Quick Tips on Growing Early Potatoes
- Aim for crops of new potatoes to lift in May-July from ‘first early’ varieties Rocket, Arran Pilot, Duke of York, Pentland Javelin, Rocket, Winston and/or Lady Christl. they will be ready in 10-12 weeks.
- Buy small tubers (size isn’t so important) of seed potato from your garden centre or mail order
- Encourage sprouting, ‘chitting’, by placing the potatoes in a cool light place with the bud eyes facing upwards. For a small number you can stand them in old egg boxes. You are aiming to get short, strong shoots at the rose end. If there are too many shoots I rub off some of the surplus to channel energy.
- A bit of warmth or at least a sheltered spot will bring them on. Avoid frost and cold as they grow.
- Plant out 3 inches deep in mid February- March into organically rich, fertilised soil about a foot apart.
- You may wish to try growing in a pot or special potato sack or barrel where you can add soil as the plant grows to save earthing up.
- Choose varieties that have a subtle flavour and a good waxy texture such as ‘Accent’
- For a floury potato try ‘Red Duke of York’ or old varieties Pentland Javelin, Maris Bard or Arran Pilot
- Water little and often adding high potash feed.
- Cut off foliage and leave in the soil for a couple of weeks if you want skins to set
- Eat new potatoes as soon as they are picked and take care they do not go into the water.
Main crop spuds take 14 weeks or so to mature. Some varieties flower and that indicates they are ready to harvest.
Second earlies give you a chance to spread the cropping period. I do not bother preferring a range of varieties that achieves the same end.
I like the salad varieties Ratte, Pink Fir Apple and Charlotte.