2020 was the first year that we ventured into selling seed Potatoes for late Season Planting, and what a success it was! We had kept some seed potatoes in cold storage hoping that they would remain at a good enough quality to sell and that people would buy them. We trialled our new 6-tuber nets which outsold the traditional 1 kg nets by almost 2 to 1 and found that customers really appreciated the varieties we had chosen for this experiment. We had Colleen, Maris Peer, Nicola, Record and Sarpo Kifli and these blight-resistant varieties were a good choice for later on in the summer.
As we write we are still waiting to see how everyone is getting on and the final yields but we already confident that we will be offering both 6 tuber nets and potatoes for late planting in 2021. We would love your feedback if you bought from us in 2020.
You can start to plan Christmas Dinner 2021 now! We will decide on the varieties in the spring. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when we start to sell these.
Many journalists and bloggers were interested in this venture with extremely positive feedback. Please see our news page for further details.
Late Season Planting Christmas Dinner 2021 – let’s start planning!
The delight of homegrown, tender new potatoes on Christmas Day is closer than you may think and possible with a little know how.
It’s useful to know what makes a winter seed potato. The simple answer is that they have been in cold storage all spring to delay their growth and taken out from June so that they are ready to start their 12 to 14 week plant-to-harvest cycle. However these timings are given for spring planting and it must be remembered that there is not as much heat or light in the autumn and so plants will take longer or the yields will be less. This means that a potato planted in July or August can produce your ‘roasties’ and new baby potatoes for Christmas Day! Depending on where you are, we would say mid-August would be the latest you could plant.
It’s also useful to know that potatoes harvested in summer require a period of dormancy before they can be used as seed potatoes, so replanting these straight away won’t work. Potatoes planted in summer generally will not need to be chitted, although you can do if you want.
How to grow potatoes indoors for Christmas harvests
- Use a container at least 30cm (1ft) deep and wide, with drainage holes in the base
- Add a layer of potting compost or garden soil mixed with garden compost or well-rotted manure. A layer 10cm (4in) thick is sufficient for 30cm (1ft) deep pots, but larger containers can be half-filled.
- Plant one to three tubers per pot, each with about 30cm (1ft) of space, and cover with 15cm (6in) of compost or soil.
- As the foliage develops, earth up the potatoes with further compost or soil until the container is full to within 5cm (2in) of the top. Leave a lip to aid watering.
- Keep well-watered and feed with a general-purpose liquid fertiliser.
- Ensure the greenhouse remains frost-free as the season progresses, as potato foliage would be damaged by frost.
- The foliage will yellow and die down in late autumn and can then be removed and composted.
- Tubers can be left in their pots in compost (kept fairly dry) until needed at Christmas.
How to grow potatoes outdoors for Christmas harvests
- Follow general instructions for growing potatoes, including planting them in a trench and earthing them up as they begin to grow.
- Take measures to protect against potato blight and slugs.
- Once foliage dies down in September or October, remove and compost it.
- On light soils in a sheltered garden, piling some earth up over the row where you know the potatoes are and covering it with straw to insulate tubers may be sufficient protection to store them in the ground until Christmas.
- In cold areas, or where soils are wet and heavy, it is better to lift tubers by the end of October and re-bury them in coarse sand or soil in a frost-free place (such as a garden shed) until you need them.
- Lifting and storing potatoes in the fridge, or in bags in a cool shed, is possible but will cause the skins to harden and the desirable, delicate ‘new-potato’ flavour and texture will be lost.
- Potatoes are prone to scab and a number of rots but this can usually be avoided when they are grown in fresh compost in containers
- Slugs and snails can damage foliage, stems and tubers underground
- Potatoes grown outside in summer and autumn are especially prone to potato blight. Those in containers indoors are not usually at risk
- Keep an eye on the weather forecasts as early frosts will blacken foliage and weaken plants; fleece protection may be needed for outdoor crops.
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So what are YOU having with your potatoes this year? Side dish of turkey, ham or nut roast? Let the potatoes take centre stage.🎄🎅🎄🎅🎄🎅🎄🎅