Potatoes are a staple in most allotments or veg plots, fresh new potatoes taste delicious straight from the garden with maincrop potatoes providing a good storage crop over the winter months.
The main method of planting potatoes hasn’t changed for decades, the simple method of planting potatoes in well prepared ground and hilled up is the most reliable (and easy!) method of growing potatoes.
In this article you’ll learn a few tips that will make planting easier and improve your crop.
If growing space in the garden is an issue then you may consider growing your potatoes in containers. Container grown potatoes can give huge crops but do require extra compost and regular watering that isn’t needed in the ground. You can see our “container potato guide” here.
Choosing Your Potatoes
When it comes to choosing which potatoes to grow, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, there are three categories of potatoes: first early, second early and maincrop. Their difference lies in when to plant them and how long until they can be harvested.
If you have a small garden or want to grow them in containers, then first earlies are ideal, as they are smaller and they are harvested early for immediate consumption which means they are less likely to be affected by diseases or pests.
Second early and maincrop can be left in the ground for longer and will grow bigger. And they are grown for storing throughout winter.
Once you have chosen the appropriate category for your garden, you can look at varieties. Different varieties lend themselves to different cooking methods. Broadly speaking, potatoes are either floury or waxy.
Potatoes with waxy flesh hold their shape better, so are ideal for salads or for boiled potatoes. If you love chips or roast potatoes, then floury potatoes are the best choice.
My favourite potato variety for chips is ‘Red Duke of York’, a first early variety. This red skinned potato makes the greatest chips ever, in my opinion.
- WHEN TO PLANT: Plant between February to May and Harvests between May to October.An excellent choice of potato because of its versatility for all cooking purposes. They are the world’s most popular red potato. This kind of cultivation is relaxed and stress-free for both gardening experts and beginners – PLEASE READ FULL PRODUCT DESCRIPTION BEFORE PURCHASE
- HOW TO PLANT: Simply plant the tubers 10cm deep and 30cm apart and wait for tasty potatoes to grow in your kitchen garden. SOIL REQUIREMENTS: Potatoes can be grown in virtually all soil types-Moist well drained soil is ideal. SUN- LIGHT REQUIRMENTS: Choose a sunny position with as little shade as possible and is free from frost pockets
- CONTENTS: 10 x Potato Desiree Tubers. Size: 35/45
For salad and boiling, I would recommend ‘Charlotte’, a second early variety. This potato has a great flavour and makes my mum’s potato salad recipe even better.
- WHEN TO PLANT: Plant between January to May and Harvests between April to August. Charlotte is now the most popular salad potato in the UK. This kind of cultivation is relaxed and stress-free for both gardening experts and beginners – PLEASE READ FULL PRODUCT DESCRIPTION BEFORE PURCHASE
- HOW TO PLANT: Simply plant the tubers 10cm deep and 30cm apart and wait for tasty potatoes to grow in your kitchen garden. SOIL REQUIREMENTS: Potatoes can be grown in virtually all soil types-Moist well drained soil is ideal- Acid, Alkaline, Chalky, Clay, Fertile, Neutral, Sandy. SUN- LIGHT REQUIRMENTS: Choose a sunny position with as little shade as possible and is free from frost pockets
- CONTENTS: 10 x Seed Potatoes Charlotte. Size: 30/45
My favourite potato from maincrop varieties is Sarpo Mira. It’s a floury potato which stores very well and provides us with potatoes through winter.
- main-crop variety reputed to be the most blight resistant available in the UK
- developed over several generations by a family in Hungary
- produces heavy yields of tasty, floury tubers suitable for roasting, chipping or baking
Getting Started Chitting Potatoes
As soon as you buy your potatoes it’s essential to remove them from their bag, especially if it’s plastic rather than a net bag. Potatoes need to breathe and ideally be separated to prevent any rot of the potatoes that have been stored over winter.
