If you’ve ever compared the taste of freshly dug potatoes to the supermarket varieties, you’ll know that the latter just don’t have a patch on home-grown spuds.
Potatoes are EASY to grow, and can combine very well with greenhouse growing, so we thought we’d offer you a few tips to help with your current potato-growing activity or to get you started.
Seed potatoes will already be in the garden centres so plant early potatoes now and with a little extra care you can be harvesting them for most of the year.
If starting now, you will need to use bags, containers or the indoors – don’t plant in the open ground, as frost will harm them. Potato bags can be purchased and filled with compost (peat-free!) and stored in your greenhouse until the danger of frost has passed. Even in the summer they can fill extra space on balconies, patios and decking, leaving your garden free for other flowers and vegetables. For mature gardens, already full of plants, using bags or containers provides an additional growing area.
Due to the protected nature of potato bags, you’ll find that pests don’t get in as easily and that helps prevent disease.
Whilst you’ve missed the ‘second cropping’ phase which means planting in late August for fresh potatoes by Christmas, it’s time to be putting in those first potatoes of 2013 around the end of February. Plant at any time from then up until late May and you’ll have delicious new potatoes in as little as 10 weeks.
It will benefit the potatoes if you make time for ‘chitting’, which is allowing them to grow shoots in the open air before planting out. This brings them on so that they take less time to shoot and grow after planting. It should also lead to a more bountiful crop. Simply leave them sat in egg boxes or seed trays until the shoots are about an inch long.
Thompson and Morgan, the seed specialists, recommend planting in bags with 3 potatoes on a lower layer and another two on a layer above, giving plenty of room for growth below.
See more advice on growing potatoes at http://www.greenhousesensation.co.uk/advice/growing-potatoes