This week is British Chip Week (16-22 February) and there is no better way to celebrate the humble potato than by eating freshly cooked, crispy chips, whether they are chunky, thin, crinkly or wedged, add your favourite condiment; tomato sauce, brown sauce, mayonnaise, salad cream or traditional salt and vinegar or cover with gravy, curry sauce, baked beans or cheese and enjoy. Chips are so versatile they are a snack, a meal and can be served with most foods they are delicious, filling and we just can’t get enough of them, in Britain almost 676,000 tonnes of British potatoes are made into fresh chips each year.
If you want to have a go at growing your own potatoes this year, now is the perfect time to get started. Commercially potatoes are grown in fields, in Britain we grow around 14,000 hectares of ‘chip’ potatoes each year, if you don’t have a garden or an allotment potatoes can be grown very easily and successfully in growing bags or containers.
What you will need
- 4/5 Seed Potatoes
- Egg tray/box
- Potato Growing Bag/Container (40 litres or larger)
- Good Quality Multi-purpose Compost
- Watering Can
What you need to do
- Once you get your ‘seed’ potatoes put them into egg trays/boxes with the ‘rose’ end upwards, this is where you might see tiny shoots or the ‘belly button’ end facing downwards and place them in a frost-free light (not sunny) room, this is called chitting and helps the potato to produce strong shoots, which speeds up growing once they are planted, when the shoots are about 2-3cm they are ready to plant.
- Fill your bag with compost to a depth of 10cm
- Place 4/5 seed potatoes, with the shoots facing upwards, on top of your compost equally spaced out so that they don’t touch each other.
- Add another 10 cm layer of good quality potting compost and water well.
- Position the bag somewhere sunny and sheltered, on cold nights cover the bag with protective Fleece to prevent frost damage.
- As the leaves emerge cover with more Compost and repeat until you reach the top of the bag.
- Potatoes need to be kept well watered but not soggy.
- First Early varieties – plant from end of February until end of May, harvest in approx. 10 weeks
- Second Early varieties – plant from March until late May, harvest in approx. 13 weeks
- Early Maincrop varieties – planted from March until late May, harvest in approx. 15 weeks
- Maincrop varieties – plant from March until mid May, harvest in approx. 20 weeks
Why not give it a go children love planting, growing and harvesting potatoes they taste so much better when they are home grown.
So get growing and have some fun