There is nothing better than serving up homegrown produce and when better than that special meal with friends and family, on Christmas day?
Now is the time to start planting seed-potatoes. They are traditionally planted late August or Early September. They can be grown indoors or in a sheltered outdoor location. If you plant now, they should be ready in just over 12 weeks time.
How to grow potatoes indoors, in time for a Christmas harvest...
- Choose a container that is at least 30 cm deep, as wide as possible and with good drainage. You can buy special potato growing pots and bags (but you don't really need to).
- Start by adding a layer of well-rotted manure or a mix of soil-based compost and manure to the bottom of the pot, at least 10 cm deep.
- Plant your chitted (slightly sprouting) tubers in the compost leaving around 15 cm between each. Cover with about 10 cm of your growing mix and wait…..
- A few weeks later you will start to see amazing signs of life, little green shoots poking their heads through the growing mix. This is the time that you undertake a process called earthing up. Add more compost to cover the foliage and keep doing this as they grow till you get to the top of the container.
- Remember to keep them well watered but do not over-water.
- The foliage should start to turn yellow and start to die back in late autumn early winter, this can be removed and the tops added to your compost heap.
Tip 1: I know its sounds premature but make sure that you keep your greenhouse frost free.
Tip 2: You can keep the potatoes in the container until you are ready to harvest for Christmas but keep the compost on the drier side to stop the potatoes from spoiling.
For those who have space and a mild climate, you can grow outside.
Here a few guidelines to help you;
- Dig a 15 cm deep trench with 15-20 cm between trenches.
- Plant your Christmas potatoes 15 cm apart along the trench and return the soil to cover the potatoes.
- Earth them up (as described above, by adding more soil on top) as the green foliage starts to show. You will need to do this several times.
- Once the foliage yellows remove this and compost.
Tip: This is the point that you have two choices. If you are in light soils you can leave them in the ground and harvest when ready for them. In heavier ground, you may need to lift them and store them to prevent them rotting.
To keep your potatoes fresh, with that ‘new potato flavour’, you can pop them in a cool shed or in the bottom of the fridge.
I really hope that you have gardening success and let me be the first to wish you a very merry Christmas.