The right way to chit seed potatoes ready for a summer harvest
I have a several sorts of early potatoes from Thompson & Morgan (www.thompson-morgan.com), the Suffolk-based seed company that have been supplying the nation’s gardens since 1855.
They include first earlies Vales Emerald (great for salads), Casablanca (good boilers), Lady Christi (firm), Swift (fast growing) and Rocket (disease resistant), plus second earlies Gemson (outstanding flavour) and Athlete (launched for the 2012 Olympic Games).
Strictly speaking, my first earlies must have been planted in late February, and my second earlies have to go in now – but both could be planted any time up until May so there’s little need to get stressed.
And there’s no point in planting potatoes in waterlogged, cold, soil because they are going to just rot away.
The good thing about planting once possible, though, is that first earlies only take 10 weeks to be ready for harvest – when British new potatoes are eye-wateringly expensive in supermarkets – and second earlies only take 13 weeks.
There also are early maincrop and maincrop potatoes, which take 15 and 20 weeks respectively to be capable of harvest, and the benefit of growing both earlies and maincrop is that you would be able to be digging up delicious home-grown offerings from May until October
Chitting your seed potatoes is easy: you simply place them in seed trays or carefully saved egg cartons, with the roses – or pinpricks of buds – on the top.
Keep them in a dry, frost-free place with numerous sunlight in order that the buds start sprouting, and when these are a few half an inch or an inch long (about 2cm) it’s time to plant them out – preferably before the seed potatoes get too wrinkly.
You can either dig a trench and plant each potato, with its shoots pointing up, about six inches deep (15cm); otherwise you can dig individual holes with a trowel, or simply push a large dibber into the soil to make a hole (i take advantage of the handle from a broken spade so I don’t need to bend down an excessive amount of).
If you’re planting several rows, ensure there’s in any case two spade’s breadth between each row, because once the potatoes begin to grow it is advisable to earth up – in other words cover the shoots with soil to give protection to them from frost.
Using the soil between the rows helps to create neat ridges, and you’ll walk at the ground in between.
Of course, that’s just the manner I do it.
Many people grow them in special growing bags, that’s an ideal way to do it in case you don’t have much space, click play above to observe a video from Thompson & Morgan on tips to do exactly that