Posts Tagged ‘growing potatoes’

Growing Potatoes from Planting to Harvest

March 13th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Growing Potatoes from Planting to Harvest

Potatoes are one of the most satisfying vegetables you can grow. It’s not just the growing part that’s so satisfying – harvest time is what makes the potato really special, when those delicious tubers are finally unearthed like buried nuggets of gold. Garden-grown potatoes are really something else! So if you’ve never tried growing them before, make this the year you do.

Read on or watch the video for our planting to harvest guide to potatoes…

Types of Potato

Before you plant you need to decide what to grow. There are two main types of potato: maincrops and earlies.

Maincrop varieties are usually bulkier and give a bigger harvest, and many can be stored for winter use. Maincrops are typically harvested in late summer or autumn.

Early varieties are ready from early to midsummer and are further divided into first earlies and second earlies. First early varieties are first to crop, while second earlies follow on a few weeks later. Early potatoes tend to be smaller than maincrop types, but they have the best flavour and often have a smoother, waxier texture that makes them perfect in salads. They’re also sublime when served steaming hot, finished with a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of herbs.

Check variety descriptions for potatoes suited to different uses, whether baked, boiled, sautéed or cut up into wedges – or even a combination of these. Some varieties offer good resistance to common diseases including blight, which can ruin a crop in warm, wet summers. Or grow first earlies, which are usually harvested before the main blight risk.

Prepare for PlantingFebruary Gardening Advice - time to start chitting your potatoes

To plant a crop of potatoes you’ll need to get hold of some seed or sprouting potatoes, also sold as simply ‘tubers’. Large seed potatoes can be cut into smaller pieces to make them go further. Make sure each piece has at least two ‘eyes’ and allow the cut to air dry for a day before planting.

In regions where spring’s arrival is a little slower to arrive, it’s worth sprouting or ‘chitting’ your seed potatoes. Do this up to six weeks ahead of planting to give your crop a head start. Lay them out in a single layer so the ends with most eyes – that’s the dimples where the shoots will sprout from – face up. Place them into trays or old egg cartons, which hold the potatoes steady. Keep them in a cool, bright place to sprout thick, sturdy shoots.

Where to Grow Potatoes

Potatoes love rich, moist soil that’s been gradually improved with organic matter such as well-rotted compost or manure. Avoid poorly draining soil to prevent tubers from rotting. A sunny spot on the plot will encourage the strong growth you’re after.

How to Plant Potatoes

Plant first earlies once the soil has begun to warm up in early spring. Second earlies are planted a few weeks later, while maincrops follow on a couple of weeks later still, in mid-spring. You can use our Garden Planner to check the best times to plant in your area, based on data from your local nearest weather station. The Planner is also a great resource for browsing variety descriptions and, of course, to lay out potatoes on your plan so you’ll know exactly how many seed potatoes you’ll need to fill the area you have.

Plant seed potatoes into dug trenches or individual planting holes. Space them out so that they’re a foot (30cm) apart along the row. Additional rows of early varieties should be spaced at least 18 inches (45cm) apart, while maincrops need a minimum of 30 inches (75cm) left between rows. Dig a hole for each potato and plant so it’s around 6in (15cm) deep.

Caring for Potatoes

Shoots should poke above ground within about 2-3 weeks. They’ll tolerate very light frosts but are best covered over with row cover or fleece if something colder is forecast.

Once they reach 6 inches (15cm) tall, begin hilling or earthing up your potatoes. Hilling mounds up the soil along the row to encourage more tubers to grow and to reduce the risk of light exposure, which turns them green. Use a hoe to draw up the surrounding soil around the shoots, leaving just the very tops exposed. Hill in stages like this each time the foliage reaches a similar height above soil level, and continue until the mounds are either a foot (30cm) tall or the foliage above has closed over.

Remove weeds early on, but fast-growing potatoes soon crowd out any competition. Potatoes need ample moisture for all that growth though. Water thoroughly in dry weather so tubers grow to their full potential, free of any cracks or hollows.