Place the potatoes in a container such as an egg tray that can be used to chit the potatoes
This tray should be kept somewhere with indirect sunlight, frost free and where no damp will get to them. A windowsill is usually a good place. Allowing the seed potatoes to be left in such a manor is called “chitting” and will encourage strong shoots to grow on the potatoes that will ensure a good start when they are planted outdoors.
Chitting has been proven to increase the yields of potatoes. Faster growth and larger crops are the result of good quality seed potatoes and early chitting.
Preparing The Soil
The best spot for potato plants is a sunny patch with fertile, well drained soil. Frost is the arch enemy of young potato plants, so avoid planting them in a location that is prone to late frosts.
Potatoes do best in slightly acidic soil, so if your soil is more alkaline, you might want to acidify your soil by adding material such as sulphur. If you are not sure what soil pH level you have in your garden, then you get a DIY soil pH test kit to find out.
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- 【Convenient Operation】: The first step is to use one tablespoon put 8 level tablespoons (4 ounces) of soil sample into a clean cup and mix it with 8 level tablespoons (4 ounces) of water for 30 seconds. The second step, let the soil water solution stand for 30 minutes until stratification occurs. The third step is to dip a PH test strip into the solution, keep the soil test strip in the solution for 3 seconds, and match the color plate with the color table after 1 minute.
You can buy Sulphur Pallets, which you can mix with the soil to decrease the pH level.
- Important trace element gives ericaceous plants the ideal soil base for healthy growth
- Will gradually reduce the pH of your soil
While the potatoes are chitting early in the season you can begin the process of preparing the bed for planting. Although you can get a good crop of spuds from almost any soil – prepared or unprepared – the extra effort of digging and adding manure is worth it.
Digging the bed is the first step, removing any large stones and weeds as you go. In years gone by double digging was often done in the autumn for potatoes but risks bringing poor quality subsoil to the surface (as well as being a whole lot of extra work!). Ideally this digging should be done in January when a good strong frost will kill any weed seeds that come to the soils surface.
Potatoes really do well in soil that has had a good layer of rotted manure dug into the soil. A builders bucket full of manure per square metre is plenty to give a HUGE crop of potatoes. If rotted manure isn’t accessible this can be replaced with compost or if necessary pelleted chicken manure.
Finally, it’s also worth remembering that potatoes should be grown as part of a crop rotation and shouldn’t be grown in the same area more than once every three years. Diseases such as potato scab are much more of a problem if correct rotation isn’t adopted.
Planting Potatoes In The Ground
When you buy your seed potatoes, the seller normally provides you with the best time to plant them. Generally, you plant first earlies from late March, second earlies are planted from early to mid-April and maincrops from mid- to late April.
If you want to get ahead, you can plant them two weeks earlier and cover them under horticultural fleece or under cloches to protect the young plants from frost.
- Provide enhanced frost protection for tender plants and shrubs and also protect early potatoes
- Protects down to -5/6ºC
- Also an effective and economical greenhouse insulation without condensation
- Ideal for over-wintering of herbaceous border plants
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Remove the fleece or cloches a week after the last frost.
Common Planting Method
Potato planting time varies depending on the variety chosen; first early potatoes should be planted from early March, second earlies from late March and maincrop varieties from early April. These planting times make sure the soil is warm enough to ensure a good start.
Dig a trench in the growing bed at least 4 inches (10cm) deep. To prepare the trench for planting a sprinkling of blood, fish and bone can be spread in the trench at this point in poor soils and a layer of newspaper can be laid to hold extra moisture.
The seed potatoes can now be placed in the trench with the shoots pointing upwards.
First earlies are best planted 12 inches (30cm) apart with second earlies and maincrop 16 inches (40cm) apart. The rows should always be at least 24 inches (60cm) apart.
Cover the trench over and give the whole area a light watering if no rain is expected within the next 5 days.
Alternative Planting Method
You can also grow potatoes under black polythene, where you lay out a black polythene sheet over the soil where you want to plant your potatoes.
