Growing Potatoes

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Growing Potatoes

The turn of the year is a good time to start thinking about potatoes.
At the trading store we stock three types of seed potato: earlies, second earlies and main crop.


Earlies should be planted 4″ (10cm) deep, 12″ (30.5cm) apart in rows 24″ (61cm) apart at about the end of March, depending on conditions. They are ready to harvest around 12 weeks later or when the flowers start to open. Earlies are best eaten as soon as they are dug; they are used mainly as new potatoes or in salads.

Rocket potatoes growing in containers
Charlotte potatoes washed and ready

Second Earlies

Second earlies should be planted 4″ (10cm) deep, 12″ (30.5cm) apart in rows 24″ (61cm) apart at about the middle of April. They are ready to harvest around 16 weeks later. They may be dug and eaten straight away (like earlies) or left to mature and dug later (like main crop). Second earlies are used mainly as salad potatoes if dug early and are good for baking if left to mature.

Main Crop

Main crop should be planted 4″ (10cm) deep, 15″ (38cm) apart in rows 30″ (76cm) apart at about the end of April. They are ready to harvest around 20 weeks later or when the foliage has died back and the tubers have matured. Main crop spuds are good for storing over winter and are mainly used for roasting and baking.

Red Desiree potatoes

Let’s take a look at the relative merits of all our stocked varieties.


Second Earlies

Main Crop

Arran Pilot – The nation’s favourite garden-grown variety, Arran Pilot has been around since 1930 and remains popular due to its excellent taste and good boiling qualities. The oval tubers have white flesh and skin with shallow eyes producing a high yield. Resistance to drought, spraing and all forms of scab is good.

Charlotte – Our best-selling second early is also the most popular salad potato variety in the UK. Charlotte tubers are long with yellow skins and firm, yellow waxy flesh – great for beginners. Cooking qualities and flavour are very good making it a chef’s favourite. Resistance to blight and scab is also very good. Yields are high.

Cara – An Irish variety giving high yields, Cara produces large, round tubers with cream flesh and white skin that has shallow pink eyes which makes them a firm favourite on the show bench. Recommended for jacket potatoes, they have a good all round pest and disease resistance especially blight and store well.

Foremost – Another great British favourite previously known as Suttons Foremost this variety was first introduced more than 50 years ago. It produces good yields of relatively small short oval tubers with slightly waxy firm white flesh of good flavour and cooking qualities. Foremost has a high resistance common scab and is not usually attacked by slugs. A good all-rounder.

Kestrel – A favourite with both gardeners and exhibitors, Kestrel produces white, smooth skinned, long oval tubers that have purple-blue eyes. The tuber’s consistent size and colour makes them good for showing and the cream coloured floury flesh makes them good in the kitchen. Excellent all round resistance especially to eelworm, slugs and blight. Yields are high.

Desiree – Our best-selling main crop is also the world’s most popular red potato. Desiree produces very high yields of large oval potatoes which have yellow, firm waxy-textured flesh; they are especially good roasted or mashed. It does well in heavy soil or in dry conditions, it also stores well for winter consumption.

International Kidney – Considered by some as second early International Kidney potatoes are known as ‘Jersey Royals’ when they are grown in Jersey. They were introduced in 1879 and are now considered to be a heritage variety. Tubers are medium sized and oval in shape with shallow eyes, cream waxy flesh and white skin, great for use in salads. Good resistance to common scab, leaf roll and virus Y.

Nadine – Introduced in 1987, Nadine is probably the highest yielding of any variety in the UK. It produces white skinned, cream fleshed tubers round in shape, which are equally at home on the show bench or in the supermarket. Resistance to potato cyst nematode is good, but to dry rot, powdery scab, blackleg and potato leafroll virus less so.

King Edward – An old traditional English favourite, King Edward is well known for it’s excellent flavour, especially when roasted or baked. An oval, white skinned potato which has pink eyes and creamy white flesh with a light, floury texture. Although yields can be moderate this variety is a great all-rounder for the home grower. It shows good resistance to slugs and scab.

Maris Bard – Producing high yields of a good even sized tubers Maris Bard, is one of the fastest maturing earlies. Potatoes are oval shaped with white skins, shallow eyes and white flesh. A distinctive ‘new potato’ flavour means they are best suited to boiling and salad use. Good all round pest and disease resistance, especially common scab.

Maris Piper – An excellent choice for the beginner, Maris Piper is the variety used by most chip shops. It produces good yields of oval shaped tubers which have white skins and a floury cream coloured flesh. As well as making good chips they are also ideal for roasting and baking. Golden eelworm resistant.

Pentland Javelin – One of the finest earlies that you can grow, Pentland Javelin matures later than some but produces heavy crops of short oval white skinned tubers with pure white tasty flesh. A great potato for boiling and in salads. Good all round pest and disease resistance, especially common golden eelworm.

Picasso – Bred from Cara this variety produces very high yields of oval tubers which have light yellow waxy flesh and cream skin with a hint of red. Picasso, one of the earliest maincrops, also has good all-round drought and disease resistance. Great for the allotment or the garden.

Rocket – Our best-selling early is also one of the very earliest varieties, producing large crops of uniform round tubers which have white flesh and skin with shallow eyes and a mild taste. Suitable for growing in bags or containers they are a good variety for exhibiting at shows. They have good resistance to blackleg, common scab, eelworm and spraing.

Pink Fir Apple – A very old variety dating back to 1850, Pink Fir Apple produces long, knobbly, pink skinned tubers with butter yellow, waxy flesh, and a distinctive nutty flavour. They are best cooked with skins left on and are perfect for salads. Although yields can be low, they store well and are resistant common scab.

Swift – The earliest of all earlies, Swift may be harvested in as little as 9 weeks. A high yielding variety that produces a round-to-oval shaped white tuber with creamy flesh and shallow eyes it is ideally suited to being grown in bags or containers and exhibiting at shows. It is excellent as a salad potato and has great resistance to blackleg, common scab, powdery scab and eelworm.

Sarpo Mira – A late main crop originally bred in Hungary, Sarpo Mira produces huge quantities of red oval tubers that have a dry floury texture and are best suited to roasting, baking and chipping. It is a good keeper that has unprecedented blight resistance and good slug resistance – every growers dream spud!

Winston – Introduced in 1992 and rivalling Swift in time to harvest, Winston produces good yields of large white oval smooth-skinned tubers. The creamy flesh has excellent flavour as a new potato and if left to mature makes a fantastic baker. Having good resistance to eelworm, drought, and bruising, these RHS AGM winners have achieved much success on the show bench.

Setanta – An Irish bred late main crop potato, Setanta produces huge quantities of medium sized red oval tubers that have a dry floury texture and are best suited to roasting, baking and chipping. It is a good keeper that has unprecedented blight resistance and good drought tolerance – ideal for the organic grower at home or on the allotment.

A sack of King Edward potatoes

A single chitted potato on the ground

Potatoes in sacks

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