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Growing Christmas Potatoes
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Growing patios for Christmas is much easier than you might think. You don’t have to enjoy the taste of small potatoes in summer alone. You can grow your own Christmas potatoes at the end of summer/autumn and harvest them in the winter in time for Christmas.
Growing your own Christmas potatoes starts with cold-stored potato tubers which you can find from special seed merchants in the summertime and some will sell them towards late summer for planting to produce potatoes in time for Christmas. These are special seed potatoes that were taken from the winter prior and save specifically so they could be planted in the summer. It is recommended that you pick varieties such as Charlotte or Nicola as these can be placed straight into warm soil and you don’t have to do anything else to prepare them.
Once you get the hang of things if you choose to do this regularly you can hold back your own late-winter tubers in the fridge or leave them in a cool space during the springtime so that you can replant them in in late summer preparation for your winter potatoes.
If in doubt you can always purchase the seed potatoes online or get them from a local nursery or garden centre. These will be a different batch than you will see on sale after Christmas.
How to grow potatoes for Christmas
Plant seed potatoes around August for harvesting in December
It will take about 12 weeks from the time you plant your potatoes until it is time to crop them. They should be planted outside directly in the ground in the middle of summer at which point they will grow and form tubers before Frost hits your area. You can also plant them in August in a frost-free greenhouse or conservatory and still harvest them before Christmas time.
Growing Potatoes Indoors
Choose a large pot with good-sized drainage holes
If you want to grow your potatoes indoors you need a container that is at least thirty centimetres wide and tall maybe even a little bigger. You must have drainage holes at the base so that the water can drain freely, it’s worth noting that a lot of large pots for trees which 20 litres plus are perfect for potatoes but do not have holes so will need to be drilled. There are specific potato growing containers that you can purchase for this purpose as well.
From there you need to add a layer of compost or garden soil and compost at least 10-20cm thick. If you are using a container that’s larger than 30cm in-depth, you can fill it halfway. You should Place one, two, or three tubers per pot, maybe a few more for larger containers. They should be given about 30cm of space so the number you can plant in a container is contingent upon the size of the container you use. Once you replace the tubers in their space you need to cover them with another 15cm of compost.
Once you notice foliage developing, you can earth up your potatoes by adding more compost until the container is filled within 5cm of the top. At this point, you should keep the container well-watered and add liquid fertilizers as necessary. You need to make sure that the indoor greenhouse where you are growing your potatoes is not subject to any frost so its a good idea to use a greenhouse heater with a thermometer and set it to frost stat.
At the end of autumn/winter, the foliage should turn yellow and die at which point you can remove it. You should leave the tubers in their pots of compost but allows the pots to stay dry until Christmas when you can remove them and prepare them.
Growing Christmas Potatoes Outdoors
If you are growing your potatoes outdoors you should plant them in a trench and continue the process of earthing them as they grow. You will want to protect them against slugs or potato blight. In a very similar fashion as growing indoors, once you notice the foliage dying down come September or October it is time to remove it.
You can leave the tubers in the ground until Christmas by adding some straw to provide insulation between the time that the foliage dies down and you are ready to prepare your potatoes. If, however, you live in a particularly wet and cold area it is in your best interest to lift the tubers in October and then reburied them in soil such that they can be stored indoors or in a greenhouse until you are ready to use them.
If you want to store them in the refrigerator or place them in bags you can do that but it will cause the skin to harden and it will take away a bit of that new potato texture.
Whether you are growing indoors or outdoors you need to be prepared to fight diseases and pests. If you are considering growing indoors be aware that heating a greenhouse sufficiently enough for Christmas potatoes can be costly. You don’t want the shock of the new energy bill if you can avoid it.
That said if you are growing them outside, it’s particularly important to prevent snails and slugs from damaging the foliage on top in the tubers below. Growing your potatoes outside in the summer and the autumn leaves them susceptible to potato blight. If grown outdoors, always keep an eye on the weather and provide any additional protection as necessary.