How to grow potatoes – for tasty spuds you’ll like

You don't need much space, skill, time or money to grow delicious spuds, so why not give it a go?

Once you’ve discovered the intense flavour of home-grown spuds and experienced the deep satisfaction of digging up your own crop, you’ll never look back.

Unlike some other vegetables, potatoes are very low maintenance once you’ve planted them. So for spuds you like (!), follow our tips on how to grow potatoes.

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How to grow potatoes – the kit you’ll need

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  • Seed potato tubers
  • Soil and compost
  • Trowel or spade
  • Large bucket, old compost sack, or gro-bag
  • Fork or potato harvesting scoop
  • Egg boxes
  • Paper bags or hessian sack
  • Scrubbing brush

How much space do I need to grow potatoes?

If you don’t have a garden, you can grow them in a compact gro-sack (H45cm x diameter 30cm), £7.95 for three, Marshalls, on a patio or balcony.

In fact, a pile of tyres, a large bucket or an old compost sack (with drainage holes) will do the job adequately – you simply need a sturdy container that’s at least 30cm deep and 30cm in diameter.

What type of potatoes should I grow?

You can’t buy supermarket potatoes – you need to buy special seed potatoes from a garden centre or an online supplier. Each seed potato tuber you plant will send out lots of side shoots, which all swell and become individual potatoes.

Ideally, plant at least three different types of seed potato. First early crop, second early crop and main crop, so you have potatoes throughout summer season.

Try Winston (a first early), which works well boiled or steamed. Charlotte (a second early) is a flavour-packed, pale-yellow variety that’s ideal steamed and used in salads, while Desiree (a main crop) is a versatile potato with red skin and delicious waxy yellow flesh.

When should I plant potatoes?

Work back from when you want to harvest them. First earlies can be planted from late February to late May and crop in about 10 weeks. Plant second earlies from March to late May – they will crop after around 13 weeks.

Main crop potatoes can be planted from March to mid May, and will crop about 20 weeks later.

How to plant potatoes

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About four to six weeks before planting, you should place your seed potatoes on trays (cardboard egg boxes are ideal) and leave them to ‘chit’, or grow little side shoots. Do this indoors somewhere light and cool and free of frost.

If you’re going to grow your potatoes in a vegetable patch, they’ll need a sunny spot. Start by digging a 10cm-deep trench, then plant your seed potatoes with the shoots pointing upwards, about 30cm apart, in rows that are around 60cm apart.

When the shoots reach 20cm, mound up the soil around them, leaving just a few cms showing. Repeat this three weeks later.

How to grow potatoes in a bag or bucket

If you’re growing in potato bags or containers, fill to just below the top with good-quality compost. Next, place a single chitted potato tuber in the compost, shoots pointing upwards, at a depth of 12cm. keep your plants well watered.

Read: How to make compost – feed your garden for free

How to harvest potatoes

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When the leaves of your plants begin to turn yellow and die back, your potatoes are ready to harvest. Use a garden fork to lift the earth beneath the plant gently, then sieve the soil with your hands or potato scoop to gather the potatoes, taking care not to damage them.

Brush off any loose soil and, for main crop potatoes, leave them to dry in the sun for a few hours. The next step is to  store them in a dark paper or hessian sack somewhere cool and dry, until you need them.

New potatoes (first and second earlies) can be rinsed clean and taken straight from pot to plot for cooking.

How to cook potatoes

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New potatoes are delicious steamed with a few sprigs of fresh mint. Remove the mint before serving and stir through a knob of fresh butter and a handful of chopped chives or parsley.

For perfect mashed potatoes, mash with salted butter, milk and freshly ground black pepper. Then stir through 1tbsp wholegrain mustard and a handful of grated Cheddar cheese.

However you choose to serve them, they’ll taste all the more delicious because your grew them with your own fair hands.

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