Harvested potatoes in wicker basket

Homegrown potatoes have a flavour unlike anything you can buy in a store
Image source: Potato ‘Picasso’ from Thompson & Morgan

In this masterclass, you’ll find some of the very best advice on choosing, planting and chitting your seed 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, Instagram accounts 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.

This article was reviewed by the T&M horticultural team and updated on 2 January 2024.

Choose potatoes for a low-maintenance allotment crop

Pink skinned potato in colander

Potato ‘Pink Fir Apple’ is a favourite crop at Real Men Sow
Image source: Potato ‘Pink Fir Apple’ from Thompson & Morgan

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.

Use a potato-selector to find the perfect variety

Potatoes in bowl with butter

Second early ‘Charlotte’ potatoes are a popular customer favourite
Image: Potato ‘Charlotte’ from Thompson & Morgan

Learn the difference between second earlies and second cropping potatoes with this jargon-busting potato selector guide from Sue Sanderson at T&M. Not only does she outline the four main types of potato along with planting and harvesting times, she drills down into specific varieties to help you find the perfect spud for your favourite recipe.

Chit early seed potatoes to give them a head start

Man showing red yellow potatoes

A great crop of potatoes!
Image: 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.

Start your first earlies off with a bit of warmth

Potatoes on ground next to garden fork

For the perfect waxy new potato, try Pentland Javelins
Image source: Potato ‘Pentland Javelin’ from Thompson & Morgan

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’.

Grow potatoes in large containers

Chitted potato ready for planting

Dan shows you how he plants his chitted potatoes in large containers
Image: 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.

Potatoes can be grown in sacks or bags

Potato planting in grow bag

If you don’t have much space, simply pop a few seed potatoes into bags on the patio
Image source: 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.

Try growing no-dig potatoes in the ground

Charles Dowding showing no dig planting potatoes

Charles demonstrates how the ‘no-dig’ method removes the need to dig trenches
Image source: Charles Dowding

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.

Check out a no-dig potato haul

Collection of potatoes images

A fantastic potato haul, even in a year that wasn’t great for growing
Image source: Green Lane Allotments

For years we planted potatoes the traditional way – the hard way,” says Sue from Green Lane Allotments. That was before she and her husband 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, they say, but their crop of potatoes looks pretty good!

Water potato plants at the base

Watering potato plants

Water potatoes at the base of the stems to help avoid potato blight
Image: Shutterstock

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.

Decide whether to remove potato plant flowers

Removing potato flowers

Matt Peskett removes flowers from his potato plants in a controlled experiment
Image: @growlikegrandad

Should you remove the flowers from your potato plants, or leave them be? That’s the question Matt Peskett from @growlikegrandad 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 head over to his blog where he’s published the full results of his experiment – and prepare to be surprised.

Discover how ‘Potato Pete’ helped the war effort

Freshly earthed up potatoes

This floury maincrop variety has a beautiful, old-fashioned, new potato flavour
Image: Potato ‘Sharpes Express’ from Thompson & Morgan

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 WWII 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.

Earth up potatoes to protect from blight

Pink cream potatoes in dark earth

Earthing up potatoes and choosing a blight resistant variety like ‘Cara’ helps with a healthy crop
Image: Potato ‘Cara’ from Thompson & Morgan

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.

Act quickly at the first signs of potato blight

Potato blight leaf closeup

Early potato blight is first sen on the plants’ leaves
Image Shutterstock

When trained horticulturist Katelyn from @inatinygarden noticed blight on some of her potatoes, it had already spread to all but one variety – the blight resistant ‘Sarpo Mira’ which she grows just in case. If that’s the situation you face, Katelyn says you need to cut all the foliage down to the ground as soon as possible. The potatoes under the ground may still be OK provided you act quickly enough. Watch her short potato video and follow her on Insta for more practical growing tips.

Opt for blight and pest resistant potato varieties

Potatoes being tipped from container onto ground

Potato ‘Valor’ is resistant to blight and eelworm
Image source: Potato ‘Valor’ from Thompson & Morgan

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.

Potato blossom helps you work out when to harvest

Potato flowers closeup

The blossom on a potato plant can help you work out the best time to harvest
Image source: Shutterstock

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.

Remember that some first earlies don’t flower

Harvesting potatoes in the garden

Harvesting healthy potatoes is a joyful event
Image source: 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.

Potato sacks make harvesting easier

Black potato bags with earthed up potatoes

Plant a single seed potato in an 8L bag to increase yields and protect a bad back
Image source: Black reusable potato growing bags from Thompson & Morgan

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 hub page.

Expert contributor list

  • Charles Dowding, No-dig gardening pioneer, horticulturalist, author.
  • Matt Peskett, Agritech Publisher & Digital Consultant. Allotment chair and RHS volunteer.
  • Dan Unsworth, Allotment holder, YouTuber, Giant Veg Show Exhibitor.
  • Tony O’Neill, Gardening content creator, author, YouTuber. Winner of Ezoic Publisher of the Year award 2021.
  • John Harrison, Allotment blogger, winner of Grow Your Own’s ‘Great British Growing Awards’ 2015, author and garden writer.
  • Sue Sanderson, BSc. (Hons) degree in horticulture, e-Commerce Horticultural Executive at Thompson & Morgan.
  • Sue Garrett, Allotment holder since the 1980s, garden blogger.
  • Katelyn, Horticultural Level 2 & 3 Certified, RSPB ambassador, gardening content creator.
  • Emma Doughty, Masters degree in Ethnobotany, gardening writer, podcaster.
  • Catherine Hughes, Freelance journalist and writer, author.
  • Simon Eade, Horticulture (Commercial), FdSc, garden writer and YouTuber.
  • Pete, Gardening blogger, new caretaker of the ‘Real Men Sow’ blog.
  • Alan Down, Garden writer, blogger, radio & TV, consultant. President of the Horticultural Trades Association.
  • Carol Bartlett, Gardening blogger and content creator.
  • Huw Richards, Gardening YouTuber, author.
  • Tanya Anderson, award winning author, teacher, and YouTube content creator.
  • Andrew Oldham, gardening blogger, columnist winner of GMG’s Gardening Columnist of the Year 2022.

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