Plant Of The Week! Seed Potatoes
Plant of The Week
- Potatoes are grown from specially prepared 'seed' potatoes (or tubers). These are just like potatoes you buy from the supermarket, but they're certified virus free. You can buy seed potatoes from late winter onwards. You then start them off indoors by letting them sprout before they are planted.
- Potatoes are hugely versatile and a staple ingredient of many meals in one form or another, boiled, mashed, roast or baked.
- There are three main types of potato to grow, named according
to when you plant and harvest them: first earlies, second earlies and maincrop.
First early – plant between February and March and harvest between May and July. They are often called new potatoes as they are ready to harvest before other varieties, around 9-14 after planting. Tasty and small potatoes.
Second earlies – plant between March and April and harvest July and August. Taking longer to grow than First Earlies so are ready to harvest around 14-17 weeks after planting. Yields are higher, and potatoes are bigger than First Earlies. Great for boiling and salads.
Maincrop – are planted between March and May and harvested between August and September to reach a full growth. They take a longer growing period and ready to harvest 17-20 weeks after planting. Produce high yields of large potatoes and can be stored through the Winter.
Salads – plant between March and May and harvest between June and September. Salads tend to be long, oval with a “waxy”
texture, which remains together when boiling, making it an ideal potato for salads.
- Potatoes are easy to grow – one seed potato will produce many potatoes to harvest. Prepare the soil by digging and removing any weeds, and then dig straight trenches 12cm deep and 60cm apart. In spring, plant seed potatoes 30cm apart and cover them with soil to fill the trench. When the shoots reach 20cm tall, use a rake or a hoe to mound soil up around the bases of the shoots, covering the stems half-way. This is called earthing up. First and second early potatoes can be grown in a large bag on a patio or balcony, covering them with compost as they grow.
- Never grow potatoes in the same soil year after year as this could lead to a build-up of pests and diseases. These include potato eelworm, which causes stunted growth and poor cropping.