Potatoes do best in a sunny position on fertile and well-drained soil.
Avoid planting in the same position each year as this increases the risk of disease. Ideally use a 4-year crop rotation cycle.
Prepare the soil by removing weeds and stones and then dig in plenty of well-rotted organic material (manure and/or compost).
Planting times are dependent on weather, soil conditions, regional variations and the type of potato. Generally speaking plant March to late May. First earlies to start with, followed by second earlies and then early and late main crop varieties.
• First Earlies – plant 12 inches apart in rows 2 feet apart
• Second Earlies – plant 15 inches apart in rows 2 feet apart
• Maincrop – plant 18 inches apart in rows 2.5 feet apart
Potatoes should be ‘earthed-up’ as the shoots emerge from the ground to protect them from frost, which will blacken the shoots and slow growth. Draw soil over the top of the plant with a hoe.
It’s a good idea to earth-up the plants again when the stems are about 9-12 inches above ground as this will prevent potatoes near the surface of the soil turning green and also helps stop spores from any blight (a disease affecting potatoes – brownish black spots appear on leaves and stems) being washed into the soil and affecting the tubers.
Tubers exposed to sunlight will turn green. Don’t eat green potatoes – they contain a toxic alkaloid, which can cause vomiting and stomach upsets. The leaves and tomato like fruits are also poisonous.