Care and cultivation of Seed Potatoes

After unpacking your seed potatoes, put them in a cool, light, well ventilated and frost free place, away from direct sunlight.

Seed potatoes from Mr Fothergill'sPotatoes can be divided into four categories, planted from March to May (after any danger of frosts).

The chitting process allows strong green shoots (chits) to develop on the seed potato tuber before planting. Although not essential it is particularly beneficial for the earlier cropping potatoes, because it gives the potato a quick start thus cropping slightly earlier.  Later cropping potatoes are less likely to need chitting as warmer soil temperatures can make a greater difference.

Start chitting (where necessary) by setting the seed potatoes out, side by side, blunt end uppermost, in single layers in seed trays or a wooden box. Place in a light, cool, well-ventilated spot to encourage the development of stocky shoots 2-2.5cm (three quarters to 1 inch) long, prior to planting.

You can order your seed potatoes from Mr Fothergill’s on the website, or by mail order from our catalogue.

Soil Preparation and Planting

Before planting it is worth considering ‘crop rotation’.  Potatoes are susceptible to a wide range of minor pests and also one or two major ones. Potato pests have a limited survival time if they cannot get at the potatoes, so by the standard three crop rotation will help in keeping pests at bay.

Potatoes thrive in deep, fertile and well drained soils.  Soil conditions prior to planting are more important than precise planting times.  Prepare the soil well before planting, breaking down any clumps and adding a quality fertilizer or manure. Planting too early in cold, wet soils may cause rotting.  We recommend you delay planting until the soil is both warm and moist to touch.  In most areas this is in the March to May period.

Planting times and distances

  • First and Second Earlies plant from mid to late March, 25 to 30cm (10-12 inches) apart in rows 60cm (2ft) apart.
  • All Maincrop tubers plant from early to late April, 30 to 36cm (12-14 inches) apart in rows 70 to 76 cm (28-30 inches) apart.

Plant all tubers 10 to 15cm (4-6 inches) deep.  Cover the tubers and any shoots with at least 2.5cm (1 inch) of soil. Once the shoots appear above the soil surface, they will need to be earthed up by forming ridges. This gives the plant a volume of soil in which to grow; it stops the tubers turning green, improves drainage and ventilation.  It is also an effective way of controlling weeds.  Repeat this process until the foliage is too big to allow it to happen.


Plants are ready to dig for the first ‘new potatoes’ when the tops reach full size. Weather permitting, the will usually attempt to produce flowers, or at least buds at this time.  When harvesting remove all tubers, however small, to avoid problems with any diseases next year and to prevent volunteers from appearing in your plot.

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