- Strong hard wearing 100% recycled polythene sheeting.
- The sheeting is UV treated keeping it lasting longer.
- Multiple uses from in the garden, for DIY projects, in the house, and many other uses.
Prepare the soil as described above, mixing in blood, fish and bone in any case. Because you will find it difficult to feed your plants under the sheet.
Water the ground and then fix the sheet by burying the edges in the soil, to avoid it flying away in the wind. If you live in a windy area, put down some heavy stones as well to keep the sheet in place.
Then cut crosses (about 6 inches or 15 cm long) in the sheet, through which you plant your tubers. Make sure you leave enough space between them as indicated above.
Make some holes in the plastic sheet so that any water can drain away. You don’t want standing water on the plastic sheets, as such puddles are ideal nesting ground for some insects.
Advantages of this planting method is that you don’t need to earth up your plants. Harvesting is also easier, as you don’t have to dig your potatoes out. Just cut off the stems, roll back the sheet and pick up the potatoes.
Disadvantages of this method is that slugs like the warm soil that the back sheet creates, so your tubers are more likely to be damaged by them. It’s also not environmentally friendly and doesn’t look too nice either.
Potato Aftercare & Harvesting
As the potatoes come up it’s important to keep covering the shoots up, this is called “earthing up” or hilling the potatoes. A mound is created over the growing stems which protects them from frost but stops potatoes growing near the surface turning green from sun exposure.
This earthing up process should continue until all frost has passed.
Weeding is important in the first 4-6 weeks of growth to prevent established weeds taking over the potatoes. After six weeks very little weeding is required.
In dry weather, you need to keep your potato plants well waters, especially once the tubers have started to form. But don’t overwater them, as this could cause the tubers to rot and you will lose your crops.
To increase your yield, feed your potato plants after you have stopped earthing up. I use Envii Seafeed Xtra, which is an organic fertiliser and works brilliantly.
- Organic liquid multipurpose fertilizer
- Promotes strong growth, increased crop yields and lush foliage
- Contains a high concentration of seaweed, known for its unique anti-stress compounds
Potatoes can be harvested at any size, small new potatoes very early in the season taste delicious but it’s worthwhile later in the season to allow them to grow to their full size for storage. Before harvesting an entire plant you can dig with a trowel or your hand around the surface of the plant which should uncover some potatoes and give you an idea of their size.
Harvesting times are as follows:
- First Earlies – 10 Weeks
- Second Earlies – 13 Weeks
- Maincrop – 18 Weeks
Did you know that you can also grow potatoes for your Christmas dinner? Find out more by reading our Christmas Potato Growing Guide.
Diseases and pests affecting potato plants
While potatoes are easy to grow, they can be affected by a variety of diseases and pests. The main disease is blight and the main pest is the slug.
Diseases affecting potatoes
Blight is a fungal disease that affects many plants, and potatoes are no exception. It thrives in warm and humid weather and occurs especially in late summer. In warmer regions, such as the south of the UK it can occur as early as June though.
This is an airborne disease that spreads its spores through the wind, but can also get into the soil and affect the tubers.
The tell-tale signs that your potato plants are affected are dark brown marks on the leaves, which will start to curl and eventually die. As the disease progresses it will spread to the stems and you might find white fungal growth on the underside of the leaves. Eventually, the plant will die.
Blight cannot be cured, so once a plant is affected, it will die. However, there are some things you can do to avoid your plants being affected by blight:
- Practice crop rotation. The blight spores can overwinter in the soil, so it is important that you don’t plant your potatoes in the same spot every year. The recommended rotation cycle for potatoes is four years, so only plant them in the same spot once in four years. The same type of blight that affects potatoes also affects tomatoes, so include them in your crop rotation plan.
- Plant your potatoes in a breezy spot and give the plants enough room to allow for good air circulation. This will ensure that the leaves dry off quickly after rain and thereby decrease the risk of a blight infection.
- When you water your plants, water them from below rather than from above. You want to avoid the foliage to get wet.
