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Know your potato types

We've been enjoying potatoes since the late 16th century when Spanish conquistadors brought them back from Peru.

There are three main types, named according to when you plant and harvest them: first earlies, second earlies and maincrop. Depending on where you live, you can plant potatoes as early as March (under fleece) and can be harvested from June onwards. It's a good idea to chit potatoes six weeks before planting them out.

If you think that one potato tastes like another, you're very much mistaken. Not only is there a wide variation in flavour and skin colour, but also in texture. Different textures suit different cooking methods and recipes.

Waxy potatoes stay firm when cooked and have a slightly sticky consistency. They're great for salads or simply steamed with a knob of butter. Steaming holds the flesh together far better than boiling and keeps the flavour intact.

Floury potatoes contain more starch and tend to crumble when cooked, making them perfect for hearty stews and for fluffy roast and jacket potatoes.

Learn about each of the three potato types, and how to grow them, below.


First early potatoes

First early potatoes

10-12 weeks to mature

Plant: March (with frost protection)
Harvest: June
Planting depth: 12cm
Distance between tubers: 30cm
Distance between rows: 60cm

Second early potatoes

Second early potatoes

14-16 weeks to mature

Plant: March (with frost protection)
Harvest: June
Planting depth: 12cm
Distance between tubers: 30cm
Distance between rows: 60cm

Maincrop potatoes

Maincrop potatoes

16-22 weeks to mature

Plant: mid to late April
Harvest: late July to September
Planting depth: 12cm
Distance between tubers: 40cm
Distance between rows: 75cm




Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: Know your potato types
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KEF 29/01/2014 at 17:12

For Poddington.
Sorry I can't find the thread about best tasting potatoes.

Chris 22 30/01/2014 at 21:29

I have just written on another forum, the variety called 'Jelly,', they are the best and tastiest I have ever had. We first had them from a well known  super market and last year  I looked them up only to learn that they weren't being produced for the open market... but today we have bought two bags of seed 'Jelly' potatoes from a large garden centre.. Yeh!!

Green Magpie 31/01/2014 at 12:04

It's partly a matter of personal taste - some people like floury potatoes, while some (like me) prefer them a bit waxy. Here is a good database for choosing potato varieties:  http://www.varieties.potato.org.uk/menu.php

OldCompostHeap 31/01/2014 at 12:53

Each year I have been searching for good tasting potatoes. So rather than growing one variety of first and second early and being dissappointed, I decided to grow three varieties of each.

This is because my local nursery sells most varieties loose at £1.40 per Kg. I have selected 12 tubers of Arran Pilot, Casablanca and Red Duke of York each for my trial with first earlies. I will do the same second earlies. I don't bother with main crop, as they are cheap locally. The cost was less than for a 2.5 Kg bag.

I have seen packaged varieties of 10 tubers for £2-3 elsewhere, so its a no brainer.