When choosing seed potatoes for the vegetable garden, determining what seed to buy is a difficult task. Here are ten factors to take into consideration:
1. How many potatoes do you normally use? Do you cook potatoes every day or once a week? It is a shame to fill the garden with more than you can possibly eat!
2. How much space is there in the vegetable garden for potatoes? Think about the other vegetables you are hoping to grow, and work out how long the potatoes will be taking up their allotted patch. Perhaps other vegetables should take precedent over potatoes? Check out this article which gives planting distances for seed potatoes.
3. Look at your diary and note the time that you will be away from home. If you are on holiday for two weeks in early June, you will not need early potatoes for those two weeks.
4. Would you like to store some main crop potatoes over the winter? Do you have space to store them, and the right conditions?
5. Are you an experienced potato grower? If not, don’t jump in at the deep end and grow masses of potatoes, of different varieties etc - it could be overwhelming and put you off gardening for ever. There is nothing like success to give a sense of achievement, so if you have never grown potatoes before, just try a few, and spend time looking after them and learning how they grow.
6. Calculate how many seed potatoes to buy, bearing in mind the above points. Work out how many early potatoes you would like, and how many main crop potatoes it is sensible to grow.
7. How do you like your potatoes cooked? Mashed potatoes tend to be more floury than salad potatoes which are waxy. Bakers need to be larger than salad potatoes, and some varieties are particularly good for chips! Do you like to ring the changes - and try several different sorts of potato, or do you prefer to keep it simple and just grow two varieties?
Click on the image below to enlarge a chart showing the character of the most popular varieties.
8. Choose the early varieties and main crop varieties that will give you the characteristics needed to satisfy item 7
9. Where will you source your seed potatoes from? The Internet or your local garden center? There are plenty of vegetable seed catalogues to look through for ideas. Whichever you decide, it is important to buy certified seed.
10. February and March is the time to buy seed potatoes in the UK. This will give them plenty of time to chit. Give it lots of thought Like all these things there is a large amount of trial and error and often you will find yourself constantly changing up your numbers and gauging the ratio of potato varieties to plant in the vegetable garden. The more you think about your reasoning behind your selection of potato variety, the easier your choice will become.