- First earlies varieties are more likely to avoid being struck by blight, as they are harvested before the disease is most active. You can find out when blight is most active with the help of Blightwatch, a website that monitors blight and can even send you alerts when blight is coming to your area.
- If you notice any signs of blight, remove the affected leaves immediately, this can slow down the progress of the disease, but won’t stop it. Once the stems become affected, cut off the foliage at the stem close to the soil and remove and plant debris. Make sure you destroy the affected plant material, for example by burning. Do not compost it. Leave the tubers in the soil for about two weeks until the skin has hardened, then harvest. Use tubers from blight infected plants as soon as possible and avoid storing them.
- If you use your potatoes as seed potatoes, do not use any seed potatoes of plants that showed signs of blight, as they might be infected and grow an infected plant.
- You can also buy blight resistant varieties. However, the genetic make-up of the blight fungus changes constantly, which means varieties that were classed as blight resistant might not be resistant anymore. You can find out which potatoes have resistance to blight on the British Potato Variety Database.
Another type of disease that can affect potatoes is potato scab. There are different types which can be fungal or bacterial diseases. The main two types that affect potatoes are common scab, which also affects other root vegetables, and powdery scab.
You can only see signs of an infection on the tubers themselves, so only when you come to harvest your potatoes will you know that they have been infected by scabs.
Common scab shows rough, scabby patches on the skin, while powdery scab manifests itself as irregular brown raised areas or dents.
Common scab occurs in dry soil when the tubers form, while powdery scab thrives in wet soil. So it is important to keep your potatoes well watered, while not over watering and drenching the soil. If you grow your potatoes in containers, make sure they have enough drainage holes.
Although potato tubers infected by scabs don’t look very nice, they are still edible, just peel or cut away any scabby bits.
Scabs can’t be treated, but there are things you can do to minimise the risk of the disease affecting your potatoes:
- If you use your own potatoes as seed potatoes, don’t select any from potatoes that had a scab infection.
- Keep your potatoes watered in dry weather, especially in the time when the tubers are forming. You can add organic matter to the soil, which will help with water retention as well as adding nutrients for the plants. But don’t water the plants in wet weather as this can create favourable conditions for powdery scab.
- The common scab is more likely to occur in alkaline soil, so if your DYI Soil pH test has shown your soil is alkaline, look into options to acidify your soil, such as sulphur pallets.
- There are some varieties that have shown resistance to scabs, such as ‘Kind Edward’. To find up-to date information about resistant varieties, visit the British Potato Variety Database.
Potato black leg, is a bacterial disease that can affect potatoes and which can be active as early as June. An infected plant will have stunted stems and pale green or yellow leaves, which curl up or inwards. The stems close to the soil will be brown or black. The tubers in the ground will have rotten flesh.
There is no cure for potato black leg, so once your plant is infected, remove and destroy it, don’t compost. And also make sure to remove and destroy any tubers still in the soil.
Potato black leg infections normally start in the seed potato, so make sure you buy your seed potatoes from a reliable seller. And there are some other things you can do to minimise the risk of this disease affecting your potatoes:
- If you save your own seed potatoes, never save any from an infected plant. And store healthy ones in dry conditions to minimise the chance of bacteria growth.
- If you use containers, make sure they have drainage holes to allow excess water to drain away, because this disease thrives in warm, damp conditions.
- Harvest your potatoes in dry weather.
- If you spot any signs of a potato black leg infection, remove the infected plant and destroy it, do not compost it. Make sure you remove all the potatoes from the soil as well and destroy them too. Even if the tubers look alright, they will have the bacteria in them.
- Practice crop rotation, only plant potatoes in the same spot once every 3-4 years to avoid a build up of the bacteria in the soil. If you grow in containers, don’t reuse the soil for for potatoes.
- There are varieties that show some resistance, such as Charlotte or Pixie. But be aware that bacteria change genetically all the time, so these might not be resistant for years to come. To find out what varieties are resistant to which pest or disease you can check the British Potato Variety Database.
