Our method of growing is as follows: 3 or 4 chitted tubers are placed in a 2 gallon container and just covered with compost. As the shoots grow, compost is added gradually until the pot is full. The pot needs to be well drained.

Potatoes grown in this way with restricted space mature a little more quickly than those planted in the open ground. The yield is lower; usually 1-2 lbs per pot, but can exceed 4lbs on rare occasions. The potatoes are extracted as soon as the leaves turn yellow. An advantage of using pots is that one can sow tubers very early (my earliest usually on Jan 1st) and get very early cropping (mine usually begin on 1st June). The pots are taken outdoors at the start of May but are moved into the greenhouse if late frosts occur. As each pot is emptied, more seed tubers are sown, until about 7th Aug. During June, July and August, daily watering is essential.

Some tubers are not suitable for late planting. I have found the least satisfactory to be GOLDEN WONDER and PINK FIR APPLE, and the best to be PICASSO, EPICURE, CHARLOTTE, KERR'S PINK, BRITISH QUEEN and UP-TO-DATE. Lately, PICASSO seems to be losing its vigour a little.

Note that tubers grown in pots are much smaller than those grown in the ground. Mashing and baking are not generally suitable for pot-grown potatoes.


BRITISH QUEEN Flowers white with yellow centre. Short to medium haulms; thin. Little to no trouble with blight. Yield typically 1.25 lbs per pot. Matures rapidly. Clean, very pale yellow skin and off-white flesh; very floury. Excellent boiled if not overcooked. Possibly the best mashing variety. Often on sale in Ireland, which is where I first came across it.

CHARLOTTE Flowers white with yellow centre. Medium to tall haulms, very thick. Considerable trouble with stem rots and blight in some years. Yield typically 1.25 lbs per pot, but much lower in blight years. Pale yellow skins and off-white flesh; very waxy. Excellent when new for boiling. No good for mashing or baking; OK for frying in oil when young. On storage the skins gradually become tougher and the flesh less pleasant; by late April, stored tubers may start to go woody.

CHERRY BELLE Similar to Desiree and Romano; a pink tuber, smooth and oval, slightly more waxy than Romano. Insignificant haulms, flowers drop at bud stage, no trouble with blight, good for boiling when new; yield about 1.25lb per pot

CLARET Another "improved" Desiree type. Deeper red, smoother, yield about 1.5 lbs, pale purple flowers. Midway between floury and waxy texture, like Desiree and Romano. Good all-round potato.

Another large vigorous plant, haulm thick and tall, very attractive blue and yellow flowers almost indistinguishable from those of Salad Blue. The leaves and stems have a blue cast. There is some blight susceptibility, but less so than Maris Piper. The potatoes are deep blue-purple fleshed, again like salad Blue, but the flavour is a little more buttery. An interesting novelty variety which is easier to obtain than it was a few years ago. A picture of the flowers is on the POTATO PICTURES page. Yield - not enough data yet. My first attempt at growing gave a little under 4lb in a 3+3 gallon double container. Alan Wilson describes the texture as "stodgy". This isn't quite the right word; they're not really floury or waxy but they are substantial. He also describes them as small and knobbly, but when I grew them the tubers were large and smooth skinned.

Specialist Potatoes, Ltd. say that Congo is pre-1918, a late maincrop; shiny black skin with flesh turning violet on maturity. It is closely related to the wild species. Little is known about the variety but it is believed to come from the Scottish Borders. It's also known as Himalayan Black. I have no idea why it's called "Congo".

DESIREE Flowers pale purple with yellow centre. Medium height haulms, fairly thick. No trouble with blight. Yield 1.5 lbs per pot. Red skin and pale yellow flesh. Good all-round medium floury potato which gives acceptable results no matter how cooked.

DUKE OF YORK and RED DUKE OF YORK Flowers aborted before maturing. Medium haulms; fairly thick. Tubers oval; some almost egg-shaped. Medium-floury variety with yellowish flesh; very good flavour. Some susceptibility to blight. Best boiled but will disintegrate if over-cooked. Yield about 1.25 lbs per pot; the reds slightly more than this. I find the reds a bit more floury and happier in pots than the whites. There is a rare pink variant too; I haven't grown this.

DUNLUCE ELITE A variety similar to CHARLOTTE but longer and thinner. Skins and flesh pale yellow; very waxy in texture. Really a salad potato; best means of cooking is boiling but adequate for frying early in the season. Some blight susceptibility.

