Our Seed  Potatoes are now in stock! Let’s plant!

Potatoes are mainly planted in spring, over several weeks, according to the type of variety:

  • First earlies – plant around late March
  • Second earlies – plant in early to mid-April
  • Maincrops – plant in mid- to late April

The timing also depends on where you are in the country – plant slightly later in colder regions and earlier in milder ones.

Planting options

To grow an extra early crop – plant chitted seed potatoes of early varieties at the beginning of March, into large containers in a frost-free greenhouse. Keep them indoors in good light for a crop by about mid-May.

To grow a winter (or Christmas) crop – plant prepared (cold-stored) tubers in July or early August, into containers in a greenhouse or similar frost-free location. Keeping them indoors also protects them from blight.

Potatoes need an open, sunny growing site, not prone to late frosts, as the young shoots are susceptible to frost damage in April and May. They like rich, fertile soil, so before planting, dig in plenty of organic matter, such as garden compost or well-rotted manure, especially if your soil is light – see our guide to soil types. If possible, do this the previous autumn or winter. Also apply a general-purpose fertiliser.

To plant, dig a trench 15cm (6in) deep, place the seed potatoes along the base with the sprouts upwards, then cover with at least 2.5cm (1in) of soil and water well. Alternatively, you can dig individual holes for each tuber.

  • Earlies – plant 30cm (1ft) apart, in rows 60cm (2ft) apart
  • Maincrops – plant 37cm (15in) apart, in rows 75cm (30in) apart

Handle seed potatoes gently, taking care not to damage the shoots, especially when covering them with soil.

Alternatively, you can grow potatoes under black polythene sheets. The crop forms just below the surface in the dark, so there’s no need to earth up the plants (see below). Harvesting is also easier, with little or no digging required.

Take care to grow potatoes in a different location each year, to avoid any build-up of potato pests and diseases in the soil.

If you don’t have space in the ground, you can grow potatoes in large containers, where they’ll produce a modest but valuable crop. Early varieties are the most suitable, as the plants are smaller and mature more quickly.

Choose a container at least 30cm (12in) wide and deep, and half-fill with 15cm (6in) of multi-purpose compost. Plant one seed potato per 30cm (12in) of pot diameter, setting them just below the surface. Once shoots start to appear, add more compost gradually as they grow, until the container is full.

If the container can be kept in a frost-free location, this is a good way to get an early batch of new potatoes or a very late crop in winter.

Potato plants need ‘earthing up’ – this means drawing up soil around the stems as they grow – to protect shoots from frost damage in late spring and ensure the developing potatoes aren’t exposed to light, which turns them green and inedible.

It’s a simple process – once the shoots are about 23cm (9in) tall, mound soil up around them to form a ridge along the row, leaving just the top 10cm (4in) of the plants visible. As the stems grow taller, repeat the process several times, a few weeks apart. The final height of the ridge should be 20–30cm (8–12in).

It’s a similar process for plants in containers. From half-full at planting time, gradually add more potting compost as the stems grow, until the surface ends up just below the pot rim.

When growing potatoes under black polythene sheeting, there is no need for earthing up.


To ensure a good crop, keep potato plants well watered in dry weather – particularly early on, when the tubers are starting to form.

Potatoes in containers need regular and generous watering throughout the growing season, especially if kept in a greenhouse. Even outdoors, the dense foliage will prevent rainwater reaching the compost, so water even during wet weather to make sure you get a decent harvest.

Browse our extensive range of seed potatoes, they’ll soon be available to buy online too!