First Early Potatoes
Solanum tuberosum (First Earlies Group)
2 years to reach maturity
This plant has no fragrance
First Early Potatoes Overview
There are three terms given to potatoes that let you know when they need planting and harvesting. First Early Potatoes are typically planted between February and April, depending on your location and ready between June and July. They tend to be smaller but very tasty. The tubers are often described as having either waxy - ideal to be boiled for salads and layer dishes, floury - perfect for roasting, chips and mash, or all-purpose textures - harvest early as new potatoes or grow longer for meatier spuds that you can cook any way you choose. Once you've got your spuds home, you can either start preparing them straight away (chitting) or store them until you have the time. To save them for later, you will need to find a cool, dark place but make sure they don't freeze. After a couple of weeks of chitting, the tubers should have started to sprout. What you need is three or four short, green and purple shoots about 2.5cm (1") long. If you have too many, "rub" off the excess shoots as this will concentrate the growth into large potatoes. If you're in a cold location, first early potatoes can happily grow in containers, greenhouses, and polytunnels. Some varieties such as 'Rocket' and 'Jazzy' have been developed specifically for this purpose. Plant them outside about 12.5cm deep and 60cm apart, when the soil is around 5°C but be prepared to cover with fleece or old carpet if we get a late frost.
Common problems with First Early Potatoes
Can be attacked by aphids, capsid bug, Rosy rustic moth and wireworms. They can also suffer from Dry-rot, gangrene, grey mould, leaf roll virus, potato mosaic virus, potato powdery scab, potato scab, potato spraing, powdery scab, soft rot, wart disease.
First Early Potatoes Companion Plants
Sweetcorn, eggplant, beans, peas, strawberries, peppers
How to harvest First Early Potatoes
Normally ready 12 -16 weeks after planting, they can go floury if left in the ground too long. Best eaten as soon as harvested.
How to propagate First Early Potatoes
In January or February chit seed potatoes in a cool light room (10C), When the ground is 50C (March/April) tubers can be planted in trenches 12.5cm deep and space tubers 60cm apart.
Special features of First Early Potatoes
For the best results grow in ground that has not been used for potatoes in the last two years.
Can be grown in large containers or potato bags.
Other uses of First Early Potatoes
Floury potatoes tend to break up when boiled so they are more suited to being roasted, baked and for making chips. They also suit being used for mash.