EDZELL BLUE Flower white with yellow centre, short to medium short thin haulms, sometimes blight on a few tubers, yield typically 1.25 lbs per pot, blue skin which fades on cooking, white flesh. Very floury potato, high dry matter. Good boiled whole (but will disintegrate rapidly if boiled too long), good mashed, good for frying in olive oil, usually too small for baking. Stores reasonably well but will sprout before most other varieties. Watch for blight in stored tubers. The potato expert Alan Romans writes in his "Guide to seed potato varieties", published, by Thompson & Morgan, that its successful boiling was the test of a good farm cook in Eastern Scotland.

One interesting property of Edzell Blue is the way it reacts to blight. Affected tubers are a different colour - mottled blue and white instead of the usual blue. Blighted tubers also have a characteristic smell not found with other varieties.

EPICURE Flower white with yellow centre. Haulms short, fairly thin. Little trouble with blight; reliable cropper. Matures rapidly in pots. Floury potato,knobbly shape, yield around 1.25- 1.5 lbs per pot, white skin and flesh. Good boiled whole, good mashed. Very good flavour. The most popular garden variety in Scotland.

1895 - Early Maincrop. Skin is pink/red with white flesh that is very floury and full of flavour. Tubers are round and very long keeping. This old variety has been much used in the breeding of modern Arran varieties. My experiences: large but slender haulms rather like those of British Queen; no flowers, not much trouble with blight, a bit like "Up-To-Date"; very good flavour.

One of the best yielding pot varieties but a slow grower. Late planted tubers (end-July onwards) will produce virtually nothing in some years. Flower bright purple with yellow centre; very tall, thick, prolific haulms sometimes 6 ft tall; yield often in excess of 3 or even 4lb per pot (once I got 5lb); needs very heavy watering, little trouble with blight; pale brown rough skin; very high dry matter. Floury and dry, solid texture, stores well, but see below. Excellent fried in oil (of which it absorbs very little); good boiled but will disintegrate if over-cooked. Possibly the best frying variety in a good year.If growth stops in August, however, (blight or other problems) the quality is not so good - the very firm "Golden Wonder" texture disappears.

Has been used to make crisps- they were named after the potato. It is the russet sport of the English variety, Langworthy. A typical root will show the odd tuber of Langworthy, or some tubers with mixed character (half russet, half white). ....see the page about chimeras: "Potatoes and Dragons", on the main potato page.

HEATHER An unreliable yielder in pots; some plants do not seem to prosper and produce weak, spindly growth; others strong, heavy haulms. Yield around 1.25 lbs. Very similar in texture to Golden Wonder; very high dry matter; floury, good for frying. However, reluctant to chit and consequently difficult to grow early in the season. Jack Dunnett variety - dull purple skins.

A burgundy-red centre to the flesh, with a narrow band of white surrounding it. Skin is bright red if dug fresh, or russet with underlying burgundy if left to mature. Much of the colour remains after cooking, particularly if steamed. Texture is slightly fluffy and floury with a mild, sweet flavour. Few flowers; if you see any they'll be white. Long, weak, sprawling haulms, very susceptible to rain and blight damage. Low yield: 1.25 lbs per pot. Grow well in trays a few inches deep.

Rather white, floury potato; main crop, no flowers, strong plants. Good flavour and texture to the crop. Yield about 1.5 lbs.

JERSEY ROYAL Yield around 1.25 lbs per pot; white flesh; pale yellow skin. Waxy in texture. Note that if grown in the UK it does not have the same flavour as Jersey-grown tubers. Best means of cooking is boiled whole. Official name is "International Kidney". For the Jersey market they are picked immature, at which time they are waxy, rather like a salad potato, and very distinctice. Grown to maturity they change character and become more floury.

KERR'S PINK Flowers seldom seen. Haulms thin and relatively weak. Little trouble with blight, though is slightly susceptible. More inclined to scab. In pots it forms rather small tubers of excellent flavour; high dry matter and very floury; good for frying and boiling if not over- boiled. Yield about 1.25 lbs per pot. In the ground it forms tubers which are superb for mashing, bettered only by British Queen.

KING EDWARD Tall, thick haulms, a little less vigorous than PICASSO. Some susceptibility to blight. Yield around 1.5 lbs per pot. White skin with red eyes; very pale yellow flesh. A floury potato (more so than PICASSO). Good boiled, mashed, baked or fried in oil. The variant RED KING EDWARD is a little more floury and for me produces higher yields; skin red which often covers the whole tuber but sometimes with white patches.

