FAQs How do I …What is…when…?
Your potato questions. Answered.
We’ve compiled the most FAQs about Potatoes and how to grow seed potatoes here. No matter what stage you are in the potato year, we are here to help. Whether you need help to identify which variety to grow, where and how to plant, when to harvest or how to store please let us know. If you need more information please contact us.
🥔Before I buy I need to know...
Measure the area you are going to plant and you will need roughly 4 per square meter. If you are planting in a pot, make sure the pot is deep enough. Ideally, it should be a minimum of 30cm.
The vast majority of our seed potatoes will come in the following net sizes:
- 6 Tuber
- 1 kg
- 10 kg
- 25 kg
However, there are some varieties that will come in 5 tuber nets and also some that we will not sell in 25kg nets. We grow small quantities of lots of varieties to be able to offer to gardeners and allotment growers. Unfortunately this will mean that quantities are limited and so we are unable to sell in 25 kg bags. We are sorry for any disappointment this will cause.
You really should only use certified seed potatoes. Potatoes sprouting at the back of cupboards can carry diseases that have been eradicated from UK by hard working farmers. Many people use shop bought seeds and are fine – it’s a bit like wearing a cycle helmet – nothing to worry about until you fall off. Many diseases are put down to blight or frost damage as usually general gardeners can’t recognise other diseases. Some diseases like ring rot are notifiable – do you know who to inform? If the disease spreads to a commercial crop it can decimate an entire crop.The diseases only show in the growing season and so are fine to eat – it’s when you plant them that the problems can start.
- Yields can be lower as the crops can be sprayed with anti growth.
- Also you are stuck with the bland tasting supermarket varieties!
- All our potatoes are certified seed and we are proud to be members of Safe Haven. We are inspected throughout the season and this is our guarantee to you of top quality potatoes free of some diseases. This and all our other certificates can be seen here
- We looked at packaging over summer 2020 and for our small nets (1kg, and 6 tuber) these are in plastic nets like you would get in a supermarket with fruit. Unfortunately, there are no degradable options that are robust enough for our machines. The labels is also not degradable – again looking like super market labels. There is no cost effective, reliable label recyclable or degradable that will withstand the printing process.
- Our smaller parcels are then sent in plastic postage sacks.
- If your order is larger, all our 25kg paper bags are fully recycled and recyclable, including the string used. All our Hessian sacks are also recyclable. If your order is around 3kg+ we put all the nets you have ordered into one of our 10kg bags and trim it down.
- This is something we are actively looking at and will update our customers.
- Hopefully in 2022 we will be able to supply potato days again – we help with many potato days throughout the country and supply in large sacks for the organiser to sell by the tuber.
- Quite simply it is the length of time taken for the plant to mature and give a good harvest. If you planted a tuber of each cropping type on the same day, the earlies would be ready first.
- Early potatoes are what we think of when new potatoes are mentioned – harvest cooked and eaten within a few hours for that magical new potato taste. New potatoes are often quite expensive in shops and so many gardeners like to grow these. They take 10-12 weeks to mature and are usually harvested before blight sets in. These potatoes do not store for too long. Can be planted up until the end of June.
- Second Earlies take slightly longer at around 14-16 weeks to mature.
- Early Main Crop and Main Crop (sometimes lumped together) take around 20-25 weeks respectively to mature and these varieties are the ones that will store for much longer. Main crops can be planted till around the middle of May depending on where you are in the UK.
- There is so much variation in the weather throughout the UK it is hard to give definitive dates as to when to plant. The idea is to have the last frost in your area to be finished before the plant comes through.
- There is obviously some overlap in these broad definitions and other factors such as chitting, soil, weather, location in the garden as well as personal preference to be taken into account. Most people will either stagger planting or plant different crop types to ensure a long supply of homegrown potatoes.
- Recently a 5th crop type has been talked about – the Late Season for Christmas Market. These potatoes can be any crop type and are grown accordingly. We have an information page about growing late season potatoes.
- There is an average of 12-14 tubers in a 1kg net. But this can vary depending on variety and the harvest – we could supply only the mid sized tubers – but then what would we do with the larger and smaller ones – if they could not be sold we would need to charge double for the medium ones and this would generate huge waste.
- The number could be as low as 8 or as high as 16.
- If the number is important, please order a 6 tuber net.
- Our 1kg nets are 1kg, and can have variation in size of the tubers within that net.
- Our 6-tuber nets of potatoes are packed by number, not weight and so there can be a variation on the size of the tubers in each net. Our 1kg nets are 1kg, but can also have variation in size of the tubers within that net. There is an average of 12-14 tubers in a 1kg net. But this can vary depending on variety and the harvest – we could supply only the mid sized tubers – but then what would we do with the larger and smaller ones – if they could not be sold we would need to charge double for the medium ones and this would generate huge waste. The number could be as low as 8 or as high as 16.
- Seed Potatoes are generally much smaller than the supermarket eating equivalent. Unless otherwise stated, we sell our potatoes as 35mm-55mm which is the industry standard across the UK.
- This does not mean that the tuber is 35mmx55mm This means that when the potato is graded, it will fall through a 55mm square, but not through a 35mm square.
This year we are trialling selling much smaller potatoes and these will be very clearly marked. We are offering these to you as a trial – by having a market for these small potatoes and being able to sell at a reduced price means that we can keep our prices low overall. These will be offered, if available when we have sold out of our standard potatoes. They are still within the size limits allowed to be sold as seed potatoes and will give a great crop. There are around 12 in a 450g bag. and we would suggest planting two of these as one. The 450g nets are included in the 6 tuber net and 1kg bulk deals. Your feedback is most welcome whether you buy or not, please let us know.
We abide by the rules set in The Seed Potatoes (Scotland) Regulations 2015
Here at Potato House, we net and bag up most of our potatoes. If a variety is out of stock this could be temporary or indeed we could well be out of stock for the season. There could be a delay from our store to the web as we communicate this information. Some varieties are grown to order – these are not even listed on our web. Some varieties are “sold out” before the start of the season – we will have most of the crop sold but will perhaps have some available later once we do the final bagging for our customers and therefore new varieties may sometimes appear mid-season.
We have four different stock messages on our products. These will vary as the season progresses.
If a product has COMING SOON it means we are still assessing quality/quantity from our harvest, or that we are in the process of buying this variety from our trusted growers.
If a product has DELAY TO REBAG on it, it means that we need to check stock and re-bag if we still have some left. This is not a guarantee that we do have more in stock. We have to check. Later in the season, the quality can deteriorate quickly and we may need to withdraw a variety.
If a product has SOLD OUT for 2022, it really does mean sold out.
If a product has UNAVAILABLE FOR 21-22 it means that we have had this variety in recent years but are not able to supply it for this season. We simply do not have the room to grow every variety each year and so if you are looking for a variety that you bought from us before and we now don’t stock it, we may grow it again in the future. Occcasionally there is a crop failure.
Potato House grows around 90 varieties and some are in small quantities and sell out quickly. We leave these products on our web and if you are looking for a particular variety, we invite you to join our mailing list. When we harvest in the autumn and know quantities we then will open our web up for pre-orders and let our mailing list know about the varieties. You can also sign up for individual variety alerts found on each variety page.
This is a very recent addition for describing potato growing. Andrew’s family have been growing potatoes for generations and do not use this terminology. This information is anecdotal and we do not know of anywhere that has this information that is reliable for us to use. The industry-accepted terminology such as “first early” are all documented in the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board AHDB site https://varieties.ahdb.org.uk/ and this is where we get all our information regarding disease resistance etc.
Determinate varieties produce a certain number of tubers then stop producing more. Indeterminate varieties will go on producing tubers so there is more likely a range of large and small tubers at harvest.
Until we find information that is reliable you can not search by this term on our site.
🥔What are the payment, delivery and returns terms?
We have discounts that are applied automatically at check out:
- Any combination of any variety of 6 Tuber nets and 1kg nets – £1/kg discount if you order 5-9nets in total. £2/kg discount if you order 10+ nets in total.
- 25kg bags of any variety – We have discounts built into the website for small commercial orders. If you are purchasing this quantity for the first time, we would love to chat to you about your plans.
£5/25kg discount if you order 5-9 bags in total. £17/25kg discount if you order 10-19 bags in total.
£18/25kg discount if you order 20-29 bags in total.
£19/25kg discount if you order 30-39 bags in total.
£20/25kg discount if you order 40+ bags in total.
