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Potatoes are one of the most widely used and versatile vegetables, and are not difficult to grow. They will grow in most soil types, although they will do best in soil which is well drained and free from stones. Potatoes are split into three groups - First Early, Second Early and Maincrop varieties.

1. First Early
These varieties are generally ready to crop in 14-16 weeks, and generally produce small "new" potatoes, mostly suited for boiling.

2. Second Early
Varieties taking 16-18 weeks to harvest, and usually producing small "new potatoes, mostly suited for boiling.

3. Maincrop
These take from 18-20 weeks to mature, and often produce larger potatoes suitable for chips, roast potatoes, mash or jackets.


Jan - Feb Set seed potatoes on a windowsill to chit
Late March Plant out the chitted seed potatoes
Mid - late April Last date for planting out
May Earth up
Mid-late June First early varieties should be ready to crop
July Crop second early varieties
Aug - Oct Lift maincrop varieties
Nov - Dec Storage


Click thumbnails for larger images

Chitting Select potatoes about the size of a chicken egg. Place these in egg boxes and stand them in a warm, light place, but not in direct sunlight. A north-facing windowsill is an ideal spot. They should produce "chits" as shown.
Planting Out First & Second Earlies - Plant 30cm /1' apart with 60cm/2' between rows, about 12cm (5") deep.
Maincrop - Plant 40cm /16" apart with 75cm/2' 6" between rows, about 12cm (5") deep.
Seed potatoes should be planted with the chits facing upward.
Alternatively, plant in pots or bags as shown here:
How to Grow Potatoes in Bags
Earthing Up The process of digging trenches between the rows of potatoes and creating ridges above the plants. This can be done straight after planting, or as the foliage breaks the surface.
Contrary to popular belief, the tubers form on buried stems of the plant, not on the roots.
Frost Protection Once they have broken the surface, potatoes will need to be protected from frosts. Earthing up will protect them for longer, or use horticultural fleece or cloches to help against late frosts.
Containers can be moved into a shed or greenhouse overnight, or insulated in situ.
Digging Out Using a fork, begin digging in the trenches, carefully working your way toward the plant stems. You won't find any tubers deeper than where you planted the seed potato. Any potatoes damaged by the fork should be used first and not stored.
If you planted potatoes in containers, it is simple to empty the whole container and sift through the soil to find the potatoes.
Storage Dry the potatoes, brush off any loose mud without damaging the skins. Store in a dark, cool place with good ventilation - paper or hessian sacks in a shed or garage are often used.  

Saving Your Own Seed Potatoes



Green Potatoes Potatoes which have grown near the surface or which are left out in the sunshine may well turn green. These are poisonous, and should be disposed of.  
Potato Apples


After flowering, potatoes will produce fruits resembling small brownish tomatoes. These are also poisonous, and should be disposed of. The problem can be avoided by removing the flower heads from the plants, which will not harm the crop.  
Blight This is the most serious disease of potatoes, and can destroy the entire crop. There is no cure for blight, and affected plants should be cut down as soon as the disease is noticed. Do not put diseased material in your compost bin.
Provided the tubers are unaffected, there is no problem in eating them, though it is not advisable to try to store them.


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