We are only in February but I’m sitting here with the boat windows open on to the canal and sunny blue skies – it’s gorgeous!
Nearly every year since I started Life at No.27 as a blog in 2015, I have written a piece specifically about potatoes. Sharing my seed potato choices, celebrating potato day and sharing my top tips for planting for spuds!
Well this year, I must keep with tradition so here we go, although it’s going to be slightly different as I haven’t actually bought my seed potatoes yet! I need to pop to Yarnton Home and Garden, just up the road and see which wonderful varieties they have to choose from. In previous years, I have tried Charlotte, Purple Majesty, Blue Danube, Sarpo Mira, Lady Cristl and Annabelle varieties, always trying to pick new ones each year.
Potato Growing Guide
Potatoes are very easy to grow, especially in containers! Planting them direct in the ground within your garden or allotment, may give you more potatoes but they can take up lots of space.
For those new to GYO, the sprouts you get on potatoes when you haven’t used them quick enough are called eyes. It is these growths which then start to grow into the potato plants when planted in the soil. Ever since I have started growing my own food, I have always prepared my potatoes first and encouraged them to chit before planting.
What does chit and chitting mean? Basically it helps the potatoes grow the eyes and strong sprouts, so that when they go in the ground, they are off to a flying start.
All you have to do is place your bought seed potatoes in to an old egg carton or tray, with the eyes facing upwards. Then place them on a cool and light windowsill. They will look like the image below and then grow really strong sprouts. You can see the difference to if you just left them in a dark cupboard, which would make the sprouts all spindly and white.
When they look like the image on the right, which will take a 4 – 6 weeks roughly, they are ready for planting! So, roughly April time depending of if you have chosen, early, main or late varieties. You don’t have to chit your potatoes, but if you have space inside, I definitely recommend you give it a go. Or perhaps test both methods in different containers or rows and see if there is a difference in the quality and quantity of your harvest.
How to plant:
- Fill 1/3 of a potato grow bag with compost
- You can plant 3 – 4 seed potatoes per bag
- Place them on top of the soil with the eyes pointing upwards
- Cover the potatoes with compost
- As new growth emerges through the top of the compost, add more compost and keep covering the growth until you are near the top of the bag
- Potatoes love lots of watering and also a fortnightly feed.
- You can go hunting for your potatoes as soon as the flowers die back and the leaves turn brown.
Growing potatoes in the ground is simple too, just dig a hole at least 15cm deep and place in 1 potato with the eyes facing upwards. Do the same for the rest of your potatoes then cover them all over with soil.
As the new growth emerges, cover them up with more soil so you create a mound. Once you have a mound 8-10 cm high, you can stop and just keep watering your plants! Do you know why we gradually add the compost over the new leafy growth and don’t fill them up straight away? As it helps grow more potatoes!
TIP: Do not eat the leaves and stems, they are poisonous. Raw potatoes will also make you very poorly, so always cook them before eating.