Potato varieties and tips for 2021

Yet again, I am so excited! That seems to be my favourite phrase these days. Don’t laugh when I tell you why though! I’ve chosen the potato varieties that will give us a year’s worth of potatoes from 2021 until the 2022 growing season!! I can’t even imagine what that will physically look like.

I hear you asking, how do you even decide how many you will need? I can only hazard a guess and go from there.

If we buy a 2.5kg bag of potatoes from the supermarket, they will last us 7 to 10 days so that’s maximum of 130kg. Not that much really if you think it’s 6 farm size bags of spuds?

The plan…

In 2021 I will be planting potatoes (and plenty of other things) where the 2020 pigs were, as that land has been well manured and turned over.

Rodney with the young pigs.

The varieties I have chosen are as follows in order of harvest months. The number of tubers ordered are in (brackets).

Everything has been ordered from Thompson and Morgan. Ordering off their website was super easy as always and I love their track and trace system for impatient customers like me πŸ˜‰

Early – Swift (10). This is fast maturing and heavy cropping which means we get to eat sooner and in abundance! These babies will be grown in bags, started in the greenhouse to protect from frosts for harvest in May. The Swift will probably be our first to eat 2021 potatoes! Happy dance!!

First Early – Arran Pilot (10). Closely followed for harvest in May and June, this is a traditional first early which we will eat from plot to plate. As for all first earlies, I’ll make sure we have plenty of salad items to have with these for the first of the year.

Second Early – Charlotte (12). Typical supermarket variety, nice tasting salad potato. In a year where reliability is everything, this is very important for us. We aim to harvest in July and August.

Early Maincrop – Maris Piper (34). This is a reliable all round potato which is purple flowered and has eelworm resistance (not sure if we have that problem, but glad we don’t need to worry now!). This will mostly be blanched and frozen as we will hopefully still be eating second earlies until the Sarpo Mira come through. This will be the main preserving potato. Harvesting for preserving (freezing) in one batch July, August or September and not for fresh eating. These will then hopefully fill in the gap between the last of the freshly stored potatoes and the following season’s first earlies.

“Did you know…. for a successful storing harvest you should not water for 2 weeks pre harvest (not likely in England!) wait for the foliage to die back, cut it down and wait another 10 days for the skins to dry before lifting, drying briefly in the sun and storing.”

Source – Tracy’s useless bits of info πŸ™‚

Maincrop – Cara (22). This is a good baking potato which I’ve always worried about growing. There’s nothing worse than throwing a whole potato in the Aga, to cut in to it with your baked beans (very British?) and cheddar cheese and discover a hollow heart or similar! I’m going to take the plunge next year though, just call me a dare devil. Harvesting for fresh use in August and September.

Late maincrop – Sarpo Mira (20). Best blight and slug resistance. As we move to later in the season, I start to worry about blight, so a resistance to it is welcome. Combined with large yields and storing potential, this is one that will be eaten fresh and hopefully stored in burlap bags/hessian sacks rather than frozen or dehydrated. Harvesting for use in August and September hopefully once the second earlies run out to store for October.

Late maincrop – King Edward (24). Used for roast potatoes, who could resist the traditional King Edward? As we move in to the cooler months, this will hopefully stay in the ground and/or store until Christmas. We will plant this variety as late as possible in May, spreading the harvest through the year, hopefully September and October to store November and December onwards in burlap bags/hessian sacks.

First earlies take 10-12 weeks to mature

Second earlies – 14 to 16

Early Main – 15 weeks

Maincrop (and late) 22 weeks

Source – Tracy’s useless bits of info πŸ™‚

A few points to note.

  • Our ground has been manured by pigs through 2020 and left to rest over the winter.
  • We will be planting our potatoes in 2 x 75 foot rows.
  • For us, the ideal ph for potatoes and to help deter disease is 4.8 to 5.5.
  • Chitting potatoes early in the year (to apx 3cm) is important to help bring them from their winter slumber and to encourage strong, quick growth.
  • Don’t bother chitting potatoes you get in April time, I recommend getting them straight in to the ground.
  • Your soil needs to be around 10c before planting and will hopefully coincide with 2 weeks before your last frost.
  • It’s best to plant with a helping hand of general purpose fertiliser.
  • Planting potatoes can be done in a variety of ways, however I will be using my tried and tested method of using a bulb planter to plant fairly deeply and then earth them up a few times as they come through.
  • Earthing potatoes helps prevent frost nipping the first shoots and gives the tubers, which grown near the surface, more space (more food!).
  • Earthing up also prevents light turning your much tended potatoes green. We can’t waste all of that time and effort.
  • Watering 2 weeks before flowering and during the tuber bulking stages will help with size and yield. I’ll post on knowing when this is next year, with pics.
  • Harvest as quoted above.
  • Stored potatoes should be in hessian sacks to exclude light and allow the potatoes to breath (they release moisture when in storage and plastic bags will make them rot). Light will turn the potatoes green which could give you a nasty stomach upset.
  • Stored spuds will be kept between 5 and 10c and away from anywhere that mice (or worse) could get to them.
  • At least monthly, stored potatoes should be checked for spoiling. If one crept in to your stores that had blight, it will spread very easily. Smell the potato if you are unsure, blight does not smell appealing, you will know!
  • Keep an eye out for flies being attracted to potatoes (or any veg) as they will know before you what is starting to turn.

So that’s my potato plan for 2021! If anyone knows if you can store your potatoes safely to use as seed potatoes the following year, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading and stay safe everyone, Tracy x

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6 thoughts on “Potato varieties and tips for 2021

  1. You can save potatoes to use to grow potatoes the next year, but won’t be as reliable or possibly as disease free as proper seed potatoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this information, I had guessed this would be the case but I do like to hear when people know themselves! It’s an expensive time to buy new every year, so I can manage to get a few years off one batch from keeping the best then I’ll do that. Cheers! Tracy

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  2. Pingback: Vibrant veg growing blogs | Blog at Thompson & Morgan

  3. Pingback: Can we ever be truly self-sufficient? | bytherfarm.com

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