WHEN TO PLANT FOR CHRISTMAS POTATOES
The first thing to understand about growing potatoes in
containers (and in the open ground) is that the temperature
in August to October is likely to be higher compared to the
normal planting time of March / April. We grew potatoes for
Christmas last year and were astonished at the effect this
higher temperature has on the potato plant. It grows much
faster and the the potatoes form much quicker than is
normally the case.
Our "Christmas" potatoes were ready for
harvest in mid October from an early August sowing. So we
now recommend planting your potatoes in their containers
August to early September. The first ones will still be
ready early but some should still be harvestable
WHICH VARIETIES AND HOW TO OBTAIN THEM
Recently some of the large seed companies have started to
supply seed potatoes in July for an August sowing so this is
one source for your seed potatoes. You need to order early
though because they soon run out of stock.
The selection of varieties is rather poor at this time of
year from the seed companies. Specialist seed potato
companies such as
Potatoes offer a larger choice and don't run out of
stock quite so quick. We use them for all our seed potatoes
at whatever time of year and can fully recommend them.
Quality is tip top, cost is very reasonable and delivery
times are excellent.
But wherever you try to buy seed potatoes from in July /
August, the cost will be higher than at normal times and the
choice not as good. We get round this problem by buying more
seed potatoes than we require in March / April and store
some of them until we need them in August. By doing this we
keep the cost (and the delivery costs) to the minimum but
have the maximum choice of varieties.
We store them in brown paper (paper bags will do fine) in
the coolest room of the house. Before storing them pick off
any sprouts. The seed potatoes do begin to shrivel a
bit as the months go on but they are more than good enough
for a late August sowing. This year we will experiment with
storing seed potatoes in the salad compartment of the fridge
and update this article with the results.
HOW TO GROW POTATOES FOR CHRISTMAS
The process is the same as for normal new potatoes grown in
containers. First, don't bother to chit / sprout the
potatoes, the warm temperature make that unnecessary. Simply
plant them in containers at the end of August as normal -
for detailed planting instructions.
Care for them as normal,
click here for
detailed instructions. Check your potatoes for harvesting
around early November. Continue harvesting as and when you
need them. They will keep in the compost of the container
far better than in your kitchen so only harvest as needed.
If a frost threatens, simply move the container to a
frost free position until the danger of frost has passed
then move it back into the open again.