- Please contact us at for more info. If you are looking for our prices for 1T or 1.25T bags of the same variety for commercial planting, please call us.
We can also bulk supply 1kg or 6 tuber nets for shops. Please email or call us and we will help you with quantities and varieties and put together a special deal for you.
Organising a Potato Day or looking to do a group purchase?
You can pay by the following methods:
- PAYPAL / CREDIT CARD. These are our preferred payment methods, you do NOT need to have a PayPal account and can still pay via credit card. This payment is instant and it automatically puts your order to processing. This is secure for both customer and supplier. We do not get your credit card details.
- We can accept orders over the phone via credit card.
- BACS: This is not automatic, and we have to manually check our account which may not be done each day. Your order will not begin to be processed until we confirm that your money is in our account.
- CHEQUE: Please be aware that payment by cheque is a very slow process. After it has been in the post to us cheques are only processed once a week as we do not work near a bank. It then needs to clear which can take 2 days. Only when we have checked that the money has cleared in our account can the order begin to be processed.
Once your money is confirmed in our account, we aim to dispatch within 3 days
- All prices include delivery costs within UK. Sadly this now excludes Northern Ireland due to Brexit. See our statement here
- If you wish to pick up we offer a 15% discount. By default, this option will only appear for local postcodes. If yours doesn’t appear, use our postcode DD3 0QN in the “Deliver to Address”. You need to select local pick up and also put code Pickup in the coupon box. Also to help us, put “pick up” in the “deliver to address”. Note that your order may still take a day or two to organise and we will contact you when your order is ready. We operate on a working farm with machinery, vehicles and livestock and so please keep children and pets inside your car when picking up. This is only available for orders up to £50 – if you wish to pick up a larger order, please contact us prior to ordering.
- Yes, we deliver here. For larger orders, we can deliver to the quay on the mainland for you to arrange transport or we can get a quote for you.
- For small orders under 2kg we are able to send by Royal Mail at no extra charge. Please state payment by cheque – this allows the order to get to our system without payment. Please email us and we shall then remove the surcharge and you can pay by your preferred method.
- For orders over 2kg, we will need to check courier costs. Please put your address in and then put payment by cheque – this allows the order to come through without payment. Once we establish the delivery costs, we will issue you with an invoice to be paid in your preferred manner.
- A flat rate of £20 has been added for orders from Channel Islands and IOM, this is roughly what up to 5kg would cost and so if you pay by credit card it is assumed that you are happy with this charge and do not want a quote. No refunds will be given if postage is less than this. Please note that if delivery is more than £20 we will invoice you for the difference.
- However if you state you will pay by cheque, the exact amount will then be quoted depending on weight.
We live and work rurally and dislike all surcharges to certain postcodes that we are subject to as customers. As such we are committed to delivering your order at no extra cost.
- For orders under 2kg we use Royal Mail and so no surcharges are applicable.
- For orders 2kg – 10kg, we shop around to find the best courier service for each order to Highlands and Islands. We are conscious of the higher costs of living rurally and so we look after every order personally. Please help us by combining deliveries with neighbours wherever possible to offset our higher courier charges. Perhaps you could organise a potato growing club in your community?
- Unfortunately, for large or extremely remote orders, it is highly likely that we will need to pass on some haulage charge. we reserve the right to contact you if we can’t get a viable rate.
We are reluctantly forced to close our online shop to customers in the EU and Northern Ireland. We have grown our business over the last 20 years and viewed all 500 million citizens as our domestic market. Until our government and the EU agree dynamic alignment of seed potato certification and plant health standards we are not permitted to send seed potatoes or table potatoes to the EU or Northern Ireland. Even once a deal is done, and our standards are recognised in the EU, it might still not be possible for us to open the shop again – the paperwork required to accompany orders and the tariffs might be prohibitive.
We would like to thank our loyal EU and Northern Ireland customers large and small for your custom and words of support recently, it really does mean a lot to us.
From our family firm,
- Most varieties are available between December and May.
- To ensure your order arrives in the best possible condition, deliveries will be made as soon as all the varieties on your order are available, using an appropriate courier or postal service.
- We aim to dispatch within 3 days and then delivery will take 3-4 days.
- All products ordered will be sent together under the one delivery charge. If you require us to split the delivery please let us know and a secondary postal charge will be payable.
