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Planting Potato Seed (continued - page 2)

Planting Potato Seed
(continued - page 2)

When and How To Plant Potato Seed
Potatoes are grown from 'seed' potatoes which grow better if they are allowed  to 'sprout' before planting. First purchase the seed potatoes in late January. These are available from seed catalogues or your local garden centre. Look for seed potato which is certified as free from disease and select healthy looking examples about the size of an egg. 

The disadvantage of the catalogues and garden centres is that the number of potato seed varieties is very limited and they are only sold in large amounts. If you only want more variety and to buy several varieties in small amounts, the solution is to go to one of the many potato shows around the country. For an idea of a typical show and prices etc. click here.

Potato Seed in egg boxesIn mid February, place the seeds in boxes (for small amounts, cardboard egg boxes are ideal) in a light airy position at a temperature of roughly 10�C / 50�F. See right. 

The potato seed should be positioned so the the sprouts are uppermost and the 'stalk' end (where they were severed form the parent plant) is at the bottom. Sometimes this is a bit difficult to judge, but if you get it wrong, and the potatoes sprout from the bottom end, simply rub off the sprouts and turn the potato to the correct position. The picture below shows the stalk end of a potato which should be at the bottom when placed in the egg boxes.

Stalk end of a seed potato

Plant Potato Seed picture, sprouting potatoesAs the potato seed produce sprouts, remove all but the topmost four to ensure that they receive all the goodness of the seed potato. The ideal sprout length at planting time is 2.5cm / 1in although this is not critical. What is critical, is that the sprouts are green and not white coloured. White sprouts are caused by not enough light. Click the picture to enlarge.

If the sprouts appear too early for planting the potatoes outside, simply rub them off cleanly and they will re-sprout in a couple of weeks time. Research has shown that the sprouts can be removed five times without any ill effect on the sprouts which will replace them.

Mid March is the ideal time to plant the sprouted potatoes in the open ground. Plant 'earlies' about 30cm / 12in apart from each other, in rows which are 60cm /  2ft apart. Plant maincrop potatoes about 35cm / 15in apart, in rows which are 75cm / 2ft 6in apart. Where you are planting more than one row, the rows should (ideally) run from North to South to allow each plant its full share of sun.

Dig a trench about 10cm / 4in deep, placing the potatoes in it with the sprouts pointing upwards. Hand fill the trench over the potatoes trying to avoid damaging any sprouts. Scatter bonemeal or similar long lasting fertiliser over the top soil and rake it in.

How to Grow Potatoes For Christmas Eating
In many areas it's quite possible to grow your own potatoes for eating in October through to Christmas. Potato plants produce good sized tubers in 65 to 100 days depending on variety. Click here for a separate page on how to plant potatoes in August.

Caring for Your Potatoes
Frost damage is the first concern in the early stages. If shoots emerge above the soil level and frost threatens, draw a little soil from the bed edges over them. 

Planting Potato picture, earthing upAfter the potatoes plants have grown to about 20cm / 8in pull up the soil in between the rows around the plants leaving a few centimetres still showing. Repeat the exercise in two to three weeks time. The diagram to the right shows the ideal end result (click here to obtain an enlarged picture).  

During the growing season, ensure that weeds are removed and apply some long lasting fertiliser again around mid-August. A month or so after planting, the dense foliage of the plant should then block out sufficient light to deter all but the most vigorous weeds. 

As the potato plant grows, do not remove or 'stop' the foliage, it is supplying food to the tubers. However, remove any flower heads or buds which appear because these will produce potato seeds which will divert energy from the potato tubers.

Potato Home Page       Previous Potato Page


Name: abdi
Date posted: August 10, 2011 - 05:08 pm
Message: Hey. I live in Ottawa Ontario and would like to plant potatoes in the spring. Where could i buy them and could i use the ones from the grocery store.

Name: Judith
Date posted: July 07, 2011 - 06:23 pm
Message: How often do I water the potatoes
and do I soak the soil firs before planting. especially with the bone meal.

Name: Richard Scherer
Date posted: June 11, 2011 - 04:14 pm
Message: Have Five 90 ft rows of Red Norland potato seed planted up and growing, and 19 rows of early corn all going to the local food bank at harvest time. Still have another 15 rows of corn to plant plus tomatoes, etc. Hope all readers are able to donate food.

Name: Kenny
Date posted: June 09, 2011 - 04:32 pm
Message: When the potato plants start to produce flowers it is advisable to remove the flowers early to prevent the tubers from losing the food so far accumulated within them.

Name: Lori
E-mail: Private
Date posted: May 27, 2011 - 08:18 pm
Message: I planted end of April and did so last year too. This year it looks already like there is something eating the leaves, tiny holes are on the leaves, can I spray them with something nature to deter pests or plant another plant beside them, thanks

Name: juls
Date posted: May 26, 2011 - 04:24 pm
Message: help we are growing red rooster potatoes planted early march lots foliage no sign of flowers but leaves a good two foot!!! do all potatoes flower before they are ready to be picked??? advice needed thanks

Name: Angela Ferrazzano
Date posted: May 25, 2011 - 10:25 am
Message: Can I plant potato's in May, I have some seeded potato's

Name: Edward Lawrence
Date posted: May 22, 2011 - 03:35 pm
Message: As my small garden is largely a tiled patio, I am attempting to grow potatoes in a large tub with quality soil- bag earth.

The plants have a good crop of green leaves and I am wondering if they need much watering as we have had very little rain? Many thanks!

Name: nicola
Date posted: May 19, 2011 - 03:47 am
Message: how can i stop the leaves on my early potatoes getting frost damaged please help

Name: majid reyhani
Date posted: December 08, 2010 - 11:26 am
Message: Thank you for the contents

Name: Baron
Date posted: November 19, 2010 - 06:33 am
Message: I am interested in your product.

Name: tammy
Date posted: November 12, 2010 - 06:24 am
Message: when is the best time to plant potatoes?

Name: Rohulah safa
E-mail: Private
Date posted: September 05, 2010 - 10:25 am
Message: Iam a farmer. I want informtion aboat diseas of potato and kontrol