LINZER DELICATESSE Salad potato, white skinned, similar to Charlotte but longer, thinner and smoother skin. Waxy texture; keeps well, no flowers (drop at bud stage), medium haulms; little trouble with blight in most years.

A large vigorous plant, haulm very thick and strong, attractive purple and yellow flowers similar to Golden Wonder. This is a main crop potato, but in containers, unless the container is a very large, the plant comes to maturity more quickly. There is considerable susceptibility to blight, and at the first sign of brown freckles on the leaves, or stunted leaves, remove all signs of infection and spray thoroughly. Also, take the Maris Piper containers away from any others (and tomatoes) to stop cross infection. Yields per container about 2 lbs. The potatoes are yellowish - white, white flesh, similar in character to Golden Wonder but not as dry. They are the chip shop favourite, and they are good sliced and fried, steamed or mashed. A picture of the flowers is on the VEGETABLE PICTURES page.

Typical French salad potato; pink skin, unremarkable but reasonably good flavour, no flowers, yields about 1.25 pounds per pot; the plant is small and unobtrusive but seems to attract slugs. Matures rapidly. Susceptible to blight.

ORION Reputedly interesting blossom, but flowers often drop at bud stage. Knobbly white potato strongly attached to the roots; in dry soil all of the tubers come up when the plant is pulled out. No trouble with blight. In pots tends to produce a low number of fairly large tubers. Yield 1.25lbs. Cooking qualities: floury, good flavour and texture; would mash well. Cultivated by Dr T.P. MacIntosh just after the Second World War.

PENTLAND DELL Flowers drop at bud stage. Haulms medium strength; little trouble with blight. Good all-round potato grown in ground; good boiling tubers in pots. High dry matter; quite floury; fries well and is also good for baking and mashing.

PICASSO Easily the best cropper in pots. Flower white with yellow centre; tall, thick haulms; no trouble with blight, yield often in excess of 2lbs per pot,can reach 4lbs, white skin with red eyes rather like King Edward, which it closely resembles. Medium floury potato; gets more floury on storage. Stores well. Good boiled, mashed or fried in olive oil; good baked. However.....for the last two years (2002-3) I have noticed a dropping-off in vigour and much lower yields and may switch to Epicure.

PINK FIR APPLE Flower white with yellow centre, tall thin haulms, very prone to blight, yield typically 1.5 lbs per pot, very waxy potato, knobbly shape, flesh white. Good boiled whole, good fried in olive oil; unsuitable for baking (too small in any case); unsuitable for mashing (impossible to peel).In bad blight years, yield is zero. In pots, not worth planting after about July 14; grows too slowly.

This is a rapid - growing early potato, and mine are usually ready on about 1 June. It is a small, unremarkable plant; usually no flowers (these abort almost as soon as the buds form). There is little blight susceptibility when planted early, and the potatoes are white skinned and white fleshed, fairly round, and of reasonable but not outstanding flavour. They are usually the first of the season. Yield- about 1.25 to 1.5 lbs.

Good sized tubers for a pot, off-white,, very clean; a few white flowers with yellow centres, haulms medium to large. No blight damage; foliage unblemished. Floury but not so much as Golden Wonder or Rooster. Yield about 1.5 lbs.

ROCKET Fast maturing "early" variety. Weak haulms; susceptible to blight; no flowers (drop at bud stage); very white flesh, waxy, flavour indifferent to average; not in the same league as British Queen, Golden Wonder, etc, but it does mature rapidly. OK for 1st early.

ROMANO Raised from Desiree; medium haulms, no trouble with blight, pale purple flowers, yield around 1.5 lbs per pot; firm textured slightly floury potato of excellent flavour; less irregular in shape than Desiree; no trouble with blight. Good all-round potato; good as new salad potato when young; very good baked; reasonable mashed.

Irish potato, second only to Golden Wonder in dry matter content. Red skin but duller than Desiree. Flowers drop at bud stage. Haulms small. Excellent for boiling (do not over-cook) and frying. Yield about 1.5 lbs. I have grown this several times and there was no trouble with blight or scab.

