It’s a great moment in spring when the first potatoes get planted; it seems as though the garden year is really in full swing.
Potatoes can be planted in most soils but they’re particularly good in acid soils, where scab will be less prevalent. If you have alkaline soil, don’t worry because scab isn’t a foregone conclusion and, unless you’re growing for showing, it shouldn’t be a worry – the marks are only skin deep and won’t affect kitchen crops.
The easiest to grow, because they mature more quickly and are usually ready in July, are earlies (such as ‘Arran Pilot’ and ‘Pentland Javelin’) and second earlies (such as ‘Jazzy’ and ‘Charlotte’). These usually escape damage from potato blight because they’re harvested before it becomes a problem from August onwards.
Adding compost or well-rotted manure will provide some nutrients and also retain moisture in the soil during dry spells, which will help prevent the plants from wilting and the tubers from splitting because of irregular watering.
Deep planting isn’t necessary because the shoots will be covered with earth as they grow, initially to protect the young shoots from late frosts in May, but later to prevent any light getting to the developing tubers, which will make them green and inedible. If you don’t have a veg plot you can always grow a few in bags.
See the picture gallery for your step by step guide
Dig out a trench – growing potatoes involves lots of digging so it's good on new plots to cultivate the soil.
- Dig out a trench – growing potatoes involves lots of digging so it’s good on new plots to cultivate the soil.
- Fork over the base of the trench and add a thick layer of well-rotted manure or compost. It will also help acidify the soil.
- Place the tuber onto the soil, pushing it in. Early potatoes can be planted 40-45cm (1¼-1½ft) apart.
Carefully cover the tubers with soil, and don’t break off the shoots. Level the soil surface, ready to earth up later.