Jacket potatoes, baked in their skins, are perfect for simple, comforting lunches or suppers. Homegrown spuds are much more flavoursome than shop-bought, and they’re easy to grow. Plus, if you grow your own, you can grow them organically.
Read our guide to growing potatoes.
A crispy skin is one of the best things about a jacket potato, but it’s also where you’ll find most of the chemicals in non-organic potatoes. So it’s doubly worth growing organically if you’re planning to eat the skin.
Two factors combine to make the best jacket potatoes. Firstly, the right variety – choose a second early or maincrop variety.
Potato types explained
And secondly, good growing. Here’s how to grow the best possible jacket potato.
Buy the best
Buy certified seed potatoes from a reputable source. Chit the tubers indoors to begin sprouting.
Placing seed potatoes in a tray with most eyes facing upright to sprout – chitting
Site your potatoes in full sun and add plenty of organic matter to the soil before planting. Plant in early or mid-April, 15cm deep. Space 38cm apart, with 75cm between rows, as you’ll need lots of earth for earthing up.
Planting seed potatoes 38cm apart in a row dug 15cm deep alongside a plank of wood
Earth up as shoots develop by pulling soil up around the stems every week or two. Cover with fleece if late frosts threaten. Water during dry spells, directly onto the soil, as watering onto the foliage can spread disease.
Raking earth up around the stems of a young potato plant
Harvest second earlies in late summer, maincrops in autumn. Lift earlies when the plants are still flowering – feel around underneath the plant to check the size of the tubers. Cut the tops off, then gently prise the plants out of the ground with a fork. Dig up the potatoes as you need them. Leave maincrops in the ground until the leaves turn yellow and die down. Dig them up on a dry day and cut off the tops. Discarding any damaged tubers. Main crop potatoes store well in a cool, frost-free place.
Harvesting maincrop potatoes
How to bake a potato
Dry thoroughly after washing, and prick them all over. Rub the skin with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Cook at 190°C for between 1 hour and 45 minutes and two hours.