When to Harvest

You can harvest tubers small as new potatoes as soon as the plants begin to flower a couple of months after planting. Continue harvesting early varieties in stages from this point on, leaving the remaining plants to grow on until needed. This staggered approach to harvesting makes it easier to enjoy potatoes at their freshest and tastiest.

Maincrop potatoes are usually harvested towards the end of summer or in early autumn once the foliage has died back. Leave the tubers underground for a further two weeks then, on a dry day, lift them up with a fork, taking care not to accidentally pierce any of the tubers. Brush off excess soil, let the potatoes air dry for a few hours then store out of the light in a cool but frost-free place.

You can’t beat a perfect potato! If you have any clever potato growing techniques or advice of your own, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Growing Potatoes in Containers – How to Grow Potatoes in Bags or Pots [video]

April 11th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Growing Potatoes - Nation of Gardeners Potatoes may be inexpensive, but it’s much more satisfying to grow your own. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, but do you have the space to grow them? Well this video offers suggestions on growing potatoes in containers, the perfect solution for small urban gardens!

  • Potatoes can be planted into any pot or container that can hold at least three gallons of potting soil. This could include terracotta pots, potato growing sacks, sturdy shopping bags or for a quirky touch, stacked old tyres.
  • As long as a container can hold an adequate amount of potting soil and offers plenty of drainage for plants, then it will do the job perfectly.
  • There are many advantages to using pots and bags for potatoes; no digging is required, plants are easier to protect from cold weather and soil born pests like slugs and worms are less likely to become an issue.
  • Potato containers can be used to grow almost anywhere; on a patio or balcony, in a greenhouse and within spaces in flower borders.
  • Any potato variety can be grown in pots, but for best results go with an early growing or salad variety. These usually produce less foliage than maincrops, which makes them better suited for compact growing conditions.

These are just a few tips and tricks on growing potatoes in bags and pots. Watch the video below for further advice and a tutorial on how to plant the potatoes you have into containers. If you have suggestions for growing potatoes in containers, feel free to leave your advice in the comments below.

You can view our range of potatoes here.

Growing Potatoes in Containers: How to Grow Potatoes in Bags or Pots

Growing Potatoes in Containers – How to Grow Potatoes in Bags or Pots

How to Choose the Best Potatoes For Your Garden [video]

January 30th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

how to choose the best potatoes to grow in your garden

Do you enjoy eating potatoes, in their many, many different forms? Well, there are plenty of potatoes to suit all tastes and all culinary applications for you to choose from. Choose to grow the right selection and you can enjoy all the fried, boiled and mashed potatoes you can eat throughout the year! Here is a short video on how to choose the best potatoes for your garden!

  • Different varieties of potatoes contain different levels of starch and this gives them different textures.  It also means they will show different habits when cooking them, so it is vital to choose the potato for your tastes and culinary needs.
  • Potatoes high in starch absorb more liquids, therefore causing the potato to break apart during cooking. These are perfect for baking, mashing and making wedges.
  • Waxy potatoes contain less starch and therefore keep their shape when steamed or boiled. This means they are ideal for use in soups and salads.
  • Potatoes are also spilt into sub-types according to when you can expect to crop them:
  1. First earlies grow fast and are ready to eat by summer
  2. Second earlies follow on a couple of weeks later
  3. Maincrop are usually ready mid to late summer and are perfect for overwinter storing
  • Early potatoes are naturally smaller in size than main crop potatoes, and often they won’t store for as long.
  • These are all qualities you must consider when choosing your variety of potatoes.

Watch the video for a tour through the world of the potato and why not have a read of this article that has fascinating facts and figures about the not-so-humble potato.  Once you have started growing your crops you might want to take a look at this video that gives you tips on how to control blight, a common affliction of potatoes in vegetable plots around the country. And did you know that potatoes can be grown very effectively in containers? So there is no need for a large veg plot for growing them.  If you fancy giving it a go once you have lifted your crops, then try a potato clamp for overwintering your precious crops.

Which are you favourite potatoes to grow? And how early do you plant and crop your potatoes? If you have any top tips then post in the comments below.

How to Choose the Best Potatoes For Your Garden