How To Grow Your Own Potatoes

How To Grow Your Own Potatoes

Growing potatoes in your own back garden may seem like a complex process, but with all the right tools and knowledge it’ll be a breeze! Here are a few simple steps to follow to grow the perfect spuds.

Before planting your potatoes into the ground, they first need to start indoors. It is particularly important, especially with Earlies, that you ‘chit’ the potatoes. This means allowing them to sprout shoots before they are planted.

To allow this, simply stand them rose end up (the end with the smallest dents, or eyes) in compostable pots or trays, in a place in your home where there is plenty of light and not prone to frost. You may want to label them if you’re growing different varieties.  Once the shoots measure about 3cm (1in) they will be ready to plant. If you’re planting early potatoes, you will need to rub off the weakest shoots, this should leave you with around 4 shoots per potato.

When to plant your potatoes varies depending on what type of potato you are growing...

Don't Forget The Fertiliser

When planting your seeds there are a few factors you need to consider; Potatoes need a sunny site and can be sensitive to frost so it’s best to avoid shady areas that can get too cold as this may damage your crop in April/May. 

The traditional planting method for potatoes is to dig a narrow trench about 12cm (5in) deep, keeping plenty of spacing for the tubers, this spacing varies with each type of potato 

Earlies – 30m (1ft) spacing, with rows 60cm (2ft) apart
Maincrops – 37cm (15in) spacing, with rows 75cm (30in) apart.

For optimal growth, it's best to apply a general-purpose fertiliser at this stage.

Shop Veg Fertiliser >

Planters and Polythene

If you don’t fancy digging up your garden or you’re short on lawn space, there are other ways to plant your potatoes: 

Large deep planters are ideal for growing small crops of potatoes. Simply fill the bottom of the planter with around 6 inches of potting compost and plant just one seed potato just under the surface. As new stems start to grow and break out of the soil, keep adding compost until the container is full. 

Black polythene sheets are also an option for growing potatoes. Again, there’s no need to dig earth up, simply plant the tubers through the slits in the polythene and new potatoes form just under the surface.

Shop Planters >

Fight the frost

When growing your potato plants, they need ‘earthing up’. This will protect early shoots from any damage from frost and ensure that the potatoes aren’t exposed to light, which can cause them to turn green and poisonous.  

The earthing up process is quite simple, once the stems are about 23cm (9in) tall, draw the soil up and around them, creating a ridge about 15cm (6in) high. As the stems grow, repeat the process several times. The final height of the ridge should be 20-30cm (8in-1ft).

Shop Cloches and Tunnels >

Similar to when planting, harvesting potatoes will depend on the type you are growing. First early potatoes should be ready to lift in June and July 

Second Earlies in July and August

Main crops from late August through to October

With maincrops, you will need to wait for the foliage to first turn yellow, at this point, cut the foliage down and remove it. Here’s the important bit: you will need to wait 10 days before harvesting the potatoes. They can then be left to dry for a few hours before being stored in a preserving bag.