How to Grow Potatoes for Christmas Dinner!!!!
Updated: Jul 27, 2020
Yes it is possible! Now is the perfect time to plant winter potato seeds so you can have your own fish homegrown spuds on your plate at Christmas - make the neighbours jealous ;)
Potatoes harvested in summer require a period of dormancy before they can be used as seed potatoes, so replanting these straight away won’t work. You can try placing theme in the fridge for a few weeks first to overcome this, but time is running out!
So how is it possible?
Using winter seed potatoes!
These are seed potatoes that have been in cold storage all spring to delay their growth and taken out in summer so that they are ready to start their 12 to 14 week plant-to-harvest cycle. This means that, with a little planning, you can plant a potato in August to harvest for Christmas Day!
You don't need to chit these potatoes, but you can if you want to.
How to grow potatoes indoors for Christmas harvests
Use a container at least 30cm (1ft) deep and wide, with drainage holes in the base
Add a layer of potting compost or garden soil mixed with garden compost or well-rotted manure. A layer 10cm (4in) thick is sufficient for 30cm (1ft) deep pots, but larger containers can be half-filled.
Plant one to three tubers per pot, each with about 30cm (1ft) of space, and cover with 15cm (6in) of compost or soil.
As the foliage develops, earth up the potatoes with further compost or soil until the container is full to within 5cm (2in) of the top. Leave a lip to aid watering.
Keep well-watered and feed with a general-purpose liquid fertiliser.
Ensure the greenhouse or polytunnel remains frost-free as the season progresses, as potato foliage would be damaged by frost.
The foliage will yellow and die down in late autumn and can then be removed and composted.
Tubers can be left in their pots in compost (kept fairly dry) until needed at Christmas.
How to grow potatoes outdoors for Christmas harvests
Follow general instructions for growing potatoes, including planting them in a trench and earthing them up as they begin to grow.
Take measures to protect against potato blight and slugs.
Once foliage dies down in September or October, remove and compost it.
On light soils in a sheltered garden, piling some earth up over the row where you know the potatoes are and covering it with straw to insulate tubers may be sufficient protection to store them in the ground until Christmas.
In cold areas, or where soils are wet and heavy, it is better to lift tubers by the end of October and re-bury them in coarse sand or soil in a frost-free place (such as a garden shed) until you need them.
Lifting and storing potatoes in the fridge, or in bags in a cool shed, is possible but will cause the skins to harden and the desirable, delicate ‘new-potato’ flavour and texture will be lost.
Potatoes are prone to scab and a number of rots but this can usually be avoided when they are grown in fresh compost in containers
Slugs and snails can damage foliage, stems and tubers underground
Potatoes grown outside in summer and autumn are especially prone to potato blight. Those in containers indoors are not usually at risk
Keep an eye on the weather forecasts as early frosts will blacken foliage and weaken plants; fleece protection may be needed for outdoor crops.