Gardeners’ World: Monty Don shares advice on planting potatoes
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Monty Don returned for the fourth instalment of the 2022 series of Gardeners’ World. The lead host of the programme shared how to plant all types of potatoes – whether they’re earlies, second earlies, maincrop or chitted potatoes. Monty said: “Now we’re in April, it’s time to plant potatoes and as soon as the soil is not cold to touch, then they’ll grow.”
The 66-year-old said with earlier varieties of potatoes – known as first or second earlies – the sooner they’re planted in the ground, the quicker gardeners can harvest them.
For those who have chitted their potatoes, they will grow faster.
Chitting a potato is simply when gardeners leave the seed potato to sprout before they’re planted.
Monty explained further: “You take a seed potato and you put it somewhere, frost free, but light.
“I put these on a windowsill four weeks ago and you can see they develop these stubby shoots ready to burst into growth.
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“So by getting the shoots growing, that gives us – with early potatoes – up to 10 days earlier harvest.”
The gardening expert had chitted a variety called “Charlotte” which he said he “loved”.
He continued: “But whether they’re earlies, second earlies, maincrop, you’ve chitted them or not, the technique is still the same.
“If you grow them on a raised bed, you just make a hole with a dibber and bury them.
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“The traditional method which I’m going to do here is to grow them in trenches or furrows.”
Monty drew back the soil and created trenches for the potatoes to grow.
For those without specialist tools, gardeners can use a spade.
Along the centre of the trench, Monty spread some compost.
Potatoes are known for being “hungry” which means they will respond to goodness gardeners give them.
When planting potatoes, Monty explained that spacing is key to getting the “ultimate crop”.
He said: “When you’re planting potatoes, the spacing will have a lot to do with the ultimate crop.
“The wider apart they’re spaced, the bigger the individual tubers will be.
‘Now obviously with early potatoes, you don’t want great big ones so they can be planted closer – about a foot apart with the chitting shoots facing up.”
Gardeners need to make sure potatoes remain covered as they can push soil upwards.
If emerging tubers get exposed to light, they turn green which is poisonous.
“So at all times and until you harvest them, you want to keep them in the dark underground,” Monty added.
Gardeners’ World is available to stream on BBC iPlayer
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