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The three types of potato to grow

There are three main types of potato to grow, named according to when you plant and harvest them: first earlies, second earlies and maincrop.

The first early potatoes are so-called because they are the earliest to crop, in June. Second earlies are hot on their heels, taking a few more weeks to mature. These two types of 'new' potatoes are expensive in the shops and taste much better when they have just been harvested, so many people choose to grow these. They are also less prone to blight, as they are generally harvested before the disease has taken hold.

Maincrop potatoes take the longest to mature and are harvested from the end of July to September. They are suitable for baking, roasting and mashing, and can be stored for a few months.

Growing potatoes is easy and fun - plant one seed potato, and you dig up lots of potatoes a few months later, like buried treasure. Potatoes can be grown in the ground, or - if you're short on space - in pots and bags.

Depending on where you live, you can plant potatoes as early as March (under fleece) and harvest them from June onwards. It's a good idea to chit potatoes six weeks before planting them out.

Find out when and how to plant the three potato types, 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

Discover some first early potato varieties.

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

Discover second early potato varieties.

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

Discover some maincrop potato varieties.




Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: The three types of potato to grow
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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.