Plant seed potatoes now in potato sacks so you can harvest fresh, home-grown spuds for your Christmas dinner!
Although in the middle of summer the last thing you’ll be thinking about is Christmas, it’s worth tearing yourself away from the garden just for a second to do a little advance festive planning.
Now is the time to plant the roasties to be sure of a good crop by December 25, and we’ve got the first supplies of ‘second cropping’ seed potatoes arriving in the garden centre here in Poynings right now along with potato sacks, feed and compost to get you started.
‘Second cropping’ varieties have been held back artificially in cold storage to prevent them sprouting until later in the season. They’re usually first early or second early types, which mature more quickly: the classic variety is 'Carlingford' but these days you can get many of your favourite spuds as second croppers, including 'Charlotte', 'Maris Peer' and 'Casablanca'.
You can plant them right away, as soon as you get them home; if you’re worried about getting the timing right, just plant a second batch next month as well so at least one is ready on the big day.
Growing Christmas spuds outdoors gives better yields, but you'll need a frost-free autumn. It’s usually better to grow them in large containers or sacks which you can move under cover when it turns cold.
Fill an inside-out compost sack or potato sack a third deep with multi-purpose compost and lay three seed potatoes on top. Then simply fill the whole sack to the top - recent trials have shown earthing up gradually makes no difference to yields of container-grown potatoes. Keep frost-free and water copiously adding a liquid seaweed feed to the can every fortnight, and you should be tipping out a bumper crop on Christmas morning.