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Growing Potatoes

Choosing Seed (Stage 1)

Always use healthy certified seed potatoes. Certified Basic Seed Potatoes are the highest grade of seed potatoes available.

Check the label on your seed potatoes – it should show the certification number, grade, size and certifying authority and many other details. This is important as this shows that the seed is clean stock.

Chitting (Stage 2)

Unwrap the seed potatoes and place in a shallow tray or egg tray in cool, light, frost free place, several weeks prior to planting. The seed potatoes will develop strong sprouts (chits) which help them grow quickly once planted. This is helpful but not essential process.

Soil Preparation & Planting (Stage 3)

Growing potatoes is easy! Dig the potato plot or put in tubs and planters in autumn or spring, so that the seed potatoes can be easily planted once soil temperatures are over 8°C.

Earthing Up (Stage 4)

When potatoes have emerged a few inches, pull earth around the plant with a rake, leaving peaked rows. Earthing-up gives the plant more soil to grow in, stops sunlight turning exposed tubers green and improves drainage. It is also a quick and effective way of controlling weeds. Repeat the process as required, until the foliage is too big.

Harvesting (Stage 5)

Before harvesting, carefully scrape away some soil and check that the potatoes have grown to the size that you like.

First Earlies are best enjoyed when they are small and fresh in June/July/August and Second Earlies follow on. Maincrop varieties are best left until October for size and skin set. Once the Maincrop foliage has died back the potatoes should be left in the ground for 2-3 weeks to allow the skin to set.

Planting in containers

A container 45cm (18in) deep and 40cm (16in) in diameter holds 2 seed potatoes.

Fill the base with 10cm (4in) of compost mixed with perlite to aid drainage. Add the seed potatoes and cover with 10cm (4in) of compost. As the plant grows, keep adding compost. The plant will grow through the compost and continue to form potatoes. When the plant reaches the top of the container, allow it to grow normally. Harvest when the potatoes have reached the desired size (check by feeling through the compost). Water well but take care not to overwater.