You can’t beat growing your own produce at home. You know you are going to be eating fresh and wholesome food free from any additives and chemicals. When growing seed potatoes, there are plenty of great-tasting and easy-to-grow options available. In this guide, we explore the best seed potatoes to grow and guide you through the growing process.
What are seed potatoes?
Seed potatoes are certified disease-free potatoes carefully selected and stored in the right conditions (cool and dark), ready for you then to grow at home. Seed potatoes have not been treated with chemicals (inhibitors) used in grocery stores that limit sprouting.
Seed certification is undertaken by The Seed Potato Classification Scheme (SPCS) administered on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). The explanatory guide to potato classification provides further detail.
You can buy seed potatoes from late winter onwards.
Where to plant seed potatoes?
Everyone can grow potatoes, even if you live in a flat with a small balcony. You can grow potatoes easily straight in the ground, or if you are struggling for room, they can be cultivated in bags and containers. “Ideally, you want to plant your potatoes in a sunny spot and be sure to keep them away from frost” says Chris Bonnett, gardening expert for the Express.
One important consideration is that you should not grow potatoes for consecutive years in the same location. To reduce the chance of your produce becoming diseased, find a new location each year and only return to an area after three years.
When to plant seed potatoes
The timing of planting will affect when you will get your harvest. Plant according to the following:
- First earlies – plant around late March
- Second earlies – plant around early-mid April
- Maincrop – plant around mid-late April.
Early potatoes or ‘new’ potatoes can be harvested in June and July with second earlies from July onwards. Maincrop potatoes can be harvested from August to October.
How to plant seed potatoes
Seed potatoes are started indoors and encouraged to spout; this is known as chitting.
How to chit potatoes
Stand your seed potatoes in trays upright with the rose end up. The rose end is the one with the most small eyes or dents. Place the trays in a light frost-free location for two-four weeks.
Planting seed potatoes in the ground
Typically potatoes will not grow until the soil temperature is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit whilst any seed potatoes in the cold, soggy ground can rot.
Plant your seed potatoes in trenches that have been dug 12 to 20cm deep. Space the potatoes (tubers) 30cm apart for earlies and 40cm for maincrops. Trenches should be 60cm apart for earlies and 75cm for main crops.
Planting seed potatoes too deep can cause them to rot before sprouting. The deeper potato tubers are planted, the more area there is for tuber production and the better the yield. To this end, once the stems are 20cm tall, you need to ‘earth up’ or ‘hill up’, which involves drawing soil up around them. Seed potatoes exposed to light can turn green and become poisonous so keep earthing them up.
Keep on top of watering your potatoes; they must not be allowed to dry out
Growing seed potatoes in pots and containers
Each seed potato requires about 12 litres of potting soil to grow in, so choose a decent size pot or a specialist potato grow bag.
Line the bottom of the container with at least 10-15cm of compost before positioning your tuber. Cover the tuber with a layer of compost and water well.
Keep earthing up the growing stems as they grow.
Potatoes grown in pots are prone to drying out, so keep on top of watering.
- First earlies – harvest in June and July, waiting until flowers have opened or the buds have dropped.
- Second earlies – harvest in July and August
- Main crop – harvest from August through October.
How to store maincrop potatoes
Once the foliage has turned yellow, it should be cut down. Wait two weeks, then lift the tubers and allow them to dry in the sun before storage.
Store tubers in paper or hessian sacks in a cool, dark, dry location.
What are the best seed potatoes to buy?
Gardening Express carefully selects and sells a range of seed potatoes which you can buy here
Cutting seed potatoes (optional)
To increase your yield of potatoes, you can cut larger potatoes in half before planting.
How to cut seed potatoes
Three days before planting, cut your large potatoes in half using a sharp, clean knife. Allow the potato pieces to sit at room temperature, allowing them to callous over.
Gardening Express provides these guides for information purposes only. Gardeners should do their research before buying plants and garden-related products.
Why not check out our other Grow Your Own articles, including the How to Grow Raspberries at Home: Succulent and Simple and The Ultimate Guide to Growing Strawberries at Home – All You Need to Know