Now is the time for stocking up on seed potato tubers, ready to start chitting from February onwards. Choose a mixture of first earlies, second earlies and maincrops to stagger your harvest. First earlies are dug up from June onwards, and have a superb, delicate flavour – mouthwatering steamed with melted butter and topped with a sprig of mint. Reliable, fast-maturing second earlies keep you well-fed all summer, while maincrops bulk up ready for storing through winter.
There are now hundreds of different potato varieties to choose from. Curious old heritage types are making a comeback: try knobbly, flavour-packed 'Pink Fir Apple' or black-skinned 'Shetland Black'. Modern varieties are often bred for disease resistance: the 'Sarpo' range show really good tolerance of blight – a real problem in our recent wet summers.
New potatoes are spaced one every 30cm apart, second earlies about 40cm apart and maincrops need 45cm between each seed potato, so work out how many you need to buy to fit the space you have available. If you're short of room, you can always try growing them in special potato sacks, available in your favourite garden centre: just plant two or three potatoes to each sack and earth them up as they grow.