How to Grow Seed Potatoes

How to Grow Seed Potatoes

Growing your own potatoes fresh from the garden is extremely satisfying. They’re easy to grow and provide a very cost effective way of growing. By following a few easy steps, you too can produce fresh tasty crops, straight from your garden. Seed potatoes are broken down into 3 categories:

  • First Early – First early or new potatoes are the earliest to crop in June & July.
  • Second Early – Take a few more weeks to mature and are harvested in July & August.
  • Main Crop – Take the longest to mature and are harvested in August to October.

When to Plant

First early potatoes can be planted from mid-March, while second earlies should be planted a couple of weeks later. Maincrop potatoes are usually planted in April and need to stay in the ground longer to produce a good crop.

How to Plant

Once you’ve decided on your variety of potato, and purchased from your local branch of Thompson’s, the first thing you need to do is ‘chit’ your potatoes. This basically means letting your potatoes grow shoots before you put them in the ground. Place your seed potatoes in a cool, light spot for a few weeks or until you see shoots that are 1-2cm long.

Whilst you’re waiting for your potatoes to shoot you will need to prepare the soil by digging over and removing any weeds. We recommend digging in a good quality manure to the soil or a multipurpose compost to help enrich it and give your potatoes a good quality soil to grow in. Choose an open sunny spot in your garden.

Dig straight trenches 12cm deep and 60cm apart. Once your potatoes have produced shoots from the ’chit’ process, plant them in the trenches 30cm apart, with the shoots facing upwards and cover with soil to fill the trench.

You will need to water your potatoes regularly, especially if the weather is warm, or we have a prolonged dry spell. You will also need to keep the soil weed free.

Wait for the shoots to grow, once they get to around 20cm tall, form a mound up around the base of the shoot, covering the stems to around half way. This is a process called earthing up, and helps to encourage your potatoes to grow more, whilst stopping the tubers becoming green and inedible. As plants continue to grow you will need to earth them up again.


How to Harvest

First early potatoes are harvested in June and July. Gently feel around in the soil and look for potatoes around the size of a large egg. Using a garden fork, gently prise the soil around the plant to unearth the potatoes. First early potatoes don’t store for long, so make sure you only dig them up when you want to eat them.

Second earlies are harvested in July and August. Follow the same process of harvesting as the first earlies, gently digging them up as and when you want to eat them. They also don’t store for that long.

Maincrop potatoes are harvested from August to October. Look for the leaves on the plants to turn yellow and start to die down and then gently dig over the soil again to unearth the potatoes. Maincrop potatoes will store for many months in a dark, cool, frost free place. Hessian bags, or thick paper sacks are a great place to store, checking regularly to remove any rotten ones.

Top Tips

  • Water regularly
  • Keep the soil weed free
  • Earth up the soil as they grow
  • Protect against pests
  • Don’t grow in the same soil as previous years


Recommended varieties

  • First Early – Aaran Pilot, Great for salads, and versatile enough for baking, mashing and roasting. Good resistance to disease.
  • Second Early – maris peer, Delicious flavour, ideal for boiling, steaming or roasting.
  • Maincrop – King Edward, A firm favourite that makes a fantastic roast potato. Good disease resistance.

At Thompson's Garden Centres we have a great range of seed potatoes that will be available during February, March & April. Come and choose your favourite varieties and grow a fresh crop of tasty potatoes this year.