Growing and Harvesting Your Own Seed Potatoes
It’s the perfect time to start thinking about the winter and festive crop season. Potatoes are a versatile vegetable and are eaten all year round. This late summer period is the perfect time to start planting potatoes for a festive harvest.
Growing Seed Potatoes
Growing potatoes can be fun and rewarding. They are one of the easier vegetables to grow. You can grow potatoes in a small space in the garden or on your patio or balcony by growing them in bags or containers.
Planting your crop during August will ensure that you have a winter harvest. Nothing better than having home-grown roast potatoes with your Christmas dinner.
Most early potatoes take about 12 weeks from planting to cropping. Making August the perfect month to plant your crops.
What is Chitting?
Chitting your seed potatoes means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting. Often, they will have some chitting when purchased. It is often beneficial to chit an early crop but not essential. It is a personal preference.
• Each seed potato has a more rounded, blunt end and has 'eyes'.
• Stand the tubers with the blunt end uppermost in trays or old egg boxes, with plenty of natural light.
• The potatoes are ready to be planted out when the shoots are 1.5-2.5cm (0.5-1in) long.
How do you plant your seed potatoes chitted or not?
The soil should be open, well-drained, and has not been used to grow garlic, onions, shallots, or leeks in the past two years. This would affect growth. Start by digging a trench 7.5-13cm (3-5in) deep, although the exact depth should vary according to the variety of potato you are planting. See packet for directions.
• Add a light sprinkling of potato fertiliser or Growmore or blood, fish, and bone applied to the soil surface or spread along the sides of the trench before you begin planting.
• Plant the potatoes about 30cm apart with 50-60cm between the rows
• Handle your chitted tubers with great care, gently setting them into the trench with the shoots pointing upwards, being careful not to break them. Cover the potatoes lightly with soil.
• As soon as the shoots appear, cover them with soil. Do this regularly to protect the shoot from frost. Each plant will have a small mound around it about 15cm or higher. This process also helps crop yield.
• The crops should be watered well during dry spells. This month is due to be hot so make sure you water them plenty. Irrigation systems are a great way to regulate watering.
Harvesting your Seed Potatoes
- Feed with either All-Purpose Feeder or Fish, Blood, and Bone feed. This will help the crop grow.
- Watch out for slugs, snails, and other minibeasts as they will try to feed off your crop
- Potatoes growing during early autumn are prone to potato blight, take precautions against this by giving them plenty of space to grow.
- It’s best to use a cloche or growing tunnel to protect the crops.
- Tunnels, cloche, and fleeces will all help protect against frost. But monitor the weather and adjust your crops accordingly.