Growing potatoes for the first time?

Seed potatoes are traditionally planted on Good Friday, but you actually have a much bigger planting window than that! Seed potatoes can be planted anytime from March to July really, without any major problems.

They are incredibly easy to grow, and as a novice potato grower, the only thing you need to get your head around is the concept of “earthing up” (explained in point 5).

Here’s how to grow your spuds:

  1. If you have time to chit your seed potatoes, this will give them a head start. Simply pop your seed potatoes in open egg cartons on a windowsill and leave them for a few weeks to form shoots. Then plant them out in mid-late April.
  2. While you are waiting for your chitting, it’s a really good idea to prepare a bed for your spuds and cover it with black polythene to help warm the soil a little before you plant.
  3. If growing in the ground, choose a nice, sunny site that has well draining soil. It is worth digging in some fresh compost before planting. Plant them in trenches or holes that are approx 20cm deep. Try to plant your seed potatoes 30-40cm apart, in rows 60-70cm apart to give them plenty of space for their roots and tubers. This will help prevent blight as well as giving you a bigger crop.
  4. If growing in planters/containers, make sure they are wide and deep. Big buckets, stacks of tyres or old wheelbarrows work really well, as long as you make sure there are drainage holes at the base. Fill them half with compost, then pop the seed potatoes on top and cover with 10cm compost. You can easily plant 5-6 seed potatoes into a large container.
  5. When you see the first foliage peeping up over the soil, earth up your potatoes by covering the green with soil, like a molehill if growing in the ground, or just an extra layer of compost if growing in pots. Repeat this several times over the following weeks until the pot is full, or until your molehills are getting a bit over the top.
  6. Then all you need to do is water well during dry spells and wait until harvest time.

Harvest time depends on the type of potato you are growing – if you’re planting in April/May, then earlies and new potatoes are usually ready to harvest by late June/July, whilst main crop varieties will need a few extra weeks and can be harvested in August.