In this masterclass you’ll find some of the very best advice on growing potatoes. It comes courtesy of gardeners who not only produce bumper crops at home or at their allotments, but also share their potato wisdom through their blogs and YouTube channels. If you want to get the best from your spuds this year, you’ve come to the right place – our round-up of expert tips to help you grow perfect potatoes.
If no-dig is your thing, there are few experts who compare to Charles Dowding. Since the early 1980s, Charles has worked his own no-dig market gardens, and his blog explains the concepts and practices of this time-saving way of growing great veg with few weeds. Planting potatoes, he explains in his short video, is as simple as using a trowel to make a slit in your compost mulch and slipping the chitted potato into the soil.
Matt – Grow Like Grandad
Should you remove the flowers from your potato plants, or leave them be? That’s the question Grow Like Grandad’s Matt Peskett sets out to settle when he decides to pick the flowers from half of his Charlotte potatoes, while leaving the other half to bloom unhindered. Do check out his post for the results of his experiment – and prepare to be surprised.
Dan – Allotment Diary
Planting your potatoes in pots? Watch as Dan, giant veg grower at the Allotment Diary plants up his containers – he says he finds the 60 litre pots more manageable because they seem to retain moisture better than the smaller ones. Dan’s video is clear and easy to follow and shows you exactly how to fill your pots, add fertiliser, and pop your chitted potatoes in – he fills the bins half full with compost, adding more soil as the potatoes grow.
Tony – Simplify Gardening
For those with questions about sprouting or chitting potatoes, Tony at YouTube Channel, Simplify Gardening offers an excellent overview of the subject. His advice is to buy your seed potatoes as early as possible to give you time to sprout them ready to plant out as the soil begins to warm. This is especially beneficial for early and second early crops, because the head start helps them to thrive in the comparatively cool spring soil.
John – Allotment & Gardens
“Potato blight is the worst problem that the potato grower faces,” says John at Allotment & Gardens. A blogger with a wealth of gardening know-how to offer, his comprehensive article on this destructive potato disease gives you lots of information to help you beat blight, as well as tips on what to do if you’re unlucky. Avoid watering your potato plants from above, says John – it’s much safer to apply water straight to the base of the plant.
Mark – Mark’s Veg Plot
Get your potato lingo right with this jargon buster article from Mark’s Veg Plot. Here he explains the differences between first and second earlies and main crop potatoes, as well as exploring different flesh types. There’s also a glossary of terms, info on planting times, storage, and more. In a second article, Mark discusses the merits of earthing up, asking ‘is it worth doing?” Why not test both methods yourself to see what works best for you.
Sue – Green Lane Allotments
“For years we planted potatoes the traditional way – the hard way,” say the very green fingered gardening couple at Green Lane Allotments. That was before they learned the no-dig method. If you’d like a little more proof that simply troweling your chitted seed potatoes into fertilised soil does the trick, check out the pictures of the harvest. It wasn’t a great growing year for anything, these gardeners say, but their crop of potatoes looks pretty good.
Nick and Rich – Two Thirsty Gardeners
When potato blight strikes an allotment, it has a tendency to rifle through everyone’s potatoes leaving none spared. If that’s the situation you face, the Two Thirsty Gardeners, Nick and Rich, give you the information you need to limit the damage. They say the first thing is to: “Sever ALL plants at the base of the stem.” Next, be sure to bag up and dispose of all the foliage responsibly – check out the full article for details of how to do this, plus how to salvage what’s left of your crop.
Emma – The Unconventional Gardener
For a fascinating insight into potato history, freelance science writer Emma, aka The Unconventional Gardener, writes engagingly about one of history’s unsung heroes – Potato Pete. Not a real person, Pete was a cartoon character dreamed up by the Ministry for Food during WW2 to encourage the masses to grow and eat spuds. If you fancy a taste of nostalgia, Emma even has some wartime potato recipes on offer. As she says, “you can have a different, and delicious, potato dish for every meal of the day quite easily.”
Catherine – Growing Family
If you don’t have much space but you’d still like to eat delicious homegrown spuds, Catherine at Growing Family teaches you how to grow potatoes in bags. She says, “All you need is your seed potatoes, some compost and a bag. You can use any large, strong plastic bag to plant them in, for example, an empty compost bag. Bin bags are a bit too flimsy.” This is a great article for potato newbies and an excellent reminder for those who’ve grown them before but could do with a refresher.
Simon – The Garden of Eaden
If you’ve never experienced homegrown potatoes, then you’re in for a surprise, says Simon at The Garden of Eaden. He reckons that compared to shop-bought, “eating potatoes that actually taste of potatoes can be a bit of a revelation.” But not if blight or slugs destroy your crop before you get it to the table. With this in mind, Simon has come up with this excellent guide to the best slug and blight resistant potato varieties to grow to beat them both – a must read for all potato growers.
Pete – Real Men Sow
Potatoes may not be the most glamorous of veg to grow at your allotment, says Pete at Real Men Sow, but he reckons they’re “an excellent choice for the time-constrained allotmenteerist.” With this in mind, he offers his top six arguments in favour of growing potatoes, beginning with the fact that they’re low maintenance. As he says: “I very rarely water my potatoes once they’re planted, choosing to let the rain do that, and have never been disappointed with my crop.”
Alan – Down to Earth
If you’d like to be the earliest you can be with your first early potatoes, you’ll love this piece by Alan at Down to Earth. He says “An early start, chitting sprouts, right containers, right compost and a bit of warmth will get you on the right track.” Alan discusses the best varieties to go for too – he grows Pentland Javelin which he says has good flavour, as well as some old favourites including Maris Bard and Lady Christl.
Carol – The Sunday Gardener
The Sunday Gardener, Carol offers an excellent video explaining why you should earth up your potatoes and how to go about it. She says raising the level of the soil not only stops the growing tubers from turning green and inedible, but also offers some protection from the scourge of potato blight, should it strike. If you’re thinking of trying your hand at growing potatoes, do take the time to read Carol’s article – whether you’re growing in the ground or in containers, it offers practical advice on the best blight resistant varieties to try.
Would you like to know when to harvest your potatoes? Although first early, second early, and main crop potatoes mature at different rates, Huw Richards says the best way to tell when your spuds are fully grown is by watching out for the blossom. He says, depending on how big you like your potatoes to be, leave it a couple of weeks to a month after you spot the flowers before digging up your crop.
Tanya – Lovely Greens
Growing first early potatoes? Tanya at Lovely Greens says because these varieties don’t always produce flowers, a good way to tell if this crop is ready is to keep a lookout for falling flower buds and yellowing leaves. Of course, many first earlies do flower, which is a good indication that they’re ready to dig up. She says at this stage, “the potatoes from earlies will be about the size of an egg with skins so tender that they’ll melt in your mouth.” Do check out the rest of her article for more tips to help you spot the signs that later cropping potatoes are ready to harvest.
Andrew – Life On Pig Row
Using potato sacks to grow your spuds is a great option for people with bad backs, says Andrew at Life on Pig Row. There’s also the added advantage that you don’t lose any of your harvest from leaving it undiscovered in the soil. Growing this way makes earthing up easy too – just keep adding more soil as the plants grow and you’ll be rewarded with an excellent crop. Take a look at Andrew’s post for the low down on why green potatoes are poisonous and what indigenous people do to make their poisonous potatoes edible.
We hope you enjoyed our rundown of all the best potato-related blogs and YouTube videos, and that it helps you to grow your own delicious crops. If we’ve missed your favourite potato related content, do let us know. Just drop us a line via our Facebook page. Find more guidance on growing and choosing your potato varieties at our potato hub page.