Guy Patten harvesting the latest crop of potatoes from a pot. (Mary Lowther photo)

Guy Patten harvesting the latest crop of potatoes from a pot. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Growing veggies in pots works like a charm for Honeymoon Bay gardener

One pot about two feet deep and one foot around produced four pounds, five ounces of potatoes

Guy and Bonnie Patten are proof that one can grow vegetables in pots in Honeymoon Bay. Guy likes the control he has over the soil and weeds using pots and grows an amazing amount in them. One pot about two feet deep and one foot around produced four pounds, five ounces of potatoes from two small seed potatoes planted earlier this year.

Guy buys chicken manure, potting soil and bone and blood meal and adds a handful of spent coffee grounds and ashes for good measure. Sometimes he sprays the plants with fish fertilizer. He plants potatoes, radishes, carrots and lettuce in pots, staggering the plantings to reap a steady harvest throughout the growing season and as far as he can into the next. He’s got enough carrots in various stages of growth to see himself and Bonnie through the winter and he intends to keep planting potatoes every month to see just how long they’ll keep growing, following the tenet of every good gardener: push the envelope because you never know.

He grows two kinds of carrots: small round Paris and longer pelleted Bolero that Guy says grow to about six inches in his pots. He finds that pelleted carrots are easier to plant and he doesn’t have to thin them because he plants one seed in every second square of a one inch mesh grid he cut to fit the top of the pot, and almost every seed sprouts. He uses this same grid for radishes and lettuce, staggering the plantings to harvest them continually. He figures the ones still growing will keep him and Bonnie stocked up for winter.

These pots grow underneath a massive tree so rather than fight with its roots every year, Guy decided to leave the soil to the tree and grow veggies above ground, in pots. “Besides,” he says, “I like that tree.” His method works so well that he’s planning on expanding it next year. There are many recipes for potting soil, and here’s the one Guy uses for a five quart bucket:

1/3 bucket chicken manure

1/3 bucket garden soil

1/3 bucket potting soil

Handful bone meal

Handful blood meal

Handful spent coffee grounds

Half a cup of wood ashes from the fireplace

He mixes all this up and puts a third in the bottom of the bucket, then adds two or more seed potatoes and fills it up to the top with the rest of the soil. Guy has found that potatoes grow sprouts from one end and roots from the other, so as he plants them he orients them with the roots facing downward.

When Guy harvests the last of a pot, he pours out the soil and adds two more shovelfuls of chicken manure and a handful each of bone and blood meal before re-potting with the next crop. He finds that weeding is down to a minimum and he doesn’t have the pests that inhabit soils. Although most vegetable roots can reach deeply when grown in the earth, Guy’s potted veggies prove that they can grow quite nicely in smaller digs.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Columngardening