So you bought seed potatoes – what do you do with them?

comment : Off
kestrel potato

Kestrel potatoes

Having made the difficult choice about which to grow it’s a relief to find that potatoes are quite easy plants to grow, although a little extra care can give better crop. Here are some rules of thumb.

Wait a bit!

The potatoes you’ve bought are already ready to start growing and will soon start to sprout. However, the soil is too cold to plant them outside yet. So, to stop the sprouts becoming long and fragile, the tubers should be placed in trays in a light, cool [but frost-free] place so the sprouts that grow will be strong and green – put the end with most eyes uppermost. This is called ‘chitting’.

Plant out in April

Planting potatoes: the most important thing is to have warm soil, usually sometime in April – tubers put into cold, damp soil are off to a bad start!

In the garden, choose quite a sunny position for your potatoes; they will grow in most soils other than ones that are waterlogged or very, very sandy – make sure the soil is loose and not compacted [dig if necessary]. Potatoes are ‘hungry’ plants so add some compost or when you plant.

Space tubers 30cm apart for earlies, a bit more for second earlies and 36cm for main crops. Between rows allow 45cm for earlies and up to 70cm for main crops; allowing more space will give larger, baking size potatoes. In beds you can plant potatoes in blocks 30 to 36cm apart.

Maincrop? Earlies? Forgotten what sort you’ve bought?
There were so many potatoes at Potato Day last week it wouldn’t be at all surprising if you had mislaid information about what you bought and what sort they are. Remember you can refer back to our Seed potato varieties available at Potato Day 2017 page to check your varieties.

Planting and earthing up

Plant 7-15cm deep and cover with at least 3cm of soil. As the leaves come through cover them over again using soil from around the plants, or use straw or grass clippings. This known as ‘earthing up’ and helps stop the new potatoes going green controls any weeds.

That’s it!

And apart from earthing up there’s not much to do – if it is very dry when the plants are flowering watering can help increase the size of the crop; you need about 10 litres per plant and need to make sure the water gets to the soil!