A handy, step-by-step guide to growing your own delicious potatoes. If you need more information on these little beauties, or some advice on which varieties to grow, check out our ‘Spud-tacular Potatoes’ blog. Happy Growing!

Things you will need;

 

Preparing

Before planting the seed potatoes, in order to ensure good growth, the potatoes should be ‘chitted’ before planting. This is the process of allowing the potatoes to grow shoots before they are planted. Keep the potatoes in a cool, dry, frost-proof but light place to chit. A perfect way to do this is to stand them in an egg box in the greenhouse or shed. Once the shoots are about 3cm tall the potatoes are ready.

Potatoes 'chitting' in an egg box

Planting

Choose where you are going to sow your potato. If they are going in the ground or a raised bed, ensure it has not been used for potatoes during the previous year. If you have limited space, raised beds, containers or potato growing bags are just as efficient. Seed Potatoes should be sown between late winter and early spring, depending on the variety and the weather. In order to maximise your chances of a good crop the potatoes should be sown approximately 2 weeks after the last frost of the year, although if they are grown in a container they may be planted early as they are more protected.

Planting Guidelines:

First earlies – Mid to Late March

Second earlies – Late March to mid-April

Maincrops – Mid- to late April.

Potatoes will grow in any soil and position, however, to maximise your crop, use a nutrient rich well-rotted organic compost and choose a generally sunny site. As potatoes are quite ‘greedy’ your soil may benefit from using an organic potato fertiliser. This will help to ensure the potatoes are getting the right nutrients you can add fertiliser when planting and during earthing up. If using a container only half fill it with compost to start and position the potatoes evenly apart. If planting in the ground or raised beds create rows for the potatoes to sit in. Plant potatoes with the ‘eyes’ or ‘shoots’ facing upwards, here are our guides for spacing. Don’t worry if you do not have enough room to follow this guide, these measurements are only as a guide... Your potatoes will still grow like troopers if you don’t follow this!

Spacing Guidelines:

Earlies/Salad - 12cm Deep. 30cm Apart. 60cm between rows.

Maincrop – 12cm Deep. 38cm Apart. 75cm between rows.

Potatoes growing in rows

Earthing Up

As the potatoes begin to grow, most people protect them by ‘earthing up’. This is the process of adding more compost on top of the potatoes as the foliage begins to grow. When the stems reach approximately 20cm high, draw soil up around the foliage, leaving a few centimetres sticking out. Repeat this process a few times until your potatoes are ready to crop. Earthing up helps to protect the new foliage from frost and the developing potatoes from sunlight. During the earthing up process, more fertiliser can be added to help maximise your crop.

 

Potatoes growing

Caring

Don’t forget that potato plants are still a living plant, they need water to survive! If it is a particularly warm or dry summer water them regularly. Potatoes can also suffer from problems such as manganese deficiency, copper mixture can be sprayed onto the leaves of the potatoes to help prevent this.

Harvesting

Depending on the variety, the potatoes will be ready to harvest from about May to October. Earlies and salad varieties are the best when they are about the size of a hen’s egg. Maincrop varieties should be left until the foliage yellows and dies down. If in the ground or raised beds, use a potato harvesting scoop to sift through the soil and scoop up the potatoes. If the potatoes are in a container or potato growing bag, simply turn the contents out into a border or another container and catch the potatoes!

 

Left - Potato Harvesting Scoop. Right - Hessian Sack

Storing

Maincrop varieties will store in a cool, dry, dark and frost-free place for many months. Ensure that you only store perfect potatoes without any damage as otherwise they will rot. Hessian sacks are great for storing the delicious beauties to enjoy all year round until the next harvest!