This chapter is for the dedicated potato lover, who wants a plentiful supply of potatoes for every week of the year and is prepared to put in a bit of effort to achieve it. if you just want to do what everyone else does, then stick to then traditional: first earliest, second earliest and main-crop plantings varieties and dates, I recommend Garden Focused for the traditional way of growing.
Potatoes store really well and so with only a little effort it's possible to have a crop all year round. What's more challenging is to have the full range of potatoes: salad, baking, roasting etc every week of the year. In fact baking potatoes are a particular challenge and one that we only solved in 2021. Since potatoes are one of the commercial crops that's most heavily and frequently spayed with with fungicide it's a high priority for us to grow all of our own and all year round.
Early Charlotte baking potatoes in July
This chapter focuses on early and late potatoes, main-crop potatoes are very well documented elsewhere and so I've only briefly described the way I grow them for completeness. Check the links at the end of the chapter for other excellent resources on well established techniques.
As always what works for me, might not work for you, so experiment and find your own way.
There are six main techniques in our armoury for growing year round potatoes and you can pick and choose between them, depending on how much space you have and the type of space. Fundamentally though you need to be able to start your potatoes off early and protect them from the elements.
Potatoes are hungry plants and there are dedicated organic and in-organic fertilisers tuned specially to their needs. These are fine, but many people - including me - have good success with Blood Fish and Bone, others swear by poultry pellets. I generally go for half a handful of BFB per tuber, 2/3 in the root zone and 1/3 in the 6" above the root zone. Blood Fish and Bone is a slow release fertiliser so that's all that should be needed through the plants life. I like to keep life simple, but some people recommend a more complex feeding regime, the best resource I know of is Garden Focused, if you want to review that.
Many people are successful saving last years potatoes and using them as next years seeds, but there's always a possibility of building up disease when you do that. I do both, I save my last bucket of Swift and Charlotte potatoes for seed, but I buy the rest.
The main reason that I save is that I start my super earlies before the seed companies make potatoes available. I like to have mine ready to plant in January, for a harvest in early April.
Regardless of how you source your seed potatoes though, you need to consider how to store them and there are a few options: