Potatoes are quite literally the stuff of life. You can survive on solely potatoes for far longer than you can on any other foodstuff; they have a wealth of health benefits, plus, they are startlingly easy to grow! How do you grow potatoes? Let’s find out!
What You'll Learn Today
How Do You Grow Potatoes From A Potato
This is just about the most simple way to grow a potato! Potatoes actually grow from potatoes; from the little sprouting part that are called Chits.
You know when you forget about a bag of potatoes in the cupboard for a bit, and they go all wrinkly and start sprouting small white shoots? This is a potato ready to grow!
The best way to grow potatoes from potatoes, however, is to buy seed potatoes – these have been specially bred to produce good, reliable crops.
Seed potatoes will come with a few long, leggy shoots already attached to a small, wrinkled potato body.
All you need to do, once you spot these little shoots appearing, is prepare a space in your veggie patch (or prepare a large pot, bag or potato planter and fill it with compost).
How to grow potatoes:
- Prepare your ground by digging it over, removing any weeds and large stones, and breaking up the large chunks.
- Dig straight trenches, as long as you want your potato patch to be, 12cm deep and 60cm apart.
- Plant your seed potatoes in the bottom of the trenches, about 30cm apart. Cover them with soil and fill in the trench.
- When the shoots reach a height of around 20cm, mound soil up around them (this is called “earthing up”, and will prevent any potatoes near the surface from poking out through the soil.
- Potatoes don’t need much maintenance apart from this; just keep an eye out for weeds, and check the plants regularly for signs of blight and disease.
- After a minimum of 70 days, you can gently lift one plant to check the progress of your tubers. If they are the right sort of size then you can go ahead and lift the rest of the plants.
- If you feel they need a little longer then you CAN replant the one you have dug up to check, but it’s best to just eat them as small spuds.
This video is great for those new to planting potatoes, as it takes you through the whole process step by step, and shows how you can grow potatoes in containers:
Can I Grow Potatoes From Store Bought Potatoes
Yes, you CAN grow potatoes from store bought potatoes… But SHOULD you?
Even shop bought potatoes, if left long enough, will start to sprout chits and look as if they were longing for the freedom of some deep soil.
However, shop bought spuds are often hybridised, meaning that they won’t produce many potatoes, or those of a good quality.
You are far better off, and will get far better results, by buying some seed potatoes that are designed to planted and produce crops.
Seed potatoes are very easy to come by – simply have a wander around your local gardening shops in the late winter and early spring, to find your new favourite crop.
It may be slightly more expensive to buy your potato crop this way, and less convenient because you have to find a gardening store – but you will be rewarded by the best potato crop!
Another advantage to this is that you can choose what sort of potato you want to grow – from small, early ones, to the later harvesting baking varieties.
What Month Do You Plant Potatoes
Potatoes in the UK can be planted as early as March, as soon as the last frosts leave the ground starting to warm.
Because you plant potatoes relatively deep, they should be protected from the worst of the cold weather.
If you are going for early, or “new” potatoes, then you can start in March and harvest as early as June.
The bigger, floury, baking potatoes will take longer in the ground, but most of your spuds should be up by October, before the cold weather really sets in.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Potatoes
How long it takes to grow potatoes depends on what type you are planting, what results you a re looking for, and when you started your crops!
- Potato varieties vary – some are ready in as little as 70 days, others as long as 120 days.
- Early potatoes, planted in March or even April, can produce good “new” crops by June.
- Some of the later, slower to mature varieties, won’t be ready to harvest (even after a March planting) until the mid summer.
- The longer the potatoes’ growth, the bigger it will be and the more floury its texture. Depending on what type of potato you want, you should plant earlier or harvest later.
When To Harvest Potatoes
Again, harvesting potatoes depends on the type of potato you have planted, and what sort of potato you are after.
- As a rough guideline, you should wait to harvest your tubers until they are the size if hen’s eggs.
- You can gently dig under your plants with a fork to check on the size; just take care that you don’t stab one with the fork!
- If you are after a fail safe guide, wait until the foliage is all yellowed and wilted, then dig up beneath the leaves to find the treasure in the soil.
- When you have dug up your spuds, you should leave them to dry where you have dug them – or bring them home to dry where you want them to. This will prevent storage issues.
- Store your potatoes in a cool, dark place, for the best possible results.
Potatoes are a wonderful crop – super easy to grow, and pretty forgiving with regards to their conditions and soil requirements. Now that you know how to do it, get digging!