Growing Potatoes

Growing PotatoesGrowing potatoes has always been popular.  They have traditionally been grown direct in the soil, but in recent years people have started growing potatoes in potato bags, sacks and old waterbutts.  There are three types of potato, earlies (100 -110 days from planting to lifting), second earlies (110 – 120 days) and maincrops (125 – 140 days).  Earlies and second earlies are the smaller potatoes we call “new potatoes”.  Maincrop potatoes are the large tubers, which can be stored for use during the winter.  If you have young children or grandchildren, then growing potatoes is a must!  It’s like a treasure hunt to young children who are always excited to see vegetables magically appearing from the ground.

How to Grow Potatoes – QUICKSTART GUIDE
  • Vegetable Growing Calendar - PotatoesChit (or sprout) seed potatoes from February
  • Place them in egg boxes or on trays, rose end uppermost in a light frost-free position
  • Plant out March to April
  • Plant earlies 30cm (12in) apart, rows 40cm (16in) apart
  • Plant maincrops 38cm (15in) apart, rows 75cm (30in) apart
  • Planting potatoes (growing potatoes from potatoes)Earth up when the plants are about 23cm (9in) tall.  Leave about 10cm (4in) of green growth showing
  • Lift earlies when the plant starts flowering.  Leave maincrops to bulk up until August or September
  • Do not eat green potatoes, they are poisonous


Potato Varieties


Early Potatoes

Potato VarietiesRocket – almost round tubers, heavy cropping, quickly grows baby new potatoes, suitable for containers and potato bags
Foremost – very good flavour, waxy texture, round tubers, white flesh, RHS Award of Garden Merit
Anya – nutty flavour, long tubers, excellent salad potato

Second Early Potatoes

Charlotte – excellent flavour, waxy,  yellow skinned, great salad potato, RHS Award of Garden Merit
Maris Peer – good flavour, waxy, heavy cropping, white fleshed
Vivaldi – excellent taste and texture, high yields, lower in carbohydrates and calories

Maincrop Potatoes

Cara – heavy cropping, large round tubers, excellent disease resistance
Desiree – red skinned, good flavour, very versatile
Valor – large tubers, store well, excellent disease resistance


Earlies or Maincrop

If I had to offer one piece of advice about growing potatoes, it would be to concentrate on earlies and second earlies and only grow maincrop potatoes if you’ve got lots of space.  This may induce an intake of breath, as maincrop potato growing is popular.  The reason I recommend this approach is that maincrop potatoes take up a lot of space, are relatively cheap from the shops (especially if you buy a sack) and when stored, there will be less difference between the ones you grow and buy compared to other vegetables.  Maincrop potatoes are also much more susceptible to blight which can decimate your entire potato crop.  New potatoes, in contrast, are expensive in the shops and the ones you grow, because you can go from patch to pot so quickly, will also taste vastly superior. They also have a far far greater chance of avoiding the dreaded blight!


1. Growing Potatoes – QUICKSTART GUIDE
2. Chitting Potatoes – How to chit your seed potatoes for a great start
3. Planting Potatoes – How to plant, care for, and earth up your potatoes
4. Harvesting and Storing Potatoes – When to harvest your potatoes and how to store them
5. Potato Growing Tips – Tips to help you grow lubbly jubbly potatoes
6. Potato Blight, Pests and Problems – Help is at hand if your potatoes go wrong
Back to main Growing Vegetables page

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