Growing Potatoes

You say potato but we say tato, tatws, taten and tatan. … 🤣

Growing potatoes can sometimes sound complicated! So where to start? First you need to find seed potatoes (these are simply last year’s potatoes that have small eyes ready to germinate). You can use potatoes from the supermarket but they won’t be as good as seed potatoes or saving some of last year’s potatoes. Potatoes from supermarkets have been treated with chemicals to inhibit the growth of shoots which will only slow down plant growth and reduce your yield.

What are first and second earlies? There are generally three groups of potatoes:

  • First earlies – fast growing 8 – 10 weeks, plant in March and ready for June.
  • Second earlies – take slightly longer than first earlies 12 – 14 weeks, plant in March and April and ready for July and August.
  • Main crop – slow growing 16 – 20 weeks, plant in late April and ready for August to October, good winter storage.

In each group of potatoes, there are hundreds of different varieties that grow and taste differently. What varieties am I growing?

  • Early potatoes: Foremost – Quick and delicious.
  • Second earlies: Nadine – Best potato ever, tasty, bulky and great for all kinds of dishes especially baked potatoes!
  • Main crop: Sarpo Mira – Blight resistant so no problem losing potatoes and making sure we always have a good winter crop. Stores especially well up to 10 months in a dark and dry space.

How do I grow them? I grow potatoes in 30 litre black buckets and not in the soil. The main reason is that I am a no-dig gardener and do not want to disturb the soil structure but I have also found the results to be much better. I usually use compost straight from the compost heap which is very strong and nitrogen rich. The potatoes will use up this nitrogen as they are hungry plants and help create a better balance in the compost. I will then be able to re-use the compost to grow other things like carrots and seedling transplants.

Important tip: Chit (Place in egg box with eyes pointing up) at this time of year on a warm window sill to encourage germination. This can accelerate growth by as much as two weeks!

Good luck 😃👌