First year growing potatoes? Here is what our readers think you need to know to get started
09th April 2020
Potatoes can be enjoyed in myriad ways in the kitchen; when it comes to versatility, it really doesn’t get much better than the humble spud. So if you’re looking for a crop that offers high productivity in return for your efforts, than look no further than potatoes.
But before you can enjoy the fun activity of unearthing your summer bounty, you’ve got to get to grips with growing them. ‘First-earlies’, ‘maincrops’, ‘chitting’, ‘earthing up’ – there are lots of terms and processes that you may have heard of to do with potato growing, but that you’re still not quite sure on, so we asked our readers to share their top nuggets of advice to help if it’s your first year growing this staple veg.
Here’s what they advised:
Sarah Richardson says: “I have hard clay soil in my allotment, so I grow my potatoes in sacks. I use normal multi-purpose compost (mixed with sieved soil to make it go a bit further). Fill to a third full, 2 or 3 potatoes per sack; then cover. As the shoots show, cover with more compost/soil until full. Harvesting is easier this way and I can control the watering too. This will also work for small back gardens; my mum does this and she has a ‘postage stamp’ garden.”
@allotment_28 says: “Pay attention to the spacing guidance on the packaging… you’ll end up with more (better) potatoes from less plants than if you were to just squeeze that extra one or two into a small space. Particularly when growing in containers.”
Judith Harris says: “You don’t need space or fancy (and pricey!) pots to grow pots! I’ve grown them in recycled chicken manure/ fertiliser containers for years and get a good crop. Pierce holes in the bottom with a kitchen skewer and put 2 seed pots in each.”
Mark Willis says: “If growing spuds in containers, group them close together for mutual support, or perhaps provide a frame, to support the foliage. Upright foliage keeps growing longer than floppy foliage!”
Joshua Tutt says: “Don’t worry about earthing up, don’t worry about chitting. For first-time growers just put a few potatoes in a deep bucket/bin of multipurpose compost and you’ll be away. Easy! (Same in the ground)”
@littleone_8 says: “Potatoes are really good at helping break up the soil! So, I always put my potatoes in the rockier soil where delicate seedlings would struggle.”
@pwpicks says: “I grow in hessian sacks, start with a shallow layer of soil then earth up as they start to grow. I usually grow Charlottes and have a decent crop.”
Rosie Lindy Robertson says: “I always sink either a pot or a pop bottle cut in half next to my spuds when planting so they are easy to water and the water isn’t wasted as it goes straight to the roots where it’s needed.”
Alan Dutton says: “My 1st earlies, Red Duke of York went in last week, my 2nd’s go in this week they are Kestrel and Jazzy, finally my main crop in 2 weeks time, they are Sarpo Mira and Cara. I grow in containers, have done for a couple of years now, you can grow spuds in almost anything from a bucket to a bath.”
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