How to plant potatoes – the best time to plant seed potatoes

This Morning: Carol Klein gives advice on growing potatoes

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Potatoes are a delicious and versatile crop, perfect mashed, fried, chipped or boiled. Eating potatoes is all the more exciting when you’ve grown them yourself. Read on to find out when and how to plant potatoes.

How to plant potatoes

To grow potatoes at home, gardening fans will need to get hold of some seed potatoes.

Seed potatoes are not like normal supermarket potatoes, as seed potatoes are virus-free and are therefore primed for growing purposes.

Seed potatoes can usually be bought from late winter and they may need to be chitted before they are planted.

This means the seed potatoes are left to grow shoots, which can increase the size of the crop.

You can pop the seed potatoes in trays or egg cartons and the end of the potato with the most eyes should be placed facing upwards.

The seed potatoes should be placed in a light and frost-free place in order to sprout shoots.

According to Gardeners’ World, it can take up to six weeks before the potatoes produce shoots between one to two centimetres long.

Once you have chit the potatoes, it’s time to think about how you will plant your potatoes.

To plant potatoes in the ground, Gardeners’ World explains: “When growing potatoes in the ground, plant earlies and salad types in March, 12cm deep and 30cm apart, with 60cm between rows.

“Plant maincrop potatoes later, in April. These need to stay in the ground longer and require more space to produce a decent crop.

“Plant them 12cm deep and 38cm apart, with 75cm between rows. Plant potatoes with the shoots (or ‘eyes’) facing upwards.”

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To grow potatoes properly, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) also explains on their website: “Potato plants need ‘earthing up’ as they grow, to protect early shoots from frost damage and ensure the developing potatoes aren’t exposed to light, which turns them green and poisonous.

“It’s a simple process – once the stems are about 23cm (9 inches) tall, draw soil up around them, creating a ridge about 15cm (6 inches) high. As the stems grow, repeat the process several times.

“The final height of the ridge should be 20–30cm (8 inches to one foot).

“Keep the plants well watered in dry weather – particularly once the tubers start to form.

“Maincrop potatoes benefit from a nitrogen-rich fertiliser around the time of the second earthing up.”

When potatoes are ready to harvest will depend on the type of potato being grown.

But most potatoes are available to harvest from May to October.

When should you plant potatoes?

Most of the first earlies should be planted around late March, according to the RHS, while second earlies should be planted from early to mid-April.

Maincrops should be planted from mid to late-April.

There are several different ways you can organise your potatoes while they are growing, so have a look online for some methods which might suit your garden.

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