What could be nicer than enjoying your own freshly harvested potatoes at Christmas? With a little bit of care and attention this is perfectly possible in a SylvaGrow Planter!
The principles of late-season potatoes are pretty similar to spring-planted ones. But it’s best to purchase seed potatoes that have been specially prepared for the purpose of a late planting. Potatoes harvested from your own summer crop are unlikely to work, as a period of dormancy is needed. You may find seed potatoes in garden centres but there are plenty of specialist suppliers (including organic ones) online.
Varieties such as Charlotte, Nicola, Maris Peer and Pentland Javelin should all do well but there are many others to explore. Look for what is described as ‘first early’ and ‘second early’ as these mature more quickly than maincrop varieties.
How to grow late-season potatoes
The easiest way to succeed is in a greenhouse or other light, sunny place where you can protect your crop from frost. Growing outdoors in the soil is possible but your plants are more likely to suffer attacks of blight and may be harder to protect from slugs and snails.
We recommend our SylvaGrow Planter for Organic Growing. Growing them like this, also means if you buy organic tubers and feed them organically you can have truly organic potatoes!
- Place the Planter on its end and cut it open along the short edge.
- Remove two-thirds of the contents and reserve them for later use.
- It’s important to pierce several holes in the base to allow for free drainage of water.
- Place three to five tubers in the remaining compost and cover with around 15cm (6 inches) of the peat-free compost.
Aftercare for your Christmas potatoes
Water them well immediately after planting but remember that lots of run-off means lots of leached nutrients. Your newly planted tubers are unlikely to need much watering for the first couple of weeks but thereafter ensure the compost is kept damp but not saturated.
As the days are much warmer in August than in the spring, your potatoes will grow very quickly. And as the days get shorter and cooler, they will slow down. Always make sure your potatoes are kept frost free.
As you would in the spring, use the reserved compost to earth up the green shoots, leaving just a couple of inches at a time. Repeat until all of the reserved compost has been added back into the bag.
Use a proprietary liquid feed after around four to six weeks. You can use a certified organic feed if you wish to maintain the organic integrity of your potatoes. Feed until the foliage starts to die back in the autumn.
The tubers can be left in the compost (which should be fairly dry) or removed and kept in a cool place until you are ready to enjoy them.
The used compost in the Planter also makes a wonderful soil improver so don’t waste it!