Potatoes may not seem like a very exciting crop to grow in the garden, however, the humble potato is simple to grow and provides abundant yields that can be stored all winter long. In order to grow them correctly, there are a few common mistakes when planting this vegetable to be aware of to avoid severely reducing yields by “destroying” the whole crop. For those who want to grow abundance of potatoes for summer, gardening expert Fiona Jenkins at myjobquote.co.uk has shared what should be avoided.
1. Planting potatoes that have not been chitted
Forgetting to chit seed potatoes is the “most common” beginner gardener mistake.
Fiona explained that chitting is where gardeners sit the seed potatoes in a sunny, indoor spot and let the shoots start to appear before planting them outside.
“This gives the plants a head start during the spring when the weather isn’t as predictable.”
Gardeners may have noticed shoots appear if they’ve ever had potatoes accidentally sprout in their pantry. These are arguably the most important part of the seed potato.
Seed potatoes are technically clones of a mother potato plant. When planted, they grow into new potato plants that produce an abundance of tubers.
However, the expert assured: “Skipping this step doesn’t mean your potatoes won’t grow, you may just have to wait a little longer for your crop and it may not be as bountiful.”
Not everyone has room on their windowsill for chitting, if that’s the case, grow “maincrop” potatoes later in the season as these don’t need chitting.
2. Planting potatoes in the same spot
Planting potatoes in the same place each year with the same soil should be avoided as it increases the chance of pests and diseases.
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Fiona said: “One of the most common issues is potato blight, which is a fungus that can destroy your whole potato crop.
“Should you spot dark patches appearing on your leaves, remove the foliage immediately and dispose of it in your garden bin. This should stop it from spreading.”
In the future, the expert advised rotating the crops to minimise the chance of them appearing and spacing the plants further apart to stop them from spreading.
As blight loves wet conditions, be sure to water your plants early in the morning. This is so that excess water evaporates in the sun.
Gardeners should also make sure the soil is well-draining, so the ground doesn’t become water-logged after heavy rain.
Another reason why potatoes should not be planted in the same spot is because they will not receive sufficient nutrients.
When potatoes are growing, they take a lot of nutrients from the soil which is why it’s important to replenish the soil with new nutrients before planting potatoes in the same place again.
If gardeners don’t do this, the potato plants will not have everything they need to grow and thrive.
3. Not earthing-up potatoes
According to the gardening expert, not earthing up your potatoes should be avoided as it leads to frost-damaged tips and stunted stems under the ground.
Earthing up means drawing up soil around the stems as potatoes grow with the purpose to protect shoots from frost damage in late spring and ensure the developing potatoes aren’t exposed to light, which turns them green and inedible.
Fiona added: “It can also allow sunlight to turn tubers green, making your crop inedible due to their toxicity.
“To avoid this problem, check your potato plants every week for new shoots and build up the soil or compost around each one.”
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