“ Brand: Wilkinsons / Type: Grow Bags „
My son was having a gardening phase and wanting to encourage him I kept my eye out for some items that he could use. I was in Wilko's when I spotted potato growing sacks which I thought would be ideal. My plan was to use up the potatoes I had bought but hadn't eaten which had sprouted in the bag.
The grow bags were only around £2 for two, so being a pound each were great value- especially if we could grow a couple of bags worth of potatoes, that being the case they would pay for themselves. They do a couple of sizes but I opted for 42ltr as the larger sized ones would have been too big for us to manage and cost too much to fill with compost.
You get two re-usable dark green tarpaulin bags with drain holes in the bottom and handles on the sides. You have to provide your own compost and potatoes. I found these to be very tough and hard wearing, we encountered no splits whilst filled, even when dragging them into a different position in the garden. The bags kept their shape when full and stayed reasonably rigid.
Although Wilko's sell compost, I bought a few bags from Aldi as they were cheaper in there- they cost about a pound each. The grow bags took almost two bags of compost each, so me saving money by growing our own was already out the window- nevermind it was for my son's 'project'.
We planted these last summer, we planted two or three sprouting potatoes in each sack- shoots pointing up. We then watered them well and left them to it in the garden. It didn't take long for the plants to start growing, my dad told us to keep covering up the plants with compost to make them grow bigger.
When it was time my son pulled the potato plants up, they had grown some potatoes but they were small- not to do with the bag itself but because of the potatoes I'd used.
These bags did the job, they are hard wearing and haven't been damaged during use. I didn't bother emptying the compost out of them and will stick some seed potatoes in them again when the weather gets better.
5 stars from me
The year before last my Father in Law decided to get some work done on his back yard after he had already planted some tomatos so we ended up with a load of growbags of tomatoes which grew really well and we decided we would try and grow some other things the following year. As the end of the summer season came we picked up loads of items in the Wilkinsons sale and they bags were in amongst our haul.
The bags come in packs of 2 which are simply wrapped in plastic, there are 2 bags in each packet and they come in a variety of sizes of which we bought these ones and a smaller size, we managed to pick these ones up for £1.50 and the smaller ones for £1 which I thought was a great deal.
Each of the grow bags is made of a tarpaulin like material and are really strong, they have a little weaved fabric handles on either side to be able to move them around. The bags are dark green in colour although personally I don't think the colour is mportant at all, the bags have drainage holes in the bottom of them and they are really sturdy.
We placed the bags where we wanted them and then we filled them with compost ready for our already sprouted potatoes, we placed the potatoes in the bag with the shoots facing up and then added an extra layer of compost and then watered them well. We found that one of the bags was fine but one of the bags wasn't getting much sunlight so we moved it and I was surprised as just how heavy the bag is once it has been planted inside.
Once we had collected all of our crop from the bags we rinsed them out and found that there was no damage to them and they were still in just about perfect condition so we will be using them again this year. These are great value even at the full price of around £3 they are strong and do the job perfectly so I highly recommend them.
There's nothing to beat the taste of a freshly boiled potato that had been under the ground just half an hour ago, believe me when I tell you that supermarket or even farm shop potatoes simply cannot compare. Last year I grew the summer potatoes in the ground, but they took up a lot of space and it was a bit of an effort to dig them up (a rewarding effort, but effort none the less). When it came to planting a second harvest (for fresh potatoes at Christmas) I decided to take a slightly different route and use specially designed potato grow bags. I actually bought two different types of potato grow bag, some were the Botanico brand and others the Wilkinsons and there will be a few occasions during this review where I will compare the two.
The Wilkinsons Potato Grow Bags are sold in packs of two for a very reasonable £3.28 (although they are on offer at the moment at only 75p for two) which compares favourably with the Botanico bags that are currently available on Amazon for £6.99. Each of the bags is formed of a tough, green, plastic feel tarpaulin, features drainage holes and carry handles and holds a maximum of 42 litres of compost. Size-wise these are almost exactly the same size as the more expensive Botanico bags and at approximately 40cm in diameter they take up a surprisingly small amount of space on the concreted area of my garden. The material these are made of is tough enough to survive the rigours of a British summer (summer, what's that?) and even all three of the other seasons, the stitching has held throughout the year and I have every confidence that they will survive for the foreseeable future.
Using these bags is simplicity itself, they simply need to be shaken open, have a layer of a suitable material to aid drainage placed at the bottom and then about three inches of compost added to the bottom. I must admit that although I added some polystyrene to some of my potato bags, there were a couple where I didn't and to be honest I didn't notice any marked difference in how waterlogged the bags got, as they all coped perfectly well, even with the wettest June on record. Once a layer of compost is added to the bag, I generally roll the sides down and then allow the compost to warm in the sun (ha, what sun?) for a couple of weeks while my potatoes chit (sprout) on a windowsill I also like to add fertiliser to the compost and have had excellent results using dried poultry manure.
Once the seed potatoes are ready to be planted they can be placed in the bags with the strongest sprouts upwards and then covered with about three more inches of compost/fertiliser mix. I've found that there is conflicting advice online as to how many seed potatoes you should put in each bag, but personally I've found I get best results by using between four and five. These potatoes should be evenly arranged in the bag, I generally place one in the middle and then place the others in a circle around it. After a good watering in, the potatoes can then be left to it until the stems and foliage begin to make an appearance. Once the foliage is about three inches high, it should once more be covered with a compost/fertiliser mix, the sides unrolled a little and this repeated until the compost is a couple of inches shy of the top of the bag, when you can allow the potatoes to get on with things until they flower and start to wither (remove the flowers so the plants can focus all their energy on producing tubers). As there is only so much water that the bags will hold, you will need to water regularly during dry spells. In fact you will also need to water during wet weather once the foliage starts to form an umbrella over the surface of the compost as it becomes difficult for the rain to penetrate the leaves.
