We’re growing pot

Oops, sorry, we’re growing pots plural.

Wait, no, that’s not right either.  We’re actually growing potatoes.

The pots are the irrigation system, as per that book I mentioned, Gardening with Less Water.

The idea is that you seal the hole on the bottom of the terracotta pots, then you bury the pots almost up to the rim.  You fill them up with water, which then seeps through the porous pot into the surrounding soil.  It’s an osmotic process, so apparently the rate at which water goes through is proportional to the rate at which the surrounding roots soak it up.  Not convinced.  We will see.

We’ve planted four seed potatoes around each pot and have left the side nearest the walkway unplanted, for ease of pot-filling.  There’s also plenty of room to make a small trench on each side as we dig into the soil for earthing up the potatoes.  That’s why these pots aren’t fully interred, by the way – to allow for the fact that we’ll be covering up the potato shoots for the first couple of weeks.

I was lucky enough to pick up 20 second-hand terracotta pots and their saucers cheap on leboncoin (a French version of donedeal or craigslist).  These are phase one of our terracotta watering system.  Phase two is these guys :

These are ollas, based on a clay pot used by the Chinese for irrigation more than 2000 years ago.  I managed to find these on ebay, in France, mind you.  At least they didn’t have to come from China!  But the price!  Per pot, they were roughly ten times what I paid for the plant pots.  I have a suspicion it will be a matter of  ‘You get what you pay for.’  Water seems to go through the plant pots incredibly slowly.  So slowly, in fact, that I fear there is some sort of impermeable layer in them.  Whereas the olla we tested became wet on the outside within an hour of being filled with water.

Hmmmm.  Worst case, we will have to water our spuds the conventional way.  Even worster case – everyone tells me that potato growing is a disaster here, so I could spend the summer watering with nothing to show for it.

Oh well, it’s all experimentation.

Next in series : Growing Water Bottles

Pervious in series : Gardening with less water


6 thoughts on “We’re growing pot

  1. I tried growing “German Butterball” potatoes the last two years, in pots (plastic). I did everything I was told to…lots of c, thoroughly composted manure (which, I learned, is what gives the skins a wrinkly texture), good soil, I hilled them up to the undersides of the first set of leaves, kept them watered and babied them unbelievably. The result? Well…lots and LOTS of teeny little potatoes. The largest ones, with one gigantic exception, were no more than the size of your curled palm. The rest were the size of a small marble. You really can’t do much with that.
    The giant sized one was enormous. Spread your fingers out wide like you were going to hold a big rock, and put them finger tip to finger tip with a gap of about an inch…and that was the size of it. But, when I cut it open it had ‘”hollow heart”. It was hollow on the inside. In fact, the interior hollowed part had exterior skin growing on the surface…so it was growing outside in. It too was fairly worthless.
    So I’ve given up on potatoes. Good luck, though!


  2. I love the look of the pots, very intriguing. Curious, can you grow tomatoes this way?
    We gave up on our postage and turned into a rose garden. At our age with our arthritis and knee problems it was too much work to get down and tend the plants, such is life. Luckily the local farmers have been producing tasty produce & organic. I have looked into raised gardens that require no bending. I’m not that ambitious these days. Hats off to you for trying. We hope Arro’s nose has stopped running.


    • Well we went to Botanic in Manosque today and guess what they had??? Ollas! Only they called them Oyas. French, I guess. So we bought another three and will continue our experimentation. Yes, you absolutely can grow tomatoes this way. Watch this space. We will be planting the second week in May.


  3. I’m growing French Fingerling potatoes IN pots…ugly old black plastic ones that I had leftover from the farm. I like yours much better in appearance, but terracotta does dry out faster. Be interested in your results to see if the ollas are truly worth the price.


    • I’ve got two pots with spuds in them. They’ll be watered conventionally. One is plastic, one is terracotta. We’ll see what they do. In Ireland, I used blue barrels cut in half for potatoes, it worked ok.
      Being Irish we are fussy about our potatoes. We like a nice, dry, floury spud – Kerr Pink or Golden Wonder would be the traditional Irish favourites. The best we have found here is called Bintje – binjay, benjy, or any variation of that which was available in Ireland and the UK over the years.
      Enough potato boring talk! We’ll wait and see what they do for us.


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