[Music] The humble potato – humble maybe, but it’s
undoubtedly one of our very favorite vegetables to grow, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying
as unearthing those tantalizing tubers! There are a number of ways you can grow them,
each with its own specific advantages. In this video, we’ll look at four different techniques
so you’re primed and ready to plant your own. The traditional, and arguably most productive way
to grow potatoes is in parallel rows. This makes them easy to ‘hill’ or ‘earth up’ as they grow,
using any combination of the surrounding soil and organic matter such as dried leaves,
well rotted manure, or grass clippings. Sprout, or ‘chit’ your seed potatoes somewhere
cool and airy before planting to give your potatoes a head start –
they’ll produce a bigger crop in return. Plant them in a sunny spot into soil that’s been enriched
with plenty of garden compost or well rotted manure. Here I’m going a step further by adding
some pelleted chicken manure into the bottom of the planting trench, which
I’ll tickle in before planting. All those organic nutrients will help to really
nourish these hungry plants. You could of course use any other slow-release
organic fertilizer. Set the seed potatoes about a foot (30cm) apart
in rows one and a half to two foot (45-60cm) apart, depending on variety. Plant so that the shoots face upwards. If your soil is nice and loose, you may find it easier
simply to dig a hole for each seed potato. Hilling increases the amount of growing medium around
the roots, so there’s more space for the tubers to grow. It prevents any that grow near
the surface from turning green too. Start hilling once the shoots are up to your ankle,
then continue drawing up or laying down material every few weeks until the soil has filled out
between the rows, or you can hill no more. A variation on traditional planting methods is to simply
lay your sprouted potatoes on the soil surface before covering with compost, dried leaves, hay or straw. If you’d like to use hay or straw, then check with your supplier first that there’s no risk of any herbicide residues lurking within it. Nestle the potatoes into the ground like this, then cover with a deep layer of organic
matter about eight inches (20cm) thick. If you’re using straw or hay, you’ll need to
initially weigh it down – sticks work well. The hay will soon settle down though,
creating a mass of material that locks out weeds while keeping the roots nice and cool. Potato shoots are very robust and will have no
problem pushing through. There’s no need to hill – when the potatoes are ready,
simply pull back the now partially decomposed organic matter to reveal the
tubers beneath. Who doesn’t love cheating the seasons to get an extra early crop? If you’ve got the protection of a greenhouse, hoop house or even a cold frame, you can! Set your sprouted seed potatoes into generous sized
tubs or sacks like this. That way you can plant them up to three weeks earlier
than you can outside, so long as you can guarantee they’ll be safe from frost. Choose early varieties if you’d like to try this method. Pop them onto a 4-inch (10cm) layer of potting soil,
then cover to a similar depth. They’re
easily hilled up – just add more potting soil every time the foliage reaches
about 6inches (15cm) high, and keep on going till you reach the top
of the sack. Once the weather’s warmed up outside you
can move the sacks outdoors to finish growing. This method works best in cooler
climates where the roots won’t overheat, as this will signal to the plant to stop
producing tubers. Growing in containers or sacks also works well at the
other end of the growing season. Plant your potatoes in late summer, then bring them
undercover as the weather cools down to grow on. This way you can enjoy a really
late crop to enjoy throughout the autumn. In milder climates there’s no reason you can’t
enjoy your own potatoes even in the depths of winter. Pick a maincrop variety to plant in late spring. When the foliage starts to die back, cut the stems
to the ground and leave them be. Then you can simply dig them up at your
convenience. They should store in the ground
until the second half of winter. Early potatoes, late potatoes, or just lots of potatoes –
I hope we’ve given you a few ideas to get started! If you use a different method for
growing your potatoes, then please do tell us about it
in the comments section below. And with spring upon us, the growing
season begins in earnest! Make sure you don’t miss a trick – subscribe to our
video channel and you’ll get all the latest gardening inspiration and harvest- boosting tips. I’ll catch you next time. [Music]