How to grow potatoes

When growing potatoes, try to buy your seed potatoes or tubers in February and March for planting in April.

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A five-step guide to potato growing

  1. Seed potatoes should grow shoots before planting. Leave them in a light, frost-free place – eg a shed with a window – in a process known as ‘chitting’.
  2. Each tuber should have three or four strong shoots 2cm-3cm high, preferably at the upward-facing end when planted. Remove any others.
  3. Aim for around six tubers per square metre. Plant your potatoes 12cm deep and 30cm apart, with 60cm between rows for earlies and 75cm for maincrop.
  4. When shoots appear, scrape soil on them, forming a ridge over the plant. Continue this as shoots show through until your ridge is about 30cm high. This is known as earthing up.
  5. First or second earlies are new potatoes. Maincrop are larger potatoes with a much higher yield. Your earlies are ready when their flowers open. Your maincrop can be left in the ground and harvested from late summer.

Growing potatoes in pots

Potatoes are notorious for needing lots of space, but you can use containers.

Old compost bags will do. If placed on your patio, poke some holes in the bottom for drainage. Also, roll down the outside of large bags so you don't need much soil to fill it, and your plant isn’t growing in the dark.

Put 10cm of earth in the bottom of your bag, put in a tuber and cover with another 5cm of soil. Earth up and harvest as above.

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