Grow Your Own... Potatoes

Grow Your Own... Potatoes

Published: 25th February 2019

Grow Your Own… Potatoes

From earthy new potatoes and bite-sized salad varieties to fluffy bakers and roasters, the trusty humble potato remains the UK’s favourite vegetable.

Not only versatile, cooked potatoes with skin are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and vitamin C.

Potatoes are underground tubers that grow on the roots of a plant called Solanum tuberosum.

If you’re a potato aficionado, there are several exciting varieties you can try and grow at home, and luckily, they couldn’t be easier to grow! You don’t even need a vegetable garden or even much space – potatoes grow very well in bags placed on your balcony or even patio.

This method is also much less labour intensive as there’s no need for soil preparation or weeding. Plus, your crop will be less vulnerable to slugs and other soil-base pests. All you need to do is to top-up the compost from time to time and water regularly. Click here to view our compost items online.

In this blog we explain which type of potatoes work well to grow in a bag and which variety to choose.

‘First early’ and ‘Second early’ seed potatoes will give you a greater yield when growing potatoes from a bag, as they are smaller than maincrop varieties. Click here to see some of our available options online.

Planting Times

‘First Earlies’:

  • Plant: Mid to late March
  • Harvest: late May to July
  • Growing time: 10 – 12 weeks
  • Features: small and waxy – great boiled as new potatoes. They are fast and easy to grow, and if dug fresh from the ground, they taste so much better than shop brought ones.

Recommended varieties:

  • Red Duke of York – a good new potato and a good summer baked potato too.
  • Accord – a great tasting new potato with a firmer texture.
  • Swift – an early cropper, particularly good for growing in bags.

‘Second Earlies’:

Plant: late March to late April

  • Harvest: June to August
  • Growing time: 13 – 17 weeks
  • Features: small and waxy – great hot or cold in salads.

Recommended varieties:

  • Charlotte – a popular salad variety, good for steaming with a subtle chestnut flavour.
  • Nicola – a waxy variety with a good buttery taste, it has smooth skin and deep yellow flesh.
  • Maris Peer – can be boiled, steamed or roasted, and makes a tasty salad potato.

‘Maincrop’:

  • Plant: late March to late April
  • Harvest: late August to October
  • Growing time: 18 – 22 weeks
  • Features: larger – great for storing and fluffy roasties

Recommended varieties:

  • Pink Fir Apple
  • Desiree
  • Cara
  • Maris Piper
  • King Edward
  • Sarpo Mira

Time to Grow Your Own!

Chitting Potatoes:

Start your seed potatoes off from mid to late February with a process called ‘chitting’.

  • Place the seed potatoes in a tray or egg box with the end with the most dents or ‘eyes’ upwards. Keep in a light airy place inside until the shoots are 1” / 2.5cm long.
  • Plant into the bags from mid-March.

Planting Your Potatoes:

We have everything needed in store to grow your own delicious potatoes at home with no need for a garden:

  • Potatoes – £3.99
  • Taylors Potato Grow Bag – £2.99
  • Organic Potato & Veg Feed 1.5kg – £4.99
  • All-Purpose Compost – £3.99
  • Westland Growmore 1.5kg – £2.49
  • Vitax Q4 Traditional Formula Fertiliser 0.9kg – £3.99
  • Plenty of Watering Cans – various sizes

Method

  • For the best variety, add well-rotted compost or manure and include a specified potato fertiliser before planting. Ensure your potatoes are good quality.
  • When growing potatoes from a bag, choose a sunny site on your balcony or patio, ideally sheltered from the elements.
  • You will need 5 tubers per bag for first and second earlies and 4 for maincrop. Put 15 cm/6” of compost into the bag and mix in a small handful of granular feed.
  • Place the potatoes into this eye-end up.
  • As the plant grows up, add more compost, “earthing up” as it is called helps protect the foliage from late frosts and keeps light out, preventing “greening” of the potatoes. This process also increases yield.
  • Do this until the bag is almost full, being sure to leave enough room for watering. Keep an eye on the weather – if a frost is forecast cover the bag with fleece to protect the young shoots.
  • Water thoroughly (once or twice a week) as potatoes need a lot of water and do not respond well to drying out. However, ensure you aren’t drowning them as drainage is not the same in bags as it is in the ground.
  • Start harvesting when the first flowers open. Eat when fresh; early potatoes don’t store very well.

Storage

  • Early potatoes store for about 5 days in a cool, dry and dark position so harvest them when needed. They really do taste best when eaten fresh as they have that delicious melt-in-the-mouth taste.
  • However, if you can’t eat them straight away, leave them in the ground for longer than normal rather than harvest them. Many earlies and second earlies will easily keep in the ground for two weeks past their optimum harvest date. Their skins will tend to harden up and some of the ‘fresh from harvest’ taste will be lost, but it’s better than simply throwing them away!
  • Store potatoes in cool dark conditions but never in the fridge or freezer. The optimum temperature for storage is between 5’C to 8’C. Avoid exposing them to light – this turns them green and they may start to sprout.

So, if it’s February, now is the time to start chitting your first early potatoes and reap the rewards in only a couple of months!

Visit Scotsdales to get all you need to start growing potatoes from a bag. The process couldn’t be easier and we’re always on hand in store to answer any questions you may have.

How to find us

Great Shelford
Scotsdales Garden Centre, Cambridge Road, Great Shelford, Cambridge, CB22 5JT, United Kingdom
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Horningsea
Scotsdales Garden Centre, High Street, Horningsea, Cambridgeshire, CB25 9JG, United Kingdom
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Fordham
Scotsdales Garden Centre & Nursery Fordham, Market Street, Fordham, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5LQ, United Kingdom
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