After eating your own weight in food over the holidays you don’t really want to be thinking about more food. However, now is the time to start thinking about sowing vegetables ready for later in the year, and most importantly of all, those delicious roast potatoes! Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow which produce huge satisfaction when you get your first yield. Not only are they easy to grow, but they also have a wealth of uses; chips, roasted, mashed, baked, boiled, steamed... There is always a use for a good potato!
These days most people don’t have access to allotments, or very large gardens, however; organic, home grown veg is on the rise! So ... You'll be thrilled to know that the good almighty potato is super super easy to grow and really doesn’t mind how you do it. They can be grown in the ground, in raised borders, in greenhouses, in pots, and even in potato bags
! See how easy and versatile these things are! If you’re not sure where to start, or maybe you’re a regular potato grower just having a read, here is some handy advice! Happy Growing!
There are 3 main recognised types of seed potato; First Early, Second Early and Maincrop. Some potato growers will also specify some as ‘Salad Crop’ however, these potatoes are usually just First Earlies that are mostly used as salad potatoes. An example of this is the potato ‘Charlotte’, which is a First Early but quite often referred to as Salad Crop. First Early varieties generally produce a smaller potato sometimes referred to as a ‘new’ potato. Maincrop varieties produce bigger more classic potatoes, and Second Early varieties produce something in-between! If you’ve gotten this far and wondering how you would go about growing these delicious beauties, check out our step-by-step easy-to-grow guide
Now you’re potty about potatoes, but which varieties do you choose? There's a huge range out there but here are some of our expertly chosen ones to suit you.
- Duke of York – Favourite first early with a delicious flavour that matures into a floury general-purpose potato.
- Epicure – the most popular first early potato in Scotland. High yields, quick growth and recovers well from frost damage.
- Red Duke of York –another first early with delicious flavour but more vigorous than the white Duke of York. Large tubers and impressive foliage – make lovely crisps.
- Maris Peer – a well flavoured salad/boiling potato admired by restaurants.
- Wilja – A really good general-purpose potato. High yields and large tubers.
- Majestic – The most popular variety of the 20th Excellent yields, stores well, disease resistant, drought resistant.
- Desiree – The world's most popular red potato.
- Charlotte – incredibly popular salad potato.
Left to Right: Desiree (Maincrop) Charlotte (First Early/Salad) Wilja (Second Early)
Perfect for small spaces
- Swift – A very early potato with short foliage which makes it excellent for growing in pots.
- Accord – High yielding early potato good for containers.
- Maris Peer – Excellent patio potato due to its purple flowers.
- Lady Balfour – High yields in soil of low fertility.
- Ratte – Nutty flavour salad crop with short stems and nice flowers.
Maris Peer foliage with flowers
- Casablanca – first early
- Saxon – Second early
- Maris Peer – Maincrop
- Sante – Maincrop
- Juliette – salad crop
As with all vegetables, potatoes can suffer from a range of diseases and problems including deficiencies. Potato blight is one of the most common diseases particularly in wet and warm summers. It appears as brown rot affecting the foliage, but it can also cause the tubers to rot. Blight is very difficult to stop therefore blight resistant varieties are the best solution to avoiding it. Another common issue, Potato scab, causes raised scab-like lesions on the surface of the potato. It is merely an unsightly disease and does not affect the taste of the potato. Sometimes whilst your potatoes are growing, they acquire deficiencies in trace elements such as manganese. This may present itself as black spots on the leaves and may affect the yield of the potato. In order to combat this a general copper mixture
for use on plants should be sprayed onto the leaves. The copper mixture can also be used as a preventative in order to protect the potatoes from deficiencies before they occur.
Potato Scab Potato Blight beginning to affect the foliage
Now you are armed with a mash-ive wealth of spud knowledge! There are no excuses not to grow your own potatoes... imagine the satisfaction next Christmas when you are complimented on your roast potatoes and you can proudly boast that you grew them yourself! Once again, Happy Growing!