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Planting Seed Potatoes for a Christmas Harvest

Published: 27th July, 2016

Seed PotatoesNow is the time to start planting potatoes for Christmas. Of course your main crop potatoes basking out there in the sunshine, will still be delivering produce, and with the correct storage these would last until Christmas. But, there is nothing quite like having some tender new early potatoes to enjoy as part of your Christmas meal.

Christmas potatoes, known as First Earlies and Second Earlies, take 11- 12 weeks from planting to cropping. However, as the days gets shorter and colder the growth will slow down, so with about 17 -18 weeks to go until Christmas, planting in August is perfect timing. Varieties such as ‘Charlotte’, ‘Pentland Javelin’ and ‘Maris Peer’ are recommended.

There is no need to chit First and Second Earlies, as they are held back in refrigerated storage over the summer and once they hit your local garden centres and seed suppliers they are ready to go. With the warm temperatures of the compost they will burst into life in no time at all.

To plant, bury them in a trench in a prepared area of the garden about 15 – 20cm (6-8’’) deep, ideally keeping them under cover of a polytunnel. Continue to earth up around them as the foliage grows and the year progresses and the weather gets colder, keeping them as frost free as possible.

Alternatively plant in deep grow bags or containers using a good quality vegetable compost. August is an ideal time for purchasing Grow Bags as the source of your compost as many garden centres will be clearing their summer stock and you’ll be able to grab a couple at bargain basement prices!

Add a layer of compost about 10cm – 20cm (4 – 8”) thick to the bottom of your chosen container. Add the tubers and cover with about 15cm (6”) of compost or soil. You will need no more than one or two seed potatoes per 30L pot. As the foliage develops, earth up the potatoes with further compost or soil until the container is full, leaving a lip to help watering. Place them somewhere in the garden, well sheltered from cold winds and frosts.

Planting in containers is ideal in areas prone to hard frosts, as when a cold spell does set in you can pick them up and carry them into a greenhouse or shed until the extra cold spell has passed.
Once planted feed regularly, about every 3 weeks, all the way up until Christmas. Don’t forget to keep them well watered throughout the remainder of the warm, dry months!

All you now need to do is harvest your crop on Christmas morning! You can leave the tubers in their pots in dry compost until that point.

Henry Street Garden Centre now has seed potatoes in store. Grow your own crop, just in time for Christmas! Visit us today.

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