Pests affecting potatoes
Potato eelworms are wormlike animals, also called nematodes, that feed on the roots of potatoes. By doing so they take out nutrients from the plant which can damage the plant’s health and crops.
Poor growth and chlorosis (yellowing and wilting leaves due to the lack of chlorophyll) are signs of an eelworm infestation. To be sure, lift the plant out carefully and if an infestation is present you should see tiny round objects clinging to the roots.
These are the bodies of dead females and they carry hundreds of eggs and can be white, yellow or chestnut brown. Use a magnifying glass if you are not sure.
A heavy infestation can kill the plants and cause the tubers to rot. To minimise the risk of eelworms destroying your hard work, follow these steps:
- I know I am repeating myself, but practice crop rotation. This will keep the numbers of eelworm down and which will minimise the effect on your plants and crop. fIf you grow in containers, don’t reuse the soil for growing plants.
- Harvest your tubers as soon as they are ready.
- After harvesting, make sure you get rid of all potatoes in the soil because the eggs can survive in the tubers. The eggs can survive in the soil for up to 10 years, so turn over your soil to expose them for predators to eat. If you are growing in containers, destroy the soil from infected plants, don’t compost it.
- Varieties such as Maris Piper are thought to have some resistance to eelworms. To be sure, check the British Potato Varieties Database.
Cutworms are the caterpillars of some moth species that feed on tubers in summer. They are greyish-brown, pale green or creamy-white. You will find them in the top few centimetre of soil, where they can cause damage to developing plants, roots and tubers.
If your plant shows sudden signs of wilting, you might find cutworms in the soil of the affected plant. You can take these steps to minimise the risk of cutworms destroying your crop:
- Remove any caterpillars you see and place them in an area of your garden where they cannot do any harm.
- Encourage its natural predators into your garden, such as birds, ladybirds, wasps and the ground beetle.
- Adult moths like to lay their eggs in areas where there is dense vegetation cover. They also like areas that have been dug up, for example to make a vegetable plot.
- Cultivate your soil in autumn after harvesting to expose the cutworms and other insects to predators.
- Keep your soil well watered, as young cutworms are vulnerable to rain or irrigation.
- Keep on top or your weeding, as cutworms might use weeds as alternative hosts to survive.
- You can also cover your potato plants with netting to prevent the moths from laying their eggs on your plants.
I would recommend this garden netting as it works well to keep pests away.
- Agralan M571 Enviromesh Standard
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Wireworms are the larvae of the click beetle, which feeds on roots. Only three species are known to damage garden plants though.
They are thin yellow-brown larvae with three pairs of small legs on the head end. You won’t see any signs of them above ground, but they tunnel into potatoes leaving holes with black edges.
Affected potatoes can still be eaten, just cut off the affected parts.
Wireworms occur most likely in areas which have turned from grass to vegetable bed. A small number of wireworms won’t impact your crops but there are some things you can do to minimise the risk:
- Soil cultivation after harvest will help to reduce the number of wireworms in the soil. Turn over the soil to expose the larvae to predators. Beds that have been converted from grassy areas should become pest free within two years of cultivation, as adult click beetles prefer to lay their eggs in grassy areas.
- By encouraging natural predators, you can also reduce their number. Natural predators to wireworms are birds, wasps, hedgehogs and ground beetles.
- If you spot any larvae, remove them from the soil and place them in an area where they can’t do any harm.
- The most foolproof way to avoid wireworms eating into your potatoes is by growing them in containers.
Slugs are a common problem in vegetable gardens and they like most plants. Some slugs love potatoes.
They usually start eating tubers in August into autumn. They tunnel their way into the potatoes to eat the flesh. A heavy slug infestation can hollow out whole potatoes.
