them up with some more compost, unrolling the bag top as you go. This bit always reminds me of a family anecdote about an old Norfolk man who saw someone somewhere whom my parents knew earthing up his potatoes and asked ' Are ye moulderin arn her up?'
Here they are at a fairly early stage of their growth.
I repeated this maybe four times, then left them to grow. When the plant, it's called a haulm, goes manky yellow and dies back, after two or three months, you can harvest them. Which we did today.
Large quantities of compost were shaken out into the wheelbarrow, with nerry a sign of a tater, but then towards the bottom they started to show themselves. In all there were just on two kilos, four and a bit pounds, which wasn't much for all the volume of compost, but they were clean and look good.
I brushed the loose compost off them with a clean paintbrush - a very useful tool for all manner of purposes, including cleaning the computer keyboard, though you should make sure it's free of potato compost first - and stored them in a big paper bag.
Verdict - if you buy potato-growing bags, compost and seed potatoes specially, it probably isn't worth it, except for the fun of growing things - finding creamy new potatoes in among black soil is like finding presents in a bran tub. As most of the crop was in the bottom part of the bag, it seems to me the last couple of additions of soil were wasted, you could probably do as well just using big pots and adding much less. Most of the people I've spoken to who have tried it, or the famous Bob Flowerdew tyre stack method, tend to agree it's not a very economically sensible way of getting potatoes, they didn't have many. On the other hand, for me using stuff I'd already got, it was quite fun. The compost can be used again elsewhere, as it still looks and smells fine. Also. you can have delicious new potatoes at almost any time of year, and it doesn't take up much room.
So that's supper sorted out. We'll have them with just some chopped spring onions (scallions) , and maybe something garlicky, since we're not planning on seeing anyone else for a day or so.