Potato bucket

 

Potato bucket - two cheap builders' buckets and some thick cloth

Potato bucket – two cheap builders’ buckets and some thick cloth

I want some really early potatoes, and last year’s attempt to grow some in a bag in my greenhouse was a dismal failure – I think for lack of water.

To solve that I have invented a double bucket system which creates a water reservoir and also has windows through which I can snaffle a few baby potatoes without emptying the whole bucket.

My first attempt used two buckets that were kicking around, from different sources they didn’t nest completely so I didn’t need to use spacers to create a gap.  With two new buckets I have had to use spacers to make a water reservoir.

The outer bucket only needs one hole drilled at the top of the reservoir, that is at level of the bottom of the second bucket, you can establish that by measuring the difference at the top.

The inner bucket has holes in the bottom for water to get through and four sections cut out the sides, the buckets are usually marked with 16 vertical lines – cut two, leave two, aiming to leave spout area.  I found it helpful to drill the corners of these first then cut with a breadknife (or hacksaw) and a Stanley knife.

When cutting with a Stanley (craft knife) it is far safer and more controlled to cut gently, and repeatedly rather than pushing hard, you go off course more easily, and if you slip you can do yourself a mischief.

The cloth in the bottom hangs into the reservoir and draws water up as needed. Water from the top, water fills reservoir and surplus comes out through side holes.

Once the potato plant is well developed I hope to be able to lift out the inner bucket and pull out a helping or two of new potatoes without destroying the plant, so getting a bigger and earlier harvest.  The rootball will hopefully hold the soil together, but as a second experiment I added some coir to the compost of the second bucket – this is fibrous and helps hold compost together.

Feed with potassium rich liquid – comfrey, wormery leachate, compost tea or bought food.

New potatoes should be ready in 12-14 weeks from planting.  I did one ‘Accent’ and one ‘Jersey Royal’, both good for flavour if not the very fastest of the new potato varieties.  New potatoes should be ready in 12-14 weeks from planting.