There is not much you can do to keep slugs out of your garden, but you can take some steps to minimise the risk to your potatoes:
- Harvest your potatoes before August before the slugs become a problem for your tubers
- Lift maincrop potatoes as soon as they have matured if you have a slug problem
- Cultivate the soil after harvest to expose the slugs to their predators
- Grow your potatoes in containers, where slugs are unlikely to be a problem for the tubers
Frequently Asked Questions
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Find out more about growing potatoes in our FAQ section.
Do I have to chit my seed potatoes before planting?
There is a debate going on amongst gardeners whether seed potatoes have to be chitted – pre sprouted – before planting or not. And the jury is still out.
From the research I have done, I would say that while it is not necessary to chit your seed potatoes before planting, doing so will give them a head start and giving you a slightly better harvest.
Especially first and second early varieties seem to do a lot better when chitted before planting. And maincrop varieties do also benefit from it to a degree.
I always chit my seed potatoes. It’s very simple, pop them into an empty egg carton and put it on the windowsill. After about two to four weeks sprouts will appear from the ‘eyes’ (the area where they were attached to the roots when they grew). When the sprouts are about 2.5 cm or 1 inch long, you can plant them.
Can I grow potatoes from shop bought potatoes?
The short answer is yes. Seed potatoes are nothing but smaller potatoes, so any potato can be used to grow your own.
However, there are some things to keep in mind. The production of seed potatoes is regulated to ensure they are disease and pest free. Ware potatoes (eating potatoes) don’t fall under the same regulations, so could be infected with diseases, while still being safe to be consumed.
Ware potatoes also tend to be too big for growing and the potatoes you buy in the supermarket tend to be treated with certain chemicals to prevent them from sprouting, which means they will be useless for growing.
I did use ware potatoes before, when my seed potatoes sprouted prematurely and got all tangled up in the yute bag they were stored in and broke.
I chose the smallest in the bag and they chitted ok. There was no issue with diseases, but I did grow them in containers to avoid spreading any disease or pests in the garden, just in case.
The crop size was not bad, not as big as I got with commercially bought seed potatoes though. I couldn’t choose the variety, but then again, I didn’t spend any extra money, so nothing lost really.
So if you are out of seed potatoes, but have some shop bought potatoes in your cupboard, then why not give it a go!
How do I know my potatoes are ready to harvest?
The instructions on your seed potatoes will give you an indication on when to plant and when to harvest your potatoes. Generally, the following harvest schedule applies:
- First earlies: June and July
- Second earlies: July and August
- Maincrops: late August to October
If you want baby ‘new’ potatoes, mostly earlies, wait until the plant starts to flower, then you can the potatoes in the top layers. Leave the ones further down for two weeks longer.
For maincrops, wait until the plants have stopped flowering and the leaves turn yellow and died down. Cut off the foliage at the stems and leave the tubers in the soil for a few days to allow the skin to harden.
If you are unsure, you can always carefully dig down and check the size of the potatoes. If the ones in the top layer are still very small, they will need longer.
How often do I have to water my potato plants?
Potatoes have a high water content, so they need to be watered well in dry weather, especially once the tubers have started to form.
When it doesn’t rain much, I water my potatoes daily. If you are not sure if they need it or not, just check the soil. If the top is still damp, they won’t need watering, but if it’s dry they do.
If you grow your potatoes in containers, make sure you have enough drainage holes for excess water to drain away.
I water my plants in the evening, to prevent the soil from drying out too quickly in the sun.
Do I need to feed my potato plants?
Feeding your vegetable plants is always a good idea, as it increases your yield.
After you have finished hilling, feed your plants with an all purpose feed to encourage good foliage growth. I like to use organic feed and this seaweed fertiliser works brilliantly.
- Organic liquid multipurpose fertilizer
- Promotes strong growth, increased crop yields and lush foliage
- Contains a high concentration of seaweed, known for its unique anti-stress compounds
If you also want to help your tubers along a bit more, you can add high potash feed once the tubers are forming (when the plant starts flowering). This can increase the size of the potatoes.
