Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow in your garden. You can grow potatoes either in the ground or you can grow them in potato bags or containers and it really couldn’t be easier with our expert advice on how to grow potatoes.
How to Plant Potatoes in the Ground?
Potato planting times depends on a variety of factors for example weather, soil and regional variations. However, our table below is a general guide on when to plant potatoes. When growing your own potatoes choose an open position in full sun on fertile, well drained soil. Avoid soil where potatoes have grown for two years in succession as this will increase the risk of disease. A slightly acidic soil is preferable but not essential as potatoes will tolerate a wide range of soils. When growing potatoes on more alkaline soils, apply sulphur to the top of the potato ridge after planting. Applying sulphur maximizes the yield and deters skin blemishes like Common Scab that are particularly troublesome in alkaline conditions.
Lifting times will vary depending on the growing season, weather conditions at harvest time and the size of tuber you want. However the table above provides a rough guide for each crop type. Start to harvest first as ‘new potatoes’ when the plants begin to flower, approximately 10 weeks from planting. Tubers will generally become larger the longer their growing period.
Maincrop varieties are usually left for at least two weeks after the leaves and haulms (stems) have withered, to allow the skins to set. Cut down the stems with secateurs to just above soil level as the leaves wither and yellow, or if they show signs of blight. After harvesting, leave the tubers on the soil surface for a few hours to dry and cure the skin. Once dry store them in paper or hessian sacks in a dark, cool but frost free place. Avoid storing in polythene bags as potatoes will ‘sweat’ and rot.
In the UK, second cropping potatoes are best planted outdoors in early August and no later than the end of August. If planting in a protected environment (e.g. in a polytunnel or greenhouse) planting can be delayed by a week or so but must be planted by the end of the first week of September. Planting second cropping potatoes later than this is likely to produce disappointing results. There is no need to pre-chit the seed potatoes – this will happen quite naturally after planting. Second cropping potatoes can be lifted up to Christmas time. However, leaving them in the ground for this length of time does make them more susceptible to blight and pest attack (e.g. slugs, wireworm). To find out more about our second cropping potatoes view here.
Growing Potatoes in Bags and Containers
For more information on how to grow potatoes including those troublesome potato pests view our full guide. If you like information on how to grow sweet potatoes we have a guide for that also. If you have any further questions please post below and we will do our best to help you. Happy Gardening.
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.