Growing Potatoes

 

Harvesting Potatoes
The Basics

Grow your crop from ‘seed potatoes’, remember to chit your potatoes before planting. This is really easy to do, simply place your seed potatoes on a window sill or in an egg box until they start to grow shoots.

How to Plant

Potatoes do well in all types of soil, but the richer the better, so dig in plenty of well-rotted organic matter, such as garden compost or chicken manure.

While main crop potatoes grow well in the ground, early or salad varieties will also do well in containers. We also stock special growing bags, kits and containers in store which are ideal for small spaces and for patios.

When growing potatoes in the ground, earlies and salad types should be planted in March, 12cm deep and 30cm apart, with 60cm between rows. Plant maincrop varieties later, in April. These need to stay in the ground longer and require more space to produce a decent crop. Plant them 12cm deep and 38cm apart, with 75cm between rows.

If planting in containers, plant between 3 and 5 seeds per container and ensure they are evenly spaced. Fill your container ¾ full with compost then place in your seeds covering the final volume with compost.

Plant potatoes with the shoots (or ‘eyes’) facing upwards.

Check out our easy to follow video on how to plant potatoes:

Tending your crop

Water potatoes regularly, especially during warm, dry spells, and keep them weed free. As the plants grow, cover the shoots with soil to stop the developing tubers becoming green and inedible. This is called ‘earthing up’. When the crop reaches 20cm tall, use a rake to draw soil around the foliage, leaving the top few centimetres poking out the top. As plants continue to grow you will need to earth them up again.

If earthing up sounds too much like hard work, once you’ve planted your potatoes, cover the area with black plastic. When you can see bumps under the sheeting, make a cross cut in the plastic for the foliage to pop through. The plastic will shield the tubers from light and act like a mulch to reduce weeding.

Harvesting potatoes

Depending on the type of potato, you’ll have crops from May to October.

Lift earlies and salad potatoes when the plants are still flowering and the potatoes are about the size of a large hen’s egg. Cut the tops off, then gently prise the plants out of the ground with a fork. Dig up the potatoes as and when you need them.

Leave maincrop potatoes in the ground until the leaves turn yellow and die down. Choose a dry day to dig up your crop. Cut off the tops and dig up your potatoes, discarding any damaged ones. To harvest potatoes grown in pots, simply tip out the contents and enjoy the rich – and easy – pickings!

Storing potatoes

Maincrop potatoes will store well for many months in a cool but frost-free place. Only store perfect ones, removing any showing signs of damage, and don’t wash before storage. All light must be excluded to avoid potatoes turning green and poisonous. Hessian or thick brown-paper sacks are perfect for the job. Check crops in store regularly, removing any rotten ones.

Potato varieties to try

PotatoPoster

Early

  • ‘Annabelle’ – compact, small tubers with white skins and golden flesh. Disease resistant

Salad

  • ‘Charlotte’ – yellow skin and flesh, with a lovely flavour. Remains firm when cooked

Maincrop

  • ‘Cara’ – round, waxy and drought resistant, it bakes well
  • ‘Setanta’ – drought tolerant and great for roasting and baking

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