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Tall potatoes

Womble54Womble54 WimbledonPosts: 332
This is my first year growing potatoes. I’ve had 2 tubs of first earlies and 2nd earlies in a big black bin and some in one of those potato bags.

I pulled up 1 tub or first earlies when the first flowers appeared a couple of weeks ago. Probably at bit too early as the yield was quite small. 

I just got back from a weeks holiday. In the heavy rain, the stems on the 2nd tub of first earlies had bent over and snapped so I pulled those up. Slightly better yield but still not great. The foliage was pretty tall. 

The 2nd earlies are now seriously tall, no sign of flowers yet. I think the ones in the bin are almost 1.2m above the top of the bin. I started them in the bin about a third full and have earthed up all the way to the top. Don’t know if you can tell from the photo, the ones in front are in the bag and are almost chest height. The ones at the back in the bin are now well above head height (almost as tall as the rose bush next to it).

Is tall foliage a bad thing? Too much nitrogen? Is all the energy going into the tops the reason for the poor yield so far? Not sure how long I should leave the 2nd earlies before I pull them up. They were all planted mid March.

Thanks in advance for the advice for a potato novice.


  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,532
    Well I'm no expert, but my reasoning says the taller and leafier they are, the more light they will capture, the more they will photosynthesise (so long as they are also getting enough water) the more carbohydrates they can make to fatten and multiply the tubers.  But if someone knows better, which is likely, I'm happy to be corrected.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 10,077
    If you want maximum yield, you can leave any potato type until the tops die back, just like you do with maincrop varieties.  Early and 2nd early always have smaller yields than maincrop varieties as they are bred to grow fast and be lifted early as 'new' potatoes, trading flavour for yield.  No need to do anything with the foliage - mine in the ground often grow to 4ft, depending on weather and if they are planted close to other tall crops so light at the bottom is somewhat restricted.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Womble54Womble54 WimbledonPosts: 332
    Thanks both. I didn’t think of potatoes as being that tall. They’re in a nice sunny spot. I’ll leave them a while longer and see how they go.
  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 1,002
    My Folva potatoes are out in an open field, in flower not quite ready to lift as new potatoes (they can be left as maincrop as well) and are well over my waist in height, unless they tops are very bright green and soft/floppy I wouldn't think they had had too much nitrogen and looking at those I think you can just expect a good crop of spuds in a month or so.

  • Womble54Womble54 WimbledonPosts: 332
    These turned out really well. The tops were turning yellow and drooping so I pulled them up with my two helpers.


    Just over 4kg from a bin and a bag. Pretty pleased with that.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 66,267
    Great potatoes ... and the potato pickers aren’t bad either 😉 

    Thats what I like to see ... get ‘em started young 👍 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Womble54Womble54 WimbledonPosts: 332
    Anyone know what this variety is? I stupidly threw away the label from the seed potatoes. I’d be keen to grow them again. They’re a red skinned, 2nd early.
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