Its that time of the year again when thousands of seed potatoes start appearing in Nursery's, Garden Centre's and Hard ware stores. There are also the many potato days taking place up and down the country where there is generally a much wider range of variety's on offer.
A good website to find a Potato Day near you is http://www.potatoday.org/potatodays.htm there are still plenty to go too up until mid March. But when faced with such an array of spuds which ones do you choose lets start with different types 1st Early's or new potatoes as some folk like to call them.
These are the first to plant and the first to harvest They are planted March - April and are ready to harvest in June - July. 1st Early's are also ideal for growing in pots and in a greenhouse / polytunnel for an even earlier crop. They are also less likely to get potato blight as you are harvesting before it becomes a problem.
Next is the 2nd Early's plant early to late April they are ready for harvest in July - August .
Then you have the Main crop variety's these are your keeping spuds most will store well through the winter given the wright conditions. plant these late April - early May and they are ready for harvest late August - October depending on the variety.
Then choose what you want to do with them new potatoes, chips, roast, boil store them through the winter etc. Find out what other gardeners are growing in your area an experienced allotmenter will put you straight on whats good and whats not good to grow in your area. I always find that in the first year if you select a small quantity of a few variety's that way you can see what grows best on your soil and also what you prefer to eat Thompson and Morgan also produce a good guide to potato variety selection that you may find helpful.
Some of the best Spuds i have grown are.
Red Duke of York
Pink Fir Apple
Belle De Fontenay
Once you have got your seed potatoes home give them a wash this gets rid of any soil on them and helps reduce the spread of some disease such as scab. Then place them in some seed trays or egg boxes to chit this is where the eyes of the tuber start to grow these are like baby shoots spray weekly with Maxi crop so you get good strong shoots. These seed potatoes should be kept in a light frost free place until you are ready to plant out. What variety's do you all like to grow ?