• Plant Perennials Now

Seed Potatoes

Nothing tastes as good as home grown potatoes and whether you like them small and soapy or big, round balls of flour, you will certainly find one to suit your taste. 

Early varieties of seed potatoes should be "chitted" in January and February before planting out, while Second Early and Main Crop varieties can be planted directly into the ground without chitting as they have a much longer growing season.

Chit them by laying the potatoes, with tiny sprouts facing upwards, on newspaper, in clean seed trays or old egg boxes, place on a windowsill or in a frost-free area in a light position but not in direct sunlight. In a few weeks, the shoots will start to grow, gaining strength while the soil is wams up sufficiently for them to be planted outside.

Rub off all but the four strongest sprouts and when they have grown to around an inch, chitting is completed. Don't plant them out until the end of March, though, as the shoots will take time to develop and the soil will still be on the cold side.

Plant tubers of seed potatoes around 15cm deep and 40cm apart in rows 60cm apart. Second earlies and maincrop potatoes should be planted 40cm apart allowing 75cm between rows.

When the plants start to flower is a good indication that the tubers are ready to harvest, although you could ease out some earlies by searching under the soil with your hand and pulling a few out, without pulling up the plant, which will continue growing. They should keep in a cool, airy shed in the dark, or the vegetable drawer of the fridge, for a week or more.

Second earlies can be lifted for storage later, but try to use them before you start on the maincrops. With maincrops, leave the plants to die down completely.They keep quite well in the soil but lift them before the ground becomes really wet or else they are likely to rot. Dry out maincrops in a dark shed for a couple of days before storing them in hessian or paper sacks, until required.