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GROWING POTATOES

The stages involved in growing potatoes are:

1. Select the correct varieties of potato.

2. Chit or sprout the seed potatoes

3. Plant the potatoes out.

4. Earth up your potatoes.

5. Weeding, feeding and watering them.

6. Harvest and store your potatoes.

7. Cook them and eat them!


First of all, get the timing correct for growing potatoes. If you start your potatoes off too early they will suffer from damp and cold soil. Starting them off too late is not such a problem but your potatoes will mature later than you want. The key to growing potatoes is to start them off at the correct time of year.

One thing is absolutely certain, the dates for growing potatoes on the South Coast of the UK are quite different from many cooler Northern areas. Any book or website which does not take this into account is unlikely to provide you with the correct dates.

To get round this problem of timing we provide a feature on this website which allows you to adjust all the dates automatically depending on the climate in your area. Click here (or top right of all pages in this website) and spend 20 seconds to adjust every date on this site to be correct for you climate. If you don't adjust the dates they will be assumed to be average for the UK.

Now we know your climate, we can time the various potato growing tasks correctly for your area. Simply click on any subject area at the bottom of this page to be taken to a page which will explain in clear and simple language what you need to do and when you need to do it. All gardening terms (e.g. chitting) will be fully explained with lots of pictures to help you on your way.

Before you do that though, we provide you with a quick guide to growing potatoes throughout the gardening year. It's very simple to understand and of course is accurate for your area if you have used our gardening date adjuster.

POTATO GROWING CALENDAR FOR THE AVERAGE UK AREA

Start chitting /sprouting your potatoes in the third week of February 2017

Plant out your sprouted potatoes in the fourth week of March 2017

Fortnightly nitrogen feed (e.g. Growmore) from the second week of May 2017 to the fourth week of June 2017

Fortnightly potash feed (e.g. tomato fertiliser) from the second week of June 2017 to early August 2017

Earth up your potatoes when the foliage is about 10cm / 4in above ground

Water as needed if the weather is very dry.

Mantis Composters

COMMENTS / QUESTIONS LEFT BY OUR READERS

Date: 26 April 2017 From: Denis B
QUESTION: Potters Bar Good Morning. My potatoe foliage has had some slight frost damage - Are they likely to recover please? Thanks

ANSWER: Yes, it will almost certainly recover if the damage is slight. Note that tonight there may also be a frost in the Potters Bar area so I suggest that you cover any exposed growth. Almost anything will do, I'm using straw with some garden canes laid on it just to hold it down a bit. You can earth up now just to cover the growth above ground. Horticultural fleece will also do the job although that will need to be bought.

Date: 20 February 2017 From: Demi
QUESTION: Is it true that the best way to get big, baking potatoes is to remove the number of 'chits' to two per tuber?

ANSWER: That is part of the solution to growing larger potatoes. We have created a page dedicated to  growing larger potatoes and it can be found here.

Date: 09 February 2017 From: Kurt N
QUESTION: I had a large amount of well manured horse poo spread in my garden. I wonder whether this is good or too rich for spud growing. Is wood ash a good idea to neutralize the soil, advice appriciated.

ANSWER: When you write "well manured" is that what you mean or do you mean "well rotted".
If it's well rotted than that will be fine to work into soil for potatoes. If it's not well rotted, I would not add it yet. Leave it to rot down and work into the soil in autumn.
Potatoes prefer a slightly acidic soil, neutral is fine as well. Wood ash will reduce the acidity of soil turning it more lime. So unless you know that the soil is acidic I would't add it to ground which will grow potatoes.

Date: 21 January 2017 From: Mary M
QUESTION: I am going to grow my potatoes in a special potatoe sack. I am using a large bag of compost, can I mix in some soil, would that be a good idea?

ANSWER: I wouldn't mix in any soil unless it's sterilised. In the garden, it's obviously fine, but putting it into a container risks infection.

Date: 4 June 2015 From: Not Given
QUESTION: Hi there, can i start planting potatoes this month, June, in pots, and if so, which types? There's a set on Amazon now for £20 with Charlotte, Swift and Desiree included. I've grown potatoes before (store bought) but never started this late.

ANSWER: Yes you can plant your potatoes in June, in fact up to early August. The only limiting factor is how long they take to reach maturity and produce a decent sized spud. I would recommend any early and second early varieties which take your fancy. Charlotte and Swift are early / second earlies. Desiree can be treated as a second early or a maincrop so that should be OK as well.

Date: 9 March 2015 From: Not Given
QUESTION: I grow my potatoes in pots. Instead of earthing up can i fill my pots to the top. Will this have any adverse effects on the yield?

ANSWER: Without knowing the height of your pots its a bit difficult to answer. However, the reason for earthing up potatoes will probably answer your question. The key point is that potato plants tend to produce potatoes at the same level and higher as the original seed potato was planted. As you earth up a container the potato plant will produce more potatoes from the newly covered part of the stem thus maximising the yield. So, not earthing up will in all probability reduce the yield.

Date: 27 February 2015 From: Andy
QUESTION: The soil temp is now 7c can i plant early potatoes now as it will take a few weeks before they show and the frost should then have finished?

ANSWER: Potatoes take three to four weeks to appear above the soil surface if planted to the correct depth. So, you are assuming that you will have no frosts from the end of March onwards? If that is the case then yes, 7C is just about OK for planting potato sets. Anything below that temperature and they are unlikely to start into growth and may rot.