Saturday, 2 February 2013

Seed potatoes

I had a very welcome, and much-anticipated, postal delivery this week:

My seed potatoes arrived. I was glad that they weren't sent during the freezing cold weather we had a short while ago, as in those conditions they might easily have got frosted in transit.

This year I have gone for 8 different varieties, but in small quantities of course, since I don't have a great deal of space. My varieties this year are: Accent, Rocket, Orla, Swift, Lady Christl, Casablanca, Pink Fir Apple and Ratte.

I'm not going to plant any of these for a few weeks yet, but I have laid them out to chit. Newcomers to the world of gardening are always puzzled by "chitting", but it is a simple concept:- you encourage the seed potatoes to produce shoots so that they get a head start when you plant them out. This is particularly valuable if you are growing Earlies, which are traditionally planted as early in the year as weather conditions allow. I have laid mine out in some seed-trays in the garage. The conditions here are the best I can provide. Inside the house I think they would be too warm. In the garage (which is part of the main structure of our house), they will be cooler but definitely frost-free. I have put them near the only window, so hopefully they will get enough light. If I had had the foresight to do so, I would have saved some egg-boxes to put them in, to stand them upright, but unfortunately I didn't!

All but the Ratte were supplied in 5-tuber packs, and the Ratte one was a 20-tuber pack (only because I couldn't find a smaller pack.). I am particularly glad to have Ratte, since I want to make up for a failure I had last year. When we were across in France in August, staying with our daughter, we bought some Ratte potatoes on the local market, and although they were intended for eating straight away, I saved a few and brought them home for planting in the hope of getting some late Autumn potatoes. They put up shoots more or less immediately after planting (in about 3 or 4 days if I remember rightly), but they soon got blight and never produced any new tubers. I suppose I was asking for trouble really, planting them at the height of the blight season. Hopefully I'll manage to get a good crop when I plant at a more sensible time! Ratte is popularly reckoned to be a very tasty "gourment-quality" spud, so I have great expectations.

Ratte is usually a long, thin potato - but evidently not always!

I always grow my potatoes in pots these days, simply because I want to use my raised beds for other crops. Having the potatoes in pots also makes them mobile, so that you can put them under cover if frost threatens but you can also put them out in the sunshine whenever the opportunity arises. Some of these will probably go into those "8 for 99p" pots I bought at Morrison's last weekend.


  1. Our seed potatoes have arrived too.

  2. We grew Ratte season before last and loved the flavour, we hope that when you retire you will have time to remember egg boxes

  3. Now I wish I brought back a variety of seed potato back with me to try to grow them here in Malaysia.

  4. It's always good to set the seed potatoes out to chit, the turning point of the year. Good selection as well, I still have some small PFA from last year that I may try to replant.

  5. I haven't got all of mine yet. I had a great harvest of Pink Fir Apple in 2011, but a really rubbish one last year. They are probably my favourite potato.

  6. I don't grow potatoes anymore, but they would never send us seed potatoes until at least April. Too much of a chance of getting frozen.

  7. A good selection there. I'm a fan of growing spuds in containers. Even though I've got an allotment, mine will still be grown in pots, they come out much cleaner this way too without damage. I'm hoping to get some growing early, I'll put the container in the greenhouse until the risk of frost has gone, though I think it's still too early yet.

  8. How far out are you from putting them out?


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