- Fertiliser formula no.4 800 gram box
- Use:dissolve 2 level measures of crystals in 5 litres (approx.1 gallon) of water and apply to your plants every 7 to 10 days
Can I have a constant supply of potatoes?
Yes you can, is the short answer. All you need is good planning and space (indoors over winter).
The normal planting cycle for potatoes starts in March when you start chitting your potatoes and then plant them out in April. You will have your first harvest about 12 weeks later.
If you want to harvest potatoes weekly, you will need to plant a new batch every week. Depending on how many potatoes you want to harvest, you can plant 1- 2 seed potatoes per batch. On average you get about 10 – 15 tubers from one seed potato, depending on growing conditions.
Normally the cycle ends in July/August when you harvest maincrop varieties. But instead of finishing, you can continue to plant new potatoes. But you will need to get cold-stored potato tubers, which have been held back from late winter the previous year.
Potatoes do not sprout immediately, but will stay dormant for a long period, so you will need to buy specialist seed potatoes that will produce tubers in late summer.
Your first batch after the cycle normally finishes, should be ready before the first frost, so can be left outside. But any of the ones planted later, you might want to move inside, in a heated greenhouse, a conservatory or a bright porch, as the likelihood of frost increases.
The key to successfully growing potatoes over winter is to keep them free from frost.
Keep your plants well watered, ensuring your pots have good drainage. Feed your plants regularly too as they will need it over winter. As the sun gets weaker, you might want to help your plants by providing grow lights.
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I would recommend growing your potatoes in containers, as they will take up less space and it will also reduce the risk of pests and diseases.
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So while it is possible to grow potatoes all year round, they will need a lot of care over the autumn and winter months. Alternatively, you can grow a bigger final batch that is harvested in August and store them. This can give you homegrown potatoes into winter.
How do I best store my potatoes?
Maincrops and second early varieties are best for storing, first earlies are better eaten fresh. But you can store any potatoes if you don’t need them immediately. First earlies store for a few weeks, second earlies and maincrops for months.
Potatoes are best stored in dry, dark and cool conditions and you have some options what to do with potatoes that you don’t consume straight after harvesting.
You can simply leave any potatoes you don’t need in the ground. First earlies can be left for about two weeks after their harvest date, second earlies for about two months and maincrops varieties for up to four months. This is a simple option if you have too many to eat immediately.
However, leaving potatoes in the ground for storage can make them vulnerable to attacks from pests such as eelworm or slugs, as well as diseases.
Another option, is to keep them in a basket, such as a wicker basket, in a cool dry space, such as a cellar. Make sure there is enough ventilation to keep the potatoes dry. This can keep them for a few months. But keep checking on them to make sure they don’t start rotting.
Finally, you can rebury them. Either in used compost or sand. Make sure the compost and or sand is dry as moisture can cause the tubers to rot.
I like to use wooden crates, as they work well and look nice. Start with a layer of compost or sand, then place your potatoes on top in a single layer. Top up with compost or sand and repeat until you have buried all your potatoes.
Place the crate in a dry, cool place, such as a cellar, shed or cool conservatory. Make sure you don’t store in such a cold place that frost can occur. You should be able to store your potatoes in that way for several months.
Check on your stored potatoes regularly and throw away any that show signs of deteriorating. Rot can spread, so if you don’t remove any that started rotting, soon all of them will rot and your hard work will have been in vain.
To ensure the potatoes can be stored as long as possible, they have to be in good storing conditions. Here are some tips that will help store them for longer:
- Lift potatoes you want to store in dry weather
- Leave them in the sun for a day or two (or on a table inside if it’s raining). This will harden the skin, which will make them more suitable for storage
- Don’t wash the potatoes if you want to store them
- Only store potatoes that are in good condition. Any damaged ones are better eaten immediately
- The optimal storage temperature for potatoes is between 5°C and 8°C
- Check on your potatoes regularly and remove any damaged ones. You should be able to smell if any tubers started to rot.