Second early potatoes are harvested from mid-July, a couple of weeks after first earlies. Many of them are good ‘salad potatoes’, as they don’t disintegrate on cooking and work well in hot or cold salads. But some are good all-rounders, too, suitable for baking, mashing, frying and roasting.
Find out all you need to know about growing potatoes in our potato Grow Guide.
Second earlies are expensive to buy in the shops and taste better when they have just been harvested, so they’re popular potatoes to grow on the veg plot or allotment.
They don’t take up much room and are less prone to potato blight, as they are generally harvested before the disease has taken hold. If you don’t want to use them all at once, leave them in the ground for a few weeks until you’re ready to eat them.
Here are some of the best second earlies to grow.
‘Charlotte’ is a popular variety, often on sale in supermarkets. It produces lots of long, large, smooth tubers with a waxy texture and very good flavour. Like ‘Vivaldi’, it’s a good all-rounder that can be cooked in many different ways. As well as being a favourite salad potato, ‘Charlotte’ tubers also make great small jacket potatoes.
‘Vivaldi’ has pale yellow flesh, an excellent flavour and velvety texture. It’s a brilliant all-rounder, so a good choice if you only want to grow one variety – it came out as our top potato for baking in a recent trial, but it’s also great for mashing and good as a boiled potato.
‘Maris Peer’ is a popular cultivar that produces lots of creamy yellow fleshed tubers with a good flavour. They are especially good boiled – they won’t lose their shape – and make excellent potato salad but can also be boiled, mashed, roasted or fried. It also has good disease resistance.
‘Kestrel’ has white flesh, splashed with violet. It is a popular variety for exhibiting. It is resistant to pests such as eelworm and slugs and blackleg and is great for boiling, frying, mashing and roasting.
Delicious ‘Ratte’ is very popular in France. It produces lots of small, long, smooth-skinned potatoes with yellow, waxy flesh and a nutty, chestnut flavour. Steam in their skins and eat hot or cold in salads, or mash.
‘Lady Balfour’ is a relatively new, high yielding variety has tasty, creamy flesh and pink flashes on the skin. It’s great for boiling and roasting. It’s resistant to blight and scab and is a good choice for poor soils.
‘Jazzy’ is a new variety that produces lots of small tubers. It has an excellent flavour and a waxy texture. It’s a very good salad potato but can also be mashed or roasted.
How to grow second early potatoes
- Plant the chitted tubers in early to mid-April – they will be ready to harvest in around three months.
- Plant in rows 60cm apart, at a depth of around 10cm, with at least 30cm between them. Incorporate plenty of garden compost or well-rotted manure when planting.
- When the plants have reached 10cm tall, earth them up regularly and keep well watered. Second earlies can be grown in the ground, in containers or large bags.