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When To Start Growing Potatoes

When to plant seed potatoes

Freshly harvested maincrop potatoesPotatoes have a long growing season and with a little crop management their continued production can be easily maintained. It is good practice to understand when to start growing potatoes. Potatoes can be divided into 3 categories, early, second early and maincrop varieties.

The categories are defined by the length of time they take to reach maturity and by preparing and planting according to these characteristics it is possible to have a steady supply of potatoes harvesting from June through to October. First earlies are ready for harvest after 100 days, second earlies can be lifted around 120 days weeks after planting while maincrop can stay in the ground for up to 160 days, producing a much heavier yield of larger potatoes.

Our Seed Potato Range Is Available Here

container grown early potatoesThe first and second early varieties, well suited to container planting, reach maturity before pest and blight can develop in the garden producing small clutches of new potatoes. They generally have thin skin and a delicate texture, traditionally steamed and eaten as a salad potato straight from the garden. The shorter growing period and extra protection provided with container or bag cultivation means the seed potato can be planted earlier in the season resulting in an early harvest and the opportunity for a successive sowing.

Chitting potatoes in egg boxAll varieties benefit from chitting before planting by setting the seed potato in a light, frost free room and allowing shoots to develop. Egg cartons are ideal for this. Chitting should be started about six week before planting and will normally result in bringing the harvesting date forward by 3-4 weeks. The potato is ready for planting when the shoot is 1in/25mm long.

Early potatoes can be planted mid-March with second earlies a few weeks later although planting times will vary throughout the country. More northerly areas should be delayed by up to two to three weeks depending on weather and risk of frost. Maincrop varieties are generally planted in April.

The potato year starts in January when seed is delivered and chitting starts, then remains on the gardening calendar through to the late Autumn harvest. In more temperate climates or by using a polytunnel it is possible to grow a second maincrop, planted in late summer, ready for the table at Christmas.

Click Here For More Information On Seed Potato Varieties


  1. Glenys Parsons

    Every time I plant parsnips they don’t grow as I expected, could you tell me why please, am I planting them to late (April )

    1. Andrew

      April-June is normally a good time to sow parsnips, but they do need a temperature of around 12C. Its helpful to warm the ground beforehand with a cloche.

  2. Margaret Powell

    Good morning Andrew, this year I planted 5 pots of potatoes of which I was so very happy with, having never grown potatoes before. All I did was cut the potatoes up that we had not eaten when they sprouted legs, (some of them were a bit small) I didn’t get a massive harvest but enough not to waste any.
    Now that I am having to buy potatoes again, if I should have any too long that start to sprout, when would be a good time to plant them out?
    I only have a very tiny garden, hence the pots

  3. Steve Brown

    Hiya guys
    I found these blogs useful as I was unsure about what time to leave between 1st earlies 2nd earlies and main crop so got se good information from here
    Cheers guys
    Happy growing
    Steve and cadge
    Allotment growers in Nantwich Cheshire.

    1. Andrew

      Hi Steve
      Thanks you for getting in touch. I am very pleased you find our blogs useful and that we were able to help with potato planting time. I hope you have a great season, don’t hesitate to get in touch if we can assist you further.

  4. Pauline rose

    This is the most clear post I’ve seen on planting potatoes, I have Charlotte’s chitting will be planting soon with king Edwards to follow in april, these will be my first attempt hope it goes well

    1. Andrew

      Hi Pauline. Thank you for your kind words on our post, I am glad you found it helpful. Growing potatoes is easy, I am sure you will do great! Andrew

  5. Russell McSporran

    I bought seed potatoes (jazzy, charlotte and Maris piper) from Quickcrop and kept them in a cool room in the delivery box until this week but when I checked they had already started chitting.
    I’ve now put them out in my polytunnel in trays to chit further/stronger before planting in the next week or so but having read this blog am concerned I might be getting them in the ground a bit too soon.
    1) can I let the shoot continue to chit further or should I get them in the ground at the 25mm stage? The shoots are quite spindly and pale at the moment as have been in the dark.
    I live on the Isle of Skye and was planning to try out the lazy bed approach you detailed in your blog.
    Best regards

    1. Andrew

      Hi Russell. Given weather conditions I would wait until mid-late March to plant. Provided the potatoes are in a bright place the shoots will not grow as quickly as they would in the dark so will likely be fine. It is a little difficult to say as I don’t know the length of the shoots but if they are still relatively short you will have not problems. If they are longer you will need to take extra care when planting them but should be ok. I hope this helps. Andrew

  6. Eimear

    Hi Andrew, this facility to get advice is great! My husband has just cleared a section of the garden for planting potatoes but we are not sure which variety will suit best, we are in NI, high ground, the temperature has been good but we’re still getting a little light frost, what do you suggest? Much appreciated.

  7. Emma

    Is it to late to plant potatoes in next couple of days ? Been reading this and think it might be , never done this before !! ?

  8. Cathy DeRosa

    Good morning

    I have planted potatoes in march but when can I tell that the crop is ready to be harvested

    Thank you

    Cathy DeRosa

    1. Andrew

      Hi Cathy. It depends if they were early or main crop. Earlies should be ready in June/July while maincrop are lifted in September/October.

