Growing Potatoes - Top Gardening Tips
Potatoes are an extremely popular vegetable to grow due to the fact they are great for patios, raised beds or for planting straight into your garden. Potatoes are grown from seed potatoes, also known as tubers and you can expect to harvest between 6 to 12 potatoes from a single seed potato.
Our Root Veg Planter is perfect for growing 4 varieties of potatoes in 1 planter. The Root Veg Planter is the perfect replacement for traditional veg pots, planters and grow bags.
Varieties of Potatoes
Potatoes fall into two main types of varieties, Earlies and Main crop.
Early potatoes are harvested as ‘new potatoes’ and are ready for harvesting 10-12 weeks after planting. These potatoes are full of flavour and best eaten soon after harvesting.
First earlies are normally planted late February in frost free areas or in a polytunnel or greenhouse, otherwise wait until early march. Second earlies are planted from throughout March.
Main crop potatoes are planted in early April and are left to grow larger. They will be ready to be harvested towards the end of August through to October.
Some of our favourite potato varieties to grow are:
- First Earlies: Pentland Javlin, Rocket and Home Guard
- Second Earlies: Maris Peer, Wilja
- Main Crop: Sante, Maxine, Desiree
- Late crop in time for Christmas: Charlotte, Vivaldi and Maris Piper
Plant potatoes in August to harvest in time for Christmas. Many mail order suppliers now sell late cropping seed potatoes. These are usually early varieties that have been held in cold storage and sent out in August. They don’t require chitting, so plant them as soon as you receive them.
These potatoes will need protecting from frosts in the winter either by putting the container in a greenhouse or covering the container with a fleece and putting them in a sheltered spot away from the worsts frosts. By a house is a great spot.
Chitting is a technique which encourages your seed potatoes/tubers to produce strong healthy shoots before planting them. When you chit your potatoes depends upon which part of the country you are growing in. In warmer parts start chitting in late January, however for those in colder parts February is the best time to chit. You will want to chit your potatoes about 6 weeks before you intend to plant them. Chitting helps your potatoes grow faster and produce potato crops sooner.
To successfully chit/sprout your seed potatoes, place them in a cool place, frost free room with plenty of light in a clean egg box or seed tray with the rose end facing up (the end with the most ‘eyes’). The potatoes are ready for planting when the sprouts measure about 2cm long.
Plant your chitted potatoes when the soil has started to warm up, usually from mid-march or early april. Start by digging a trench 7.5-13cm (3in deep, although the exact depth should vary according to the variety of potato you’re planting.
Potatoes can be planted in a container or out in the garden or raised bed. Always place the tubers/seed potatoes rose end up (the end where tiny buds can be seen).
Growing in Containers/ Root Vegetable Planter
Plant enough potatoes to fit the size of container you are using. You could fit 3 in a 40cm pot, one in a 25cm pot or 5 in our Root Veg Planter.
Add gravel to the base of the pot followed by 4-10cm of compost. Place the potatoes around the edge of the container and cover with 10-20cm of the same compost.
Growing in raised bed/garden
When growing in the garden, use a well-rotted manure dug into the top 30cm of soil. Plant the potatoes about 15cm deep and 30cm apart (35cm for main crop), in rows 60cm apart.
Caring for your Potatoes
Earthing up increases the number of potatoes grown from each tuber and protects them from sun exposure, which would turn them green.
When shoots are showing 10cms above the soil or compost, cover them with more soil or compost leaving 4cm shoots showing at the tip. Continue to “earth up” each time the roots are 10cms above the compost, if you are growing in a container you will ‘earth up’ until you are 4-5cm from the rim of the container.
Watering your Potatoes
Potatoes will rot if they are over watered but they do require a constant supply of water, especially when they are flowering and potatoes are forming.
Root Veg Planter
Root Veg Planter is a space saving potato planter which produces healthier plants and bigger harvests than traditional pots, planters and grow bags by providing your plants with constant access to water without ever over-watering. It's clever design prevents water-logging so that you raise bumper harvests of potatoes everytime.
Simply plant your seed potatoes/tubers in the base of the pot and fill the SmartReservoir and let the FeederMats in the pots pull water up to the young potatoes when they need it. Although the plants have access to water whenever they need it, the tubers are never stood in water, so there's no risk of soggy rotten spuds and you raise bigger harvests of better tasting potatoes.
Watch our video of the first harvest from our Potato Planter after 4 months growth. We harvested the biggest spuds from one of the bulging pots – weighing 1.5kg, making room for the smaller tubers to carry on growing.
Our very own John Molyneux has been growing of potatoes called Arran Pilot in our root veg and potato planter. This first early variety is great to use as salad or new potato.
The Potato Harvester is the perfect potato growing accessory.
Interesting Potato Growing Facts
- Originally from South America, potatoes have been one of the most popular foods in the western world for over 200 years.
- In 1995, potatoes were the first food to be grown in space aboard the space shuttle Columbia
- Potatoes are in the nightshade family – the same as tomatoes and peppers
- The worlds biggest potato was grown in Germany in 1997, weighing 3.2kgs.
- Potatoes are a great provider of Vitamin C! Have a medium portion of new potatoes (175g/6oz) and you'll get 44% of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of this vital vitamin.