Have you planted your Christmas potatoes yet? Late August/September is the best time for planting potatoes ready to harvest in time for Christmas.
There are many types of potato suitable for growing ready for Christmas - some of our favourites are Charlotte, Vivaldi, Nicola and Maris Piper. Many mail order suppliers now sell late cropping seed potatoes - usually early varieties that have been held in cold storage and sent out in August. They won’t require chitting, so plant them as soon as you receive them.
Christmas potatoes should be planted in midsummer to harvest in time for Christmas – you can get late cropping seed potatoes from many mail order suppliers.
Potatoes planted outside in the ground in midsummer should grow and form tubers before the first frosts in autumn, especially in sheltered gardens in the south. Carry on reading for our best tips for frost protection!
Here’s an overview of how to plant your potatoes in containers - the advantage of growing in containers is that they’ll be portable – you can move them under the cover of a greenhouse, polytunnel or conservatory when the frosts come.
- The first thing you must do is choose your container wisely – potatoes are grown in containers at least 30 cm deep and wide. The size of your container will affect how many potatoes you can plant.
- You can fit 5 in our Quadgrow Root Veg Planters. Another great option is our potato grow pots – they come in a pack of three and you can get three potatoes in each. Make sure the container you are using has drainage holes in the base if you are not using a specialist potato-growing container.
- Add a layer of gravel to the base of your pot followed by 4-10cm of garden compost. If you are using a container on the larger side (more than 30cm deep), fill it halfway with compost.
- Place your potato tubers around the edge of the container and cover them up with another 10-20cm of compost.
If you're planning on growing your potatoes in pots this year, why not get your potatoes off to the best start with our Complete Potato Growing Kit. The kit includes everything you need to grow potatoes through the winter, including two potato planters,a bottle of Aztec Gold Leaf Magic, copper slug tape and frost fleece.
If you are planning on planting your potatoes out in the garden or in a raised bed, dig a well-rotted compost into the top 30 cm of soil. Place your potatoes around 15cm deep and 30 cm apart.
This is an important part of looking after your potatoes – the tubers will rot if they are over watered, but equally need a constant supply of water all season-long, particularly when they are flowering and the potato tubers are forming.
If you’re watering by hand with a watering can, be sure you do a thorough job, applying enough to moisten the soil 8 to 10 inches below ground.
Growing in containers? The Quadgrow Root Veg planter we spoke about earlier is the perfect solution for stress-free watering – the SmartReservoir and FeederMats draw the perfect amount of water up into the soil to ensure constant access without overwatering. All you need to do is keep the reservoir topped up every 2 weeks! This design ensures your potato plants will remain in perfect health and can raise bigger harvests with better tasting potatoes! No wonder the Quadgrow is an award winner!
To give your potatoes an extra boost, add a liquid fertiliser – our Nutrigrow offers all the essential nutrients (you get it free if you get our Root Veg planter).
As the foliage begins to develop, it’s time to earth up your potatoes. This increases the number of potatoes grown from each tuber, as well as protecting them from sun exposure (that would turn the potatoes green!)
When shoots are around 10cms above the soil or compost, cover them up with some more compost leaving around 4cm of shoots visible. Carry on earthing up each time the roots are 10cm above the compost. If you are growing in a container carry on until you’re about 5cm from the rim of the container – you need to leave space for watering.
In late autumn the foliage will go yellow and die down – this can then be removed and added to the compost heap.
These are the biggest risks to your Christmas potatoes, especially if you are planning on planting outdoors.
If you are growing under cover in something like a greenhouse, ensure it remains frost free. Bubble wrap is an effective insulator against frosts, but if you have a power supply it can be worth investing in a heater.
Frost fleeces and cloches are another effective protection from both the weather, pests and birds. Potatoes growing in pots can be covered with a pot frost cover, whilst potatoes grown in the ground would benefit from either a frost fleece, or being covered with a cloche or vegetable growing tunnel.
Don’t forget, hedgehogs are great natural predators of slugs. If you’ve seen some scurrying around your garden or allotment, consider getting a hedgehog habitat and food to attract them, they’ll stick around and eat up to 80 slugs a night!
Once your tubers are ready you can actually leave them in compost kept fairly dry until they are needed. If you are in a cold area, or the soil they are in is wet and heavy, you’re best off harvesting and re burying them in sand or soil in a frost-free place (preferably indoors, such as in a garden shed.
It’s an endless debate! There are so many ways to serve the humble spud - mashed, boiled, roasted, crispy skin, smothered in butter, drowned in gravy - no matter how you prefer them, they're a must for Christmas dinner!
Why not add some homegrown herbs to make them even more special? We can’t wait to see how yours turn out! Be sure to send us pictures – we’d love to hear your favourite recipes!
If you would like more information on growing potatoes or simply have a question you would love answering, our Gardening Angels can help.
Give us a call on 0845 602 3774 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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