Once the potato plants flower it's only a couple of weeks until you can harvest fresh spuds for dinner (depending on the variety). Harvesting the potatoes is fairly easy, but not quite as easy as with the Botanico bags that have Velcro hatches. Simply pull out the foliage and then start removing the compost to reveal the nuggets of goodness. If you don't want to harvest your potatoes straight away then you can cut off the foliage and then move the bag into a cool, dry place until you're ready to harvest (even if that's months later). I find that depending on when I harvest the potatoes and the weather conditions I can get enough potatoes from one bag to feed my family of three for about two weeks. I've never weighed the harvest, but I reckon that I got at least 3kg of potatoes per bag.
Of course these potatoes weren't exactly free, there was the cost of the bags to take into account, which works out at £1.64 per bag, then the cost of seed potatoes which works out at about £2.50 per bag (although you can use supermarket potatoes that have started to sprout). But the most expensive part of growing potatoes in these bags is the compost, you are looking at 40-45 litres of compost per bag and you should always use fresh compost when growing potatoes in bags. Personally I used the cheapest compost sold in Wilkinsons, which is sold at 99p per 15 litres, with me needing three bags per bag costing £2.97. I also use dried poultry manure as a fertiliser mixed into this compost, which maybe costs 50p per bag. That makes the total cost per grow bag of £7.61, which means that there really isn't a saving on buying potatoes from the supermarket.
But saving money is not the only point in growing your own potatoes in reusable bags there are a few other aspects. For my family the most important aspects are the taste, the ability to grow more unusual varieties, being able to protect the growing potatoes from frost/blight, having freshly harvested potatoes for six months of the year and being secure in the knowledge that only organic fertiliser and no insecticides or weed-killers have been used. The cost of the bags themselves and the compost used to fill them can also be offset by a little creative re-use and recycling. After harvesting the potatoes, I return the compost to the bag and plant with either peas or beans. Once the peas or beans have been harvested the plants are cut off at the compost level and then the compost (which has now been enriched with nitrogen by the peas/beans) is used to create hills for growing marrows, squashes and pumpkins the next year. The bags are then washed out ready to grow potatoes again the next year. I also grow more than one crop of potatoes a year (we have freshly harvested potatoes with our Christmas dinner) and can start the potatoes far earlier than if I were growing them in the ground as I can move the bags indoors if a frost is forecast.
Although these bags are missing the hatches sported by their cousins from Botanico, they are much cheaper and just as effective. The most used of my Wilkinsons Potato Bags are now getting ready for their third planting of potatoes, having also been used to grow early peas and are showing no sigh of deterioration. They take much of the heavy work (digging) out of growing spuds and have the added convenience of being able to be used on a concreted area and moved under cover should blight or frost be forecast. I would, however, say that they are best suited to first and second early potatoes rather than main-crop as they soon become crowded (Wilkinsons also sells a giant bag that's fantastic for main-crop).
I would heartily recommend these bags to anyone who has limited space for conventional methods of growing potatoes, but does have a concreted area, patio, decking or even balcony and wants to grow their own. The only problem is once you taste home-grown, freshly harvested potatoes you'll find even the most expensive supermarket or farm shop spuds tasteless in comparison.
We don't have a lot of space in our back garden, but both myself and my daughter enjoy planting vegetables each spring, and look forward to watching everything growing. We knew we were going to attempt to grow some potatoes this year and I happened to be in Wilkinson's at the start of the spring planting season and spied their potato growing bags which were the bargain price of £3.28 for two 42 litre bags.
The bags are made from a tarpaulin material, slightly crinkly to the touch and feel, but appear very strong at first glance. Obviously when you are growing potatoes, there is going to be a lot of compost in these bags so they really do need to be strong if you need to move them about.
Designed for the patio area or decking, these bags fit perfectly on my patch of decking next to my plastic greenhouse.
Instantly I noticed that the bags already host drainage holes, so all the hard work is done for me. There are two handles on each bag which make the moving around process easier. I have tried to place my bags in the correct place from the start to avoid having to pull around later.
As you begin to plant the potatoes, I always find it's best to roll down the sides of the bags to ensure the tops don't flop over the soil and the young seed potato inside. Due to the tarpaulin material of the bags, I found this very easy to achieve and the bags appear to have a good solid base to them and they stay in one place when a small amount of compost has been added at the beginning of the process.
For the size of these bags, I have placed three seed potatoes in each. This will give me a good crop of young baby potatoes once they are ready for harvest, and going on previous years, we should be able to eat for around a week for our family of four from one bag of the potatoes.
When shopping around for potato bags, I do find the price can vary completely, and this I find depends on what the bags are made of. I think the tarpaulin material is a cheaper version, but due to its strength that I have noticed as the bags have been filled more and more with the compost, then I am very happy to recommend these are being very good value for money if you are limited on space and want to grow some potatoes in your garden.
As the planting season is progressing, I have noticed that these bags can now be purchased for two packs for just £3 which is even better value for money.