How long do potatoes take to grow?
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Growing potatoes is often one of the first vegetables that gardeners often try to grow. Will with a little help it can be very fulfilling growing your own potatoes and you can’t beat the feeling you get when you lift your first potatoes of the season! You can grow potatoes in pots or in the ground so no matter how much space you have, (even if you only have a balcony) anyone can grow potatoes.
One of the questions many people ask is ‘How long do potatoes take to grow?’
The answer to this question is that it varies depending on which type of seed potato you are growing and how early you grow them.
There are 3 types of seed potatoes you can grow. First Early, as the name suggests, are ready first. Second Early varieties are usually ready a few weeks later and finally Main Crop are the last to be ready but produce a much larger crop.
As a rough guide, the time from planting to harvesting is shown below:
- First early – From planting to harvesting, around 10 weeks.
- Second early – From planting to harvesting, around 15 weeks.
- Main crop – From planting to harvesting, around 20 weeks.
Planting first early potatoes
First early varieties such as ‘Duke of York’ and ‘Home Guard’ are the first types you can plant and the best time to plant them is around the end of March. If you are growing them in pots which are being kept in a greenhouse or conservatory you can plant them as early as late February so they would be ready even sooner. It usually takes around 10 weeks, but ensure that your potatoes are in flower before lifting them. They are usually ‘new potatoes’ and should be about the size of an egg.
Planting second early potatoes
Second early potatoes such as ‘Kestrel’ and ‘International Kidney’ take around 15 weeks to grow and are usually ready a few weeks after your first early potatoes. Ideally you want to plant them from early to mid April and as with the first early varieties they should not be lifted until the potato plants are in flower.
‘Maris Peer’ second early potatoes – Plant around April and harvest around June / July
Planting main crop potatoes
These are usually the last to be planted and the last to be harvested. Ideally plant them around mid to late April and they should be ready to lift in 20 weeks which would be around September but this can vary. Main crop potatoes are lifted once the plant stalks and foliage turns yellow and starting to wither and die back. Cut the stems back to a couple of inches above soil level when they reach this point and leave for around 2 weeks before lifting.
To sum it up, it takes between ten and twenty weeks to grow potatoes depending on the type you grow. Most gardeners would grow a few of each and if you want to store the potatoes over winter you need to store the main crop varieties.
- Mix 50% farm manure with 50% quality compost and mix well.
- Keep potatoes well watered, especially when grown in pots. It is best to water well and then let the soil start to dry slightly and then water again to soak the soil.
- Feed with potato fertiliser, this is well worth doing for better crops.
- Don’t be tempted to lift too early, dig down carefully to check and if they are not quite ready, leave them for another week.
- Grow in a sunny position.
- If storing, leave the potatoes to dry before storing them in a hessian sack or paper. Never store them in polythene bags and store them in a frost free, dry cool place.