Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The cost of growing potatoes in a small plot

The other day I made a start & planted my potatoes for this year. The only way I can grow a large selection in my little garden is in pots. Even then I'm hardly going to be self sufficient in them but I will be pretty much self sufficient in the nice little new ones.

It isn't a cost saving exercise far from it, it probably costs me far more to grow them than to buy them from the shop. You can't however put a price on emptying a tub of new potatoes that you grew yourself & cooking them after returning from work.

Last week Mike took me compost shopping & we bought for large bags for £12. That compost filled approx 22 tubs so that is all my early potatoes planted. Unfortunately (well for Mike anyway as I'm still banned from buying anything until the end of April) I need more compost. That will be another £12 at the weekend as I need to plant the main crop ones I bought from Gordale after the disastrous trip to Mold potato day.  
Anyway the costing so far - Compost £24, Seed Potatoes (56) £11 giving a total of £35 at the time of planting. The tubs I already had & I shall work any plant feed into the costing over time.

I'm trying to keep my compost buying down & could never produce enough in my small plot even with three compost bins. Home made compost tends to be spread on the garden anyway.

This year as I harvest each tub I'm going to follow the advice I read in Alys Fowlers Edible Garden book, the potato leaves (as long as they are not affected by blight) will be put at the bottom of a large tub & the used compost put on top of these. Once I have filled the tub with compost I'm going to sow Rye grass seed on top. This fixes nitrogen in the soil & I can cut the grass down & mix it in. I can re use this compost next year for the potatoes though I will mix some home made compost with it.

The new potatoes are planted one or two per tub & are filled up with compost. The main crop potatoes are planted in threes in larger square tubs, these are covered with compost but I will earth these up gradually as the green leaves show through.

Potatoes 2014

British Queen
Maris Peer
Charlotte
Estima
Golden Wonder
Pink Fir Apple
International Kidney
Winston

Enjoy of your day

41 comments:

  1. Hello Joanne,
    Even if the potatoes will have cost the equivalent of the economy of a small country, the taste of freshly dug new potatoes, as small as one likes, will be worth it. And, how wonderful to have so many interesting varieties, each with their own distinctive taste. Yum!

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    1. Yes, you can't put a cost on freshly harvested potatoes, however it is the environmental concerns over buying so much compost is troubling me at present.

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  2. I try to think of gardening as a hobby rather than growing food to save money as you could buy many of the things we grow cheaper in the supermarket, they don't taste as good though. If you compare what we spend on gardening compared to some other hobbies, it works out quite cheap. Even though I have an allotment, I've grown potatoes in containers as they were so badly damaged by slugs in the ground, but now I've got a new plot, I'm going to have another go with them in the ground. I'm still growing some in containers though.

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    1. It is definitely hobby on such a small scale & it is certainly cheaper than buying posh wool. I think I would feel better about it by growing in the ground & I will feel better next year if I am able to re use the compost than put it on the garden afterwards.

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  3. The cost of compost does make a huge difference. We spent £2 on about 25 seed potatoes and have planted them in the ground. We dug through a small amount of home grown compost and thats about it so far...

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    1. I wish I had enough space to devote to growing them in the ground but then it would be at the expense of other crops.

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  4. I do admire you all with your grow your own. It must be lovely. When I first moved to the country I dug myself a veg plot and for the first couple of years it was lovely to pop outside and grab a little gem. Now I work such long hours I just don't have the time but maybe I could start trying a few things in pots and see how that goes.

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    1. Oh Mitzi there are lots of things to grow in pots, my veg garden is small so I have to supplement it with pots of veg anyway.

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  5. I planted Rocket and Nadine this year, some in the garden and some in pots. There is no comparison to home grown new potatoes washed and cooked within minutes of coming out of the soil. I am a greedy pig for the first few days and have a plateful with butter and mint.

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    1. I've grown Rocket before but I don't think I've tried Nadine. We are the same with the first couple of harvests

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  6. It might cost more but homegrown potatoes taste in a whole other world to shop bought ones. Jealous of all your varieties!

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    1. You are right but over the year I will be comparing my harvests with an organic supplier. I'm sure mine would be cheaper then.

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  7. I agree with everyone else - growing "new" potatoes in pots is far from economical from the cost point of view, but it is still a lot cheaper (and much more rewarding) than many other forms of hobby. For instance, how much does it cost these days for a day's entertainment in a Theme Park? It's just a shame that commerical compost costs so much for something that is easy to produce from waste materials.The producers certainly understand the concept of Ripoff Britain!