- Let us know of a safe place, preferably under cover, in which your parcel can be left in the event of no one being home when the delivery is attempted.
- If you want a specific week, let us know in the information box and we will do our best to send it out then.
- If you choose to pay by BACS or cheque we will not begin to process your order until your payment has been received and cleared.
- During times of frost or low temperatures deliveries will be held back until more favourable conditions prevail.
- Some deliveries may be delayed if we have to re- stock certain varieties, we will try to keep you informed of any delays.
- Contact us as soon as possible! Whether you have changed your mind on variety, amount or indeed whether you wish to cancel the order, we can help if we catch the order prior to dispatch.
- If the order has been dispatched and you wish to order more, please place another order.
- If the order has been dispatched and you wish to change variety or amount, or wish to cancel, you will be liable for returning the unwanted goods to us in an unused condition in a timely manner. Only once goods are returned to us and checked will we be able to issue any refund MINUS OUR POSTAL COSTS.
- Please see our Terms for further details.
We at Potato House pride ourselves on the quality of our seed potatoes and service to all customers.
- We are a small family business and aim to get every order right. However, as we are dealing with fresh produce and delivery, an order can occasionally go wrong. If this happens, Amy or Andrew Skea (owners and directors) will personally deal with your complaint. We believe in great customer service and are delighted to have orders of 6 tubers alongside our larger orders.
- Please check the quality of your order as soon as it arrives. Orders are sent out normally on 48 hour deliveries your seed should be in perfect condition as they are visually checked prior to dispatch. If there is any defect or quality problem with the seed on arrival you must inform us by email or in writing within 7 days of delivery. Where possible, pictures should be included.
- As our potatoes are fresh produce, we cannot accept responsibility for any deterioration of the seed after that time unless under special circumstances. If there is a valid reason for complaint, we will either replace or refund part or all your order, whichever you prefer. We may require you to return the original order – postage will be refunded if the quality is sub-standard.
- We abide by the rules set in The Seed Potatoes (Scotland) Regulations 2015
- Please see our Terms for further details.
After delivery it is your responsibility to store the seed in the correct manner. Any deterioration of your seed after the initial complaints period of 7 days will be at your own risk. If you do not have the correct conditions to store the seed correctly it would be better to ask for delivery 2 to 4 weeks before planting. If you want to chit your potato seed then January or February would be a good time for delivery if you live in the South of England, whereas March would be better if you live further north.
🥔How do I chit, plant, grow and harvest my potatoes? What problems will I have?
- Chitting is simply waking the seed potato up after its winter dormancy ready to grow.
- It is definitely a good idea to chit, but to do this you need to get your seed nice and early – maybe January or February if you are in the South of England and March or April if you are in North of Scotland. The aim is to have your potatoes come through the ground after the last frost in your area as the new plant is susceptible to frost.
- Chitted seed will be ready to grow much quicker once Spring arrives and the soil warms up. Chitted seed should come through the ground in about 2 weeks.
- If you buy your seed in April or May, however, then there is little or no advantage in chitting since the soil temperature will be ok for planting, though the unchitted seed will take c4 weeks to come through the ground.
- Remove the seed potatoes from the net as soon as you receive them (as the shoots will grow through the nets and can break if you try to remove them) and put them in an egg carton in a sunny window sill (make sure it is frost free if you are doing this in a greenhouse or shed). The shoots will start to sprout and when they are around an inch long they will be ready to plant.
We have a great video on How to Chit potatoes
When to plant is a multi-million £££ question!
This is a jigsaw and depends on where you are! You need to work out the last frost date for your area and work backwards from there. We generally say later is fine! a lot of folk are caught out with late frosts in April and May – the young plant is susceptible to frost. However it really depends on where you live and personal preference – if you can keep the plants frost free by bringing them indoors or wrapping with fleece/old sheet etc. We have customers in Cornwall who are harvesting just as our customers in Northern Scotland are planting!
Mid-Feb till Mid-March is around average to start chitting and gives you 4-6 weeks to chit and then plant in late March /April if the forecast is looking good! However, delaying by a week or two would do no harm.
Earlies take around 100 days to mature and can be planted up until the end of June.
Main crop take around 4-5 months to mature and can be planted up till around mid May.
Late season varieties for a Christmas Harvest should be planted by mid August.