Flower blue with yellow centre; very tall, thick haulms. Often sets seed. Prone to blight. Yield low; around 1lb. Skin blue, flesh blue, with the colour largely retained on cooking. Midway between floury and waxy in texture. Good boiled and used as salad potato; can be mashed but its main appeal is the unusual colour. Good fried in oil. Main hazard of storage is blight. If affected tubers are removed promptly the variety stores well and gets more floury after Christmas. If seedlings of self-pollinated SALAD BLUE are grown, the tubers produced have a range of colours from very dark blue to pale purple to white; the flesh may be dark blue, purple, pale purple, pale yellow or white; the colour of the flowers is roughly related to the tuber colour, with the darkest being royal blue. White tubers produce a very unusual flower: white and green with a yellow centre. The tubers are generally similar to ordinary SALAD BLUE in texture and flavour but the darkest tubers appear to have higher dry matter, a firmer texture and to be more suitable for frying.

Photographs of the tubers from this experiment are shown here... click on the small image if you wish to see the detail.

Early, originated Sleaford, 1900. Good flavour, floury, steam rather than boil. I had trouble with blight and a very poor yield - less than 1lb per pot. Haulms small. No flowers, as with most earlies.

SHETLAND BLACK Flowers generally drop whilst at the bud stage so no idea of colour; short, thin haulms; no trouble with blight; yield around 1.25 lb per pot; tubers small and roughly elliptical with blue-black skin; flesh pale yellow with an unusual purple ring inside. Floury in texture; sweet flavour; good for boiling and, if large enough, for mashing. Colour fades to grey on cooking. Note that Shetland Black has shallow roots; I grow them in 4-inch deep trays rather than ordinary pots.

Attractive dual-coloured potato bred from Red Duke of York; fairly floury, medium haulms, flowers abort just before opening or earlier. Doesn't have quite the flavour of Duke of York. Colour is red with a splash of white - very eye catching. Yield average - about 1.25 lbs per pot. Slight blight damage - I'd rate it around 4.

Early variety; our first ones usually ready on 1 June; no flowers, yield about 1.5 lbs, no trouble with blight, midway between floury and waxy; mild flavour. Potatoes are very smooth skinned, yellow skins, white flesh. Haulms small.

Fairly ordinary floury potato; good flavour, white flowers with yellow centres; similar to British Queen. Susceptible to blight. Yield in pots- about 1.5 lb. Fast maturing "early" variety.

Tall, thick haulms, no flowers (drop at bud stage), no blight trouble, cream skin, very white flesh. 1.5 lbs per pot, a small number of large tubers; similar to Orion and Picasso but more waxy.

UP-TO-DATE Unremarkable floury potato a little like BRITISH QUEEN; more susceptible to blight; similar shape. Flowers drop at bud stage. Flesh cream; good flavour. Haulms rather thin but very leafy ("spectacular" according to some authorities but looked fairly ordinary to me). Yield about 1.25lb.

Jack Dunnett variety. Resembles King Edward in appearance; good flavour but King Edward has the edge for flavour. Dry matter high - about same as Sarpo Mira or Sharpe's Express. Reputedly almost immune to late blight. I was surprised to see the foliage deteriorate - perhaps it was early blight. Whatever it was, it reached a few of the tubers. Pots emptied 10 July. I liked these and will grow them again.

WILJA Pale purple flower with yellow centre. No trouble with blight. Haulms quite small - a good pot variety, but widely available anyway so probably not worth growing in pots unless you have late seed which needs using up. Yield about 1.25 lbs. Too well known to describe here.

Flowers usually drop at bud stage. When seen they are pale purple with very small greenish yellow centres. Medium height haulms; considerable blight/rot susceptibility (but see below); yield about 1.25 lb per pot; some tubers very striking in appearance, with red, white and purple patches, but the majority resemble Shetland Black. Rather floury in texture. Skin colour fades on cooking; flesh cream.The tubers are difficult to grow because they are extremely reluctant to chit - can be very late July or even early August.

It had not been placed in the National Collection prior to its discovery in 1998, when one cut tuber was passed to Alan Romans by a retired gentleman, Mr Little of Kelso. Mr Little had known of it all his life. The first disease-free plants were grown in 1999 producing fairly numerous oval blue/purple tubers. The blue/purple layer of pigment overlays a red layer, which in turn gives way to non-pigmented skin. Some of the tubers show random flashes of all three colours.

The blight susceptibility is peculiar. If sown early, some of the plants make strong, rigid growth, rather like Kerr's Pink and Golden Wonder, and are only slowly affected by blight. Planted late in the season, they rarely get very large and are badly affected by late blight.

YUKON GOLD Very similar to PICASSO; slimmer haulms which are tall and need staking if it rains heavily. A white potato with extremely faint pink eyes; flowers drop at bud stage.Appears to be a good pot variety; produces a few large tubers. Yield lower than Picasso - about 1.25-1.5 lbs. Very good flavour.

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