There are few things that work as hard as the humble potato – they can be mashed, boiled, served as a jacket potato.
Not to mention how they are used for everything from crisps and chips to vodka.
If you want to grow your own spuds this year, whether it’s a way of attempting to save some money amid the current cost of living or just doing something to be more sustainable and eco-conscious, when should you plant potatoes and how do you go about growing them?
Here’s all you need to know.
When to start planting potatoes this year
First, we need to understand what types of potato can be planted.
Potatoes are classified as being either earlies or maincrops.
Earlies are ready to harvest much sooner than maincrops and are what we might refer to as new potatoes. Maincrop varieties are in the ground a lot longer and produce a larger yield.
The best time to plant each crop of potatoes are:
- First earlies – mid to late March
- Second earlies – early to mid April
- Maincrops – mid to late April.
However, planting times vary across the country – planting in northern areas should be delayed by a couple of weeks, depending on temperatures and risk of frost.
In warmer regions it’s possible to plant a second batch of maincrop potatoes in late summer, which will yield a crop of delicious potatoes for Christmas.
How can you grow your own potatoes?
Grow your own potatoes from seed potatoes, which are small potato tubers rather than actual seeds.
You can buy seed potatoes from late winter from most horticultural retailers, like Dobies, Suttons and many more.
Sadly, you can’t just grow potatoes from old potatoes left in your bag or on the veg shelf at the supermarket, as they won’t produce reliable crops.
Before planting, you need to chit your potatoes – which involves letting the potatoes grow shoots, which will give you a bigger potato crop.
To chit a potato, you must place seed potatoes in trays or egg cartons with the end that has the most eyes facing upwards.
First appear at When is the best time to start planting potatoes in the UK?