I am one of those people who does not like to spend too long in the kitchen preparing food to store it and would rather explore how I can grow and harvest crops throughout the year.  I have managed this with carrots, leeks and beetroot, and this year with fennel as well. It is all about when you sow the seed and how well they can sit out the winter. Fennel, for example, will only survive the winter under cover but does so very well.  Last week, I found a bag of forgotten potatoes all sprouting and a few rotting at the back of my shed at home and it started me wondering whether there was a way to grow potatoes so that you could harvest them all year round and it turns out that there is!

Harvesting potatoes out of season is already a 'thing' as many people plant left over potatoes late summer to obtain a crop for Christmas day. What I want to know is, can you harvest potatoes after Christmas day?

This post is a sharing of resources that I found on my investigations in all things potato in case anyone else would like to try something different. Growing potatoes in pots, growing very early potatoes, growing very late potatoes, growing sweet potatoes and creating your own sweet potato slips.

If you are new to growing potatoes then one of the best sites is Garden Focused. It provides a quick overview of what to do and then if you scroll down, it goes into more detail with links to particular techniques. What I like best about this website is the fact that in the right-hand corner you can set your location so that the timings are specific to you. If you are a no-digger, this video will explain how to grow them without digging.

If you are interested in growing some potatoes in pots then this video from Simplify Gardening is a good starting point. I think I might grow some very early and very late potatoes in pots so that I can move them in and out of the greenhouse depending on the weather.

What I took from this video was:

  • the size of pot 
  • burying the pot into wood chippings/soil to keep a more even temperature and to allow the roots to explore out of the pot. It also meant that the lack of watering wasn't an issue.

I wondered if I planted potatoes in pots in summer, could I put them in the polytunnel late autumn and harvest a pot a week over the next few  months?

Then I found Steve's Seaside Allotment and he is in the process of writing a book Effortless Self -Sufficiency about how to grow vegetables all year round. His chapter on potatoes (click on the title of the book to see it) is written and he focuses on getting really early and very late potatoes. His video also explains how he goes about the process.

I have chitted some potatoes left over from last year and am ready to plant them. I have Charlotte and I can put 4 (2 layers of 2 tubers) of those in a pot and Sarpo Mira which I can put 2 into each pot. This is because of the type of growth that they have. Charlotte is a determinate variety and so will grow in a layer just above the seed potato and the Sarpo are indeterminate and will grow all the way up the stem at every level in the soil and so need the room.  This is why some potatoes need more earthing up than others.

If you are interested in growing sweet potatoes, they really grow best undercover unless it is a hot year. Again, Garden Focused has clear advice about type of potato and timings for planting. I grow them in the polytunnel every now and then and get variable results. They are in the ground for a long time and the plants are large, sending their leaves all over the place. They can be tied up to reduce the amount of space they take up and they need much more water and feed than tomatoes.  This article from Which? gives good advice although you can't see the varieties they recommend unless you subscribe. (It's Beauregard, Beauregard Improved and Carolina Ruby!)

If you want to grow your own sweet potato slips then this video shows you how. And now is the time to do it!  I would be tempted to buy the slips the first year and then grow my own slips after that from potatoes that provided a good crop. I am not sure whether the ones in the supermarket will grow in our conditions or prefer the glasshouses of southern Spain in the summer

For a list of all things to do this month, click here.