Potatoes, Charlotte – Growing for Christmas Potatoes

Seed potatoes can be planted in July and August in order to give a harvest at Christmas. This most recent tradition sees gardeners digging up potatoes on Christmas Eve or the morning of Christmas Day to get the freshest spuds for the festive table.

The trick is to use any of the 2nd Early varieties. Unlike their Spring planted cousins, Summer planted potatoes don’t need to be chitted, they can planted directly into container bags or the open ground.

Plant 15in (37cm) apart with 2ft (60cm) between each row at a depth of 4in (10cm) deep. When the shoots start appearing draw the surrounding soil over the leaves so you can just set the first set of leaves poking through – this process is called ‘earthing up’. Repeat this progress again in 3 weeks. This helps to keep the tubers from being exposed to sunlight and turning green. Green potatoes are poisonous and should not be eaten.

The main advantage to growing in containers if the freedom to move these indoors to a sheltered spot if frost is forecast. You will have to keep on top of the watering and make sure the pot doesn’t dry out in late Summer. Use a container no smaller than 1ft (30cm) in diameter, placing one seed potato in the middle 4in (10cm) deep into the soil. If your container is 2ft (75cm) use 3 potatoes. Earth-up the potatoes as they grow until the pot is full of compost.

The variety I’m growing this year is Charlotte which has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit – this tells me it is the best of the 2nd Early potatoes. This year I purchased my seed potatoes from Patch Seed Potatoes for £6.99 for 10 tubers. They describe Charlotte as…

“Full of flavour whether you eat it hot or cold. Charlotte tubers have creamy yellow flesh, firm and waxy, with yellow skin – perfect for salads and boiling. Very good levels of foliage and tuber blight resistance.”

Later in the season, depending on weather, this crop will need some form of protection from frost. This can be done using garden fleece or straw but I’ll talk more about that when the time comes.

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