    1. Andrew

      Hi Adrian. If you can get your hands on seed potatoes you would still be able to grow early varieties (as they are quicker to mature) but you will probably find it hard to get stocks. We will have some varieties at the end of June which have been kept in cold storage and can be planted for a late Autumn harvest. I hope this helps. Andrew

  9. cj carter

    my 6 year old granddaughter planted an old shop bought sprouting Maris piper she found while I was cleaning my cupboard – the plant is now massive and has started to sprout flowers..
    when is a good time for us to dig it up and are they safe to eat if we find any potatoes

    1. Andrew

      Hi CJ. Yes, any potatoes you get will be perfectly safe to eat. It is is flowering make sure it gets plenty of water which will help bulk up potatoes and give your granddaughter more of a thrill! I would leave it until mid July but difficult to be accurate as don’t know where it was planted.

  10. alexander reid

    I planted brest f1 brussels sprout in my greenhouse in March the plants are now about 3ft tall with dandelion looking flowers at the top of plant the plant dose not look like the sprouts I’ve grew before it looks to big at this time of year

  11. deryn

    Hi Andrew,

    Just happened upon this blog and agree your details are really helpful.
    My 1st time too at having a bash at growing potatoes. You mentioned to Adrian you’ll will have some varieties at the end of June which have been kept in cold storage and can be planted for a late Autumn harvest. Does that mean you sell them or you have them and will be using for personal use? or, now garden centres are reopening suggest just purchasing from there ?

    1. Andrew

      Hi Deryn. Yes, we sell them, you will find them in the potato section on our site in a week or so. I hope this helps. Andrew

  12. Roxy

    Hi Andrew,

    I have some potato’s growing quite successfully at the moment- planted in April in pots and was wondering if I’d be able to sow some more in now (end of June) or if it’s far too late?!

    1. Andrew

      Hi Roxy. Yes, you can still plant seed potatoes now that have been held back in cold storage. We have 3 varieties for sale on the site, Charlotte, Nicola and Maris Peer. I hope this helps.

  13. Nat

    I was hoping to plant potatoes next year all year round (when not too cold)
    I was wondering if you can plant first potatoes and also use the seeds for your second crop ( and same with main crop and later main crop?) Can seem to find answers anywhere and need to watch the pennies next year! Many thanks

    1. Andrew

      Hi Nat. Unfortunately you cannot use the potatoes you have grown as seed potatoes in the same year as they need a period of dormancy before sprouting the following year. You can, however keep potatoes produced this year for use as seed potatoes next year.

  14. Di

    Hi i have bought some seed charlotte potatoes and i think iv started too early chitting them for some reason i thought it was 2nd week in jan but reading this blog its 3 week in feb shall i just cover them back up and put them back in shed they have started to break through a little bit too

    1. Andrew

      Hi Di. You will be fine, you can start chitting them in January. Make sure they are in a cool and bright place so the sprouts are short and stubby, you do not want long sprouts as they will break off when you are planting them. I hope this helps. Andrew

  15. Delia Ellard

    Found some ‘ aliens’ trying to get out of a bag in the MH in Feb 2020. It was the potatoes I had taken away for the weekend in Sept 2019.when I had a cycling accident. I planted these very long trailing ‘chits’. With the virtue I couldn’t go far in the van,, but my spuds and tomatoes (from the compost heap) both grewb. In October I had 3 kilos of potatoes, and 3 kilos of Tom’s. Not has for an ‘alien growing in the MH’ and compost soil tomartoe plants

    1. Andrew

      Hi Martin. I would spray from June onwards if the weather is wet, if we have a dry June you can wait until the end of the month. I hope this helps. Andrew

  16. Jan findlay

    I have planted potatoes about 2/3 weeks ago and was wondering how long they take until you see green leaves above the soil

    1. Andrew

      Hi Jan, it normally takes 3-4 weeks when they are planted 10-15cm below the surface so you should start to see them in another week or two. Happy growing!

  17. Kay

    Hi I planted my pots 18th March in bags. I’ve got quite large green leaves, should these be pruned or left to flower? Am I right in thinking that the best time to harvest would be when the leaves turn and flowers fall off? I have 2 types first early and 2 lots of 2nd early can these be harvested at the same time or should first early be done earlier ? Thank you

    1. Andrew

      Hi Kay, great they’re coming on so well. Your first earlies will be ready earlier than your 2nd earlies. First earlies are generally ready to harvest 90 days from planting and 2nd earlies are about 110 days from planting but it may take a little longer this year due to all the frost they’ve had. You are correct about when to harvest but just be aware that some potato varieties don’t flower at all. As you say, when the plant starts to die back and the leaves yellow that’s a good time to harvest. Be sure to keep an eye out for blight spots on the leaves this year. Wishing you a great harvest!

  18. Kay fisher

    Thank you. I harvested the first earlies a few weeks ago and had a few large ones, the very small ones I left attached and replanted carefully. I emptied the same bag again yesterday and the smaller ones had grown (im surprised because I did think that maybe replanting wasnt going to work, i was very careful and it paid off) I will empty out the 2nd batch now that the leaves are beginning to turn yellow. I am finding though, that I need to keep pruning the green leaves they weigh a ton (it looks like a jungle) perhaps this is a silly question, should the leaves be sprayed? These are the maris and charlotte

    1. Andrew

      Hi Kay, delighted to hear you’ve got such a great harvest. Well done! I personally don’t spray for blight but if you do, then yes, you would need to spray the leaves. If you don’t want to spray, keep a close eye for telltale spots on leaves and remove any you see. Your plants may eventually get blight but you can slow the progress of the disease very significantly by removing any infected foliage. Once the disease reaches the point that over half of the plant is infected, cut all the foliage off right down to soil level. You can still leave the tubers in the ground and harvest as needed. If you are cutting foliage back on Maincrop potatoes destined for storage leave the tubers in the ground for at least 2 weeks to avoid infecting them with any blight spores on the surface of the soil. Hope this helps

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