All About: Seed Potatoes

Chitting Seed Potatoes
Seed Potatoes
What are seed potatoes?

Seed potatoes are tubers that can be planted in a vegetable plot or in containers depending on the variety, to produce a crop of harvestable potatoes. Easy to grow and with a myriad of choices available, all diverse in size, texture and flavour, there is satisfaction to be found in growing your own.

First Early, Second Early or Main Crop?

First and second early seed potatoes tend to produce what are known as ‘new potatoes’, and crop in the early summer months. The plants are often smaller than the main crop varieties, which makes them a suitable choice for small gardens or for growing in containers.

Main crop seed potatoes crop in late summer to autumn and tend to produce much larger potatoes with greater yields due to them being in the ground for longer. It is these varieties that have the longest storage life and will take up the most space in the garden.

How should I select my seed potatoes?

Seed potatoes are available in a wide variety, much greater than what you could expect to find at your average supermarket, so there is opportunity to experiment, and be more selective depending on your requirements. Flavour, yields, resistance to disease, cropping time and suitability for different methods of cooking will all vary from potato to potato, so if you are having difficulty choosing, take a moment to decide on your ‘must-have’ factors, and find a variety that will cover most if not all of them.


It is possible to begin growing first and second early seed potatoes before they are planted through a process called ‘chitting’. Once you have purchased your seed potatoes around early February, use a seed tray lined with brown paper (an excellent way to recycle your Burford brown paper shopping bags), to position your seed potatoes ‘eye-side up’ and wait for them to produce their green shoots.

Around March/April when the soil has warmed, plant your seed potatoes with the shoots facing upward in a trench sprinkled with fertiliser or with fresh compost, leaving around half a metre between each row.

Chitting Seed Potatoes

Chitting Seed Potatoes

Planting Seed Potatoes

Planting Seed Potatoes


As the shoots appear from the ground throughout spring and summer, mound them up on either side with a ridge of soil, leaving just the tallest part of the plant visible. This will help the growing potatoes to develop and protect them from sunlight which will turn them green and poisonous. Continue to do this until the end of the growing season, when you should have a medium sized mound. Keep well-watered and remember to protect from frost.


Potatoes are harvestable at different times depending on if they are earlies or main crops. First earlies should be ready come June and July, second earlies in July and August, and main crops from August into the autumn. When you are ready to harvest, lift the potatoes from the ground with a garden fork, taking care not to spear any in the process. If you are growing in a container, simply empty the contents and pick out the tubers. Remember to discard any green potatoes, as these can be poisonous. Eat your earlies as soon as possible for the best taste, but you can store your main crop potatoes in a cool, frost free area in hessian bags or trays until early spring.