All I Want For Christmas...
Kitchen Garden|September 2020
All I Want For Christmas...
You might be thinking it's a bit early to talk about Christmas - not so, says Rob Smith. Get your potatoes planted right now for a Christmas Day harvest
Rob Smith

I’d challenge you to find anyone who tends an allotment/veg garden who hasn’t grown potatoes before! In fact, I’d say that potatoes have to be one of the staple crops of the Great British allotment, with many growers debating the merits/problems with ‘chitting’ their tubers, how they prepare the ground and how to get the best harvest. Yet when you mention second cropping potatoes and the fact you can plant two crops a year, many gardeners won’t believe it or they will look at you as if you’re talking in a foreign language! Second cropping potatoes are also known as

‘Christmas’ potatoes due to the fact you can harvest your own home-grown ‘new potatoes’ on Christmas Day with a little care and know-how, perfect to brag about to family and friends when you wander into the garden on Christmas Day and come back in with a bowl of beautiful, small potatoes ready for Christmas Day lunch. That said, second cropping potatoes aren’t just for Christmas, they can be harvested from around October-December and only take a few months to grow, normally planted in late June-August – and they’re pretty easy!

CONTAINER GROWING

When it comes to growing second cropping potatoes, location is the key factor to success, with what you grow your plants in being the most important question. With regular spring planting potatoes most people grow them in the ground or raised beds, with the minority growing in potato bags or containers, whereas second cropping potatoes produce a better crop when they can be moved around in containers; this is due to several factors: weather, warmth and disease.

CONTAINERS: are easier to move around and can be insulated against bad weather, plus they can easily be covered with cloches or moved into a greenhouse, tunnel or even a porch if bad weather or frost are predicted.

WARMTH: plants will grow with more vigour and produce better and bigger crops if grown in the warmest location you have, be it against a south-facing wall, on a patio or in an unheated greenhouse where the temperature will always be higher than outside.

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September 2020