- You can plant potatoes up until June and even later if you have some late season ones. See our page how to choose for a description of the different crop types.
- There is a common myth that you can cut the tuber up to give a better yield. We do not advise this. Tubers have enough stored energy to get to the surface and produce a healthy crop. By cutting they you are risking the tuber going mouldy as it has no skin to protect it and lower yields.
- Potatoes like to be watered but not water-logged and so ensure your pot or area has good drainage.
- Potatoes need a sunny site away from frost pockets – the newly emerging foliage is susceptible to frost damage in April and May. The ground can be prepared the previous autumn or winter by digging in organic matter such as well-rotted animal manure or compost. Do not use an an area that has had potatoes or tomatoes in it the previous year as some diseases can remain in the soil.
- The traditional planting method is to dig a narrow trench 12cm (5in) deep. The seed tubers are spaced 30cm (12in) apart for earlies and 37cm (15in) for maincrop varieties in rows 24in (60cm) apart for earlies and 75cm (30in) apart for maincrop. Apply a general purpose fertiliser at this stage. When the emerging shoots come through, you need to “earth” or “mound” them up – this is counter intuitive. Do this several times. This encourages downward growth – the new tubers will jostle for space and any growing near the surface will turn green.
- Small crops of potatoes can also be grown in large, deep containers, and this is a good way of getting an early batch of new potatoes. Fill the bottom 15cm (6in) of the container with potting compost and plant the seed potato just below this. As the new stems start growing, keep adding compost until the container is full.
Each variety has a different flower, but in some years they are absent or only appear briefly. This is down to lots of different factors such as weather and soil. Some varieties hardly flower even in optimum conditions. Potatoes are almost unique in that they do not need a flower to germinate in order to produce the next generation, the new tubers grow underground and are true to the parent. They may differ in size and colour, but the DNA of the new tubers will be true to the parent. No flower does not mean a failed crop.
According to The Royal Horticultural Society RHS, Potato and tomato blight, also known as late blight, attacks the foliage and fruit or tubers of tomatoes and potatoes, causing rotting. It is most common in wet weather. Blight is a disease caused by a fungus-like organism that spreads rapidly in the foliage and tubers or fruit of potatoes and tomatoes in wet weather, causing collapse and decay.
Blight resistant potatoes are most definitely a thing and you can read more here
The advice on the RHS site on how to avoid and identify scab is a fantastic resource. They recommend choosing varieties that are scab resistant and we have several of their recommendations. Remember that no variety will have 100% resistance. It is also worth asking neighbours or fellow allotment growers at your plot for their recommendations as anecdotal evidence may carry weight locally. Potatoes with scab may look awful, but it is perfectly safe to eat – you may want to peel them first.
After flowering, some plants will produce a seed pod which looks like a tomato. If planted, they could grow to be a potato, but the seedlings will not grow true to the parent – it will depend on what it was pollinated with – it will take 5 years and a lot of luck for something to produce new tubers – and even then they might not taste good. Just compost them. If you have curious toddlers around, it might be an idea to remove the pod in case they try to eat them . They are not poisonous to the touch. Breeders are the only people who need these and wouldn’t touch the ones on random plants. They have them pollinated in controlled environments so they know what has been x with what. We are breeding new potato varieties and you can read about it in our story page.
Answer – coming
With earlies, wait until the flowers open or the buds drop; the tubers are ready to harvest when they are the size of hens’ eggs. With maincrops for storage wait until the foliage turns yellow, then cut it and remove it. Leave for 10 days before harvesting the tubers – this allows the skin to set, leaving them to dry for a few hours before storing.
Early Potatoes do not store long and so should be eaten within a few days of harvest.
Once you have chopped the leaves down from the Main Crop, you can leave in the soil for a week to 10 days. This allows the skins to set. Do not wash them at this time as the soil will help to keep them in great condition. These will store for a few months in a cool (not freezing) dark place, such as in a shed, under the stair or utility room. Storing them in a box or hessian bag allows them still to breath – a plastic container would not allow airflow and they could go mouldy.
Please also see our story to give you some background information about our company and the varieties we chose to grow for you. Our certificates are located on this page as well. If you can’t find an answer, please contact us we will do our best to help.
On our news page we have articles and videos on how and when to plant potatoes.