Had a good crop of potatoes this summer? Why not surprise Friends and Family this Christmas by having the freshest potatoes, picked that morning and on the table in time for lunch. It doesn’t get better than that! Second cropping potatoes can be one of the most rewarding crops you can grow.
When should I plant my autumn potatoes?
Timing is really important with your autumn tubers. The best time for planting is in late August, any later and you are unlikely to make that perfect Christmas crop. So buying your tubers in plenty of time is important. Late July and Early August is ideal and will give you time to chit, with planting at the end of the month. If you do get them late, then chitting may not be needed.
Which varieties are suitable for a Christmas Harvest?
The autumn planting seed potatoes are not specially bred variants, but exactly the same tubers as early in the year. They have been stored in perfect conditions which is why they are slightly more expensive.
Most early and second early varieties are suitable potato varieties for late growing. Instore we have Charlotte tubers, which are a waxy salad potato, and they make great new potatoes with Christmas lunch and or a beautiful potato salad for the Boxing Day buffet. Also instock we have Maris Peer and Duke of York, which make excellent Roast potatoes for your Christmas Dinner.
How do I plant out my second crop?
In exactly the same way as you have your first crop. Your soil will be nice and warm so they should get off to a good start, but make sure you water them!!!
Try and avoid planting your crop in the same place as your normal crop. If you can’t avoid it then you use a balanced potato fertiliser like Chempack Organic Potato Fertiliser. The soil will be lacking in nutrients so adding nutrients back is a must.
Potatoes are a thirsty crop and a potato fertiliser is a must wherever you plant out anyway. Try something like Vitax Q4 and avoid areas recently limed, Potatoes like a slightly acidic soil.
If you don’t have much space, you could grow potatoes in bags. We think this is a better way especially if it starts getting too cold. Simply fill the bags with good quality multi-purpose compost or something like Westland organic vegetable compost and your potato fertiliser. Make sure you add the recommended application.
There are a couple of advantages to bag-growing your tubers. Firstly, your potato skins will look very attractive as they will be unmarked. And Secondly as mentioned earlier if the weather gets really bad, you move them into the greenhouse to protect them.
What problems might I encounter with my late crop potatoes?
Due to the change in seasons the main problems will be frost and blight. Frost will kill the foliage and this will mean the tubers cannot develop. Using a fleece to cover the area will help and if it does get too cold double up on the fleece. Try to make sure that the fleece is not touching the foliage as well will help.
Blight’s last danger month is September however it can be a problem right through to November. You can use a spray, but your fleece is a great defense for this. Preventing the spores from landing on the leaves will help prevent blight from taking hold.
For more information, pop instore and check out our range of Christmas Tubers available now.