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    1. It costs a shocking amount Mark I know that. We have been planning days out for the holidays. I think I will be selling my potato harvests to pay for them.

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  8. I have never reach good result on growing potatoes... :(

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  9. I wasn't going to grow any potatoes this year, but there is a single potato in the cupboard that is covered with chits .... it would be a crime not to plant it ;-)

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    1. Oh yes Sue chuck it in, I had a fabulous success from some sprouting Roosters I found in the cupboard a few years back.

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  10. That's not far off the number I'm growing on the plot, and twice as many varieties. Anyway I agree with what everyone else has said. Flighty xx

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    1. I bought bags with between 10-12 tubers in each + my fill a tub for £2.99. I have a great selection for different purposes. Perhaps it was a good idea in retrospect that the Potato day wasn't selling single tubers. I'm sure I would have gone overboard. xx

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  11. You were brave to add it all up! Don't think I'd dare.

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    1. I hope I don't need to add more compost though I fear I will need to.

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  12. My mom used to have a huge veggie garden and used her own compost from horse & goats. Is there a horse stable near you where you could get compost for free? Of course it has to be mellowed so as not to burn the roots of your fresh plants. Even so, nothing compares to homegrown. Wendy x

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    1. Yes there are a few near by. I have been l known to send Mike into the filed at the back of the house to add horse muck to the compost bins.

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  13. Not everything is down to cost is it?

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    1. It isn't but I am starting to resent the amount of compost I need to buy in.

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  14. Joanne, don't think about the cost, think about the wonderful, freshly dug potatoes you will be feeding your family.
    I to am mad, me and my Uncle Maurice alongside his Howard Gem rotavator, have evicted my pigs to grow potatoes in one of their pens. We have brought 45 kg of seed potatoes! I did loads of research on the different varieties and we started planting them last weekend. I'm not sure we will get a huge return on our £75 as the area is a little shaded, however we will have had great fun growing, harvesting and eating them!

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    1. My garden is quite shaded in the morning so perhaps your potatoes will do well. I always get a sizeable crop. If my plan to re use the compost works next year I shall be a happy bunny. I do hope for the amount you spent you get a good return.

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  15. I hope that you enjoy your potatoes, you certainly deserve to after all of the effort that you are putting into them. Here's hoping for a spudtacular crop!! xx

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    1. I shall enjoy them Amy I just wish I didn't have to buy so much compost do grow them.

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    2. That is the main reason that I stopped growing potatoes in pots, so I don't do any now! xx

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    3. Perhaps I could set up a little stall in the front garden. I might be able to sell enough to buy the compost next year :)

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  16. I've always found pot grown potatoes are absolutely perfect - no blemishes or pest damage. Worth the effort. It's a great idea to put the spent foliage at the bottom. I need to plant mine out soon at the allotment - hopefully over the Easter holidays.

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    1. I agree CJ, we grew some in the round once & while we did have a usable crop there was a lot more damage than the pot ones. Good luck with planting yours I would have liked to have waited for the traditional Good Friday planting day but it was a little to far off for me.

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  17. I agree with most of the readers, there is nothing that you can compare with some fresh new potatoes from your garden. If only mine was bigger... :)

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    1. If my garden was a little bigger I could have a potato bed. Then again I would probably grow more peonies so would still be in the same compost buying situation.

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  18. I'm trying potato bags for the first time this year. The main crop (Pink Fir Apple) is going in them. The last two years running I've lost most of them to blight and/or mice, so if the bags + compost works it at least saves me throwing money down the drain. And if it works, I may well grow all my potatoes in containers next year.

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    1. I tried bags a couple of years back from experience they work better if you fill them to the brim with compost straight away. I have no option I will still be growing potatoes in tubs next year hopefully with my re used compost. Your potatoes should be fine the mice always ignore mine.

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  19. This will be my second year of growing potatoes in containers/bags and I was happy with last year's results. I can never grow enough potatoes; we eat so many here. That is interesting about the advice from Alys Fowler's book; it is a book I'm thinking of treating myself to.

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  20. Joanne, I've never grown potatoes--I would feel like a real farmer! I'm so impressed with your gardening skills!

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  21. This is the best ever!!! There is nothing better than eating potatoes from the garden....the flavor is unbelievable! And I do believe I will be on garden restrictions here soon! You rock!

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