How to get your biggest ever potato crop

How to get your biggest ever potato crop

Find out how to get your biggest ever crop of potatoes with the help of our expert tips.

Although a staple of the British diet, the potato is often overlooked by gardeners or treated as a ‘plant-and-forget’ crop, with correspondingly poor results. But by following a few simple steps, you can ensure you get a bumper harvest. There is a huge range of potatoes available, from iconic classics to unusual heritage varieties, and they can be grown in any size of garden. Freshly harvested, their flavour is second to none.

Confused about the different types of potato – first earlies, second earlies and maincrop? Then read our guide to potato types explained.

Although a staple of the British diet, the potato is often overlooked by gardeners or treated as a ‘plant-and-forget’ crop, with correspondingly poor results. But by following a few simple steps, you can ensure you get a bumper harvest. There is a huge range of potatoes available, from iconic classics to unusual heritage varieties, and they can be grown in any size of garden. Freshly harvested, their flavour is second to none.

Confused about the different types of potato – first earlies, second earlies and maincrop? Then read our guide to potato types explained.

For a great harvest, you’ll need the best site – ideally, an area that is sunny and sheltered from cold winds. Potatoes prefer slightly acidic soil, so avoid sites that have been recently limed, and water with rainwater; where possible, as tap water is often alkaline. If your soil is very alkaline, try growing in containers or raised beds. Don’t grow potatoes in the same spot every year, as this can lead to a build-up of pests and diseases. Opt for varieties that have been bred to resist problems such as potato blight.

Once you’ve chosen where to grow your potatoes, follow our six tips below for your best ever potato harvest.

By following a few simple steps, you can ensure you get a bumper harvest.
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You Will Need

  • Organic matter (e.g. well-rotted manure)
  • Chitted seed potatoes
  • Hoe
  • Watering can

Step 1

Prepare soil well in advance, ideally in autumn, so ground can settle. Dig deeply, remove weeds and large stones, and mix in plenty of organic matter. Add fertiliser before planting.

Adding organic matter to the soil
Adding organic matter to the soil

Step 2

Chitting or sprouting gives an earlier harvest and is particularly useful in cold or wet areas. Stand tubers on end in a cool, well-lit place, until the shoots have reached 2.5cm long.

Chitting potatoes
Chitting potatoes

Step 3

Start planting outside from February in warm areas to early April in cold ones. Plant 15cm deep; earlies 30cm apart with 45cm between rows; and maincrops 40cm and 75cm apart.

Planting potatoes
Planting potatoes

Step 4

Earth up regularly as shoots develop by pulling up soil around the stems to get a larger crop. Protect against frost and prevent exposure to light, which turns spuds green (and poisonous).

Earthing up potatoes
Earthing up potatoes

Step 5

Water thoroughly during dry spells. Water onto the soil rather than the foliage, to reduce the risk of disease. Apply nematodes, to protect against slugs, from late spring to summer.

Watering potatoes
Watering potatoes

 

Step 6

Harvest earlies from when flowers open; maincrops when large enough. Lift on a dry day and spread out for a few hours for the skins to harden, then store.

Harvesting potatoes
Harvesting potatoes
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Although a staple of the British diet, the potato is often overlooked by gardeners or treated as a ‘plant-and-forget’ crop, with correspondingly poor results. But by following a few simple steps, you can ensure you get a bumper harvest. There is a huge range of potatoes available, from iconic classics to unusual heritage varieties, and they can be grown in any size of garden. Freshly harvested, their flavour is second to none.

Confused about the different types of potato – first earlies, second earlies and maincrop? Then read our guide to potato types explained.

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