To limit the risk of disease, avoid planting into soil that has grown potatoes for two years in succession.
Unpack your seed potatoes immediately on delivery.
They will need chitting prior to planting. Stand them rose end up (the end with the most small eyes in the skin) in an egg box or shallow tray in a cool but frost-free, light and well-ventilated room so they can begin chitting (shooting). A temperature of 10°C (50°F) is ideal.
Leave for 3-4 weeks, and short dark shoots (chits) will emerge from the rose end. They will be ready to plant when these shoots are about 3cm (1in) long. Rub off the weaker shoots, leaving about 4 per tuber. If you leave all the shoots on, you will get more potatoes but they will be smaller. Take care not to damage the shoots when handling or planting.
Soil should be fertile and well-draining. For optimum harvests, particularly if the soil is heavy, dig in some well-rotted manure in the autumn/winter before planting. For lighter soils, just add some well-rotted manure or compost to the trench at the time of planting. Planting can be done from March onwards, when the risk of frost is reduced. Roots will develop best when soil is 15-20°C.
Dig a trench about 10cm (4in) deep and add some of our Organic Potato Fertiliser to the soil. Place the tubers in the trench, rose end up, about 10cm (4in) deep, 37cm (15in) apart, with 75cm (30in) between rows. Alternatively, plant to the same depth and distance apart in a large container or growing bag. Cover with soil and water in.
As soon as growth appears, protect the young shoots from frost by drawing up soil around them or moving pots or bags into a more sheltered position, such as a cool greenhouse. When the stems reach 23cm (9in), draw up more soil around them to prevent the tubers near the surface from turning green.
Keep weed-free and well watered through the growing season, particularly in warmer weather. Dry conditions will result in a reduced crop.
Top-dress with Organic Potato Fertiliser every 4-6 weeks according to packet instructions, working it into the top inch or so of soil around the plants.
Harvest from 13-17 weeks after planting, when leaves begin to turn yellow and die back.
Second early potatoes can be left in the ground for a couple of weeks when they are ready. Alternatively, brush the soil from the skins and allow them to dry before storing in paper bags or hessian sacks in a cool, dark place.