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Earthing up potatoes

Hi all, this is the first year I've grown potatoes. I grew some spring new potatoes which I dug up last week - a fairly modest crop was held but noticeably a large amount of the potatoes were tiny (no bigger than a fingernail in diameter). As these were supposed to be new potatoes I think they just didn't develop much. 

I've started some main crop potatoes and I am struggling to stay on top of earthing them up. I did 1/4 of the crop yesterday and they've already bust through the top of it! I estimate I'd probably need a full bag of compost to cover the row I've laid down and if they're exceeding it daily it's an awfully expensive crop of potatoes. Perhaps I haven't planted them properly - I did trench them and earthed up the first round as soon as I could, but the second and third etc. just seem to burst on through within hours it feels. How often should I earth up? Can I do anything else like cover them with cardboard instead? 


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,014
    Are you growing them in the ground?  If so I do them the same as in this video

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • takhanatakhana Posts: 82
    Are you growing them in the ground?  If so I do them the same as in this video
    That is perfect thank you! Totally different to what I'm currently doing... whoops. I think I've possibly planted them too close to the veg bed border but I'll let OH have a go tomorrow/Sunday with the new hoe he bought recently. I've been very friendly and gently placed the soil on all the leaves as well so I'll stop worrying so much about that too!
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,014
    edited June 2022
    Now that frosts are over all you need is to keep as much of the stems buried as possible cos the tubers form on the stem that are in the dark. 
    But you don’t have to keep earthing up for ever … I’d usually stop about now … but I do plant nice and deep in the first place 😊 

    But don’t let your Under Gardener hoe too close to the potato plants or he might uncover some of the potatoes and then they’ll go green and inedible. If he does train him to cover them back up again 👍 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 2,519
    edited June 2022
    We gave up growing pots some years ago but decided to have another go 3 years ago. Result? Not worth it again even though we followed all the rules. since then we have had "volunteers" that have given us a better crop than the original. I know that some of you will say that we didn't harvest the crops well beforehand but we did but you always do leave a small potato and then they grow next year. I think we also felt that the amount of time earthing up didn't give value when we could could get more from other veg crops.
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,458

    As others have hinted, spuds are quite often not as good a crop to use in the average domestic plot.  Depending on the number of mouths to be fed, a healthy crop of beans, peas or, especially, onions that can be stored/frozen for off season use when prices are high, are economically preferable to a bag of cheap spuds from the supermarket.  The space they take up is disproportionate but, having said that, a novelty crop of first earlies can be a price worth paying, and there's nothing like spuds for 'cleaning' a plot.  It's always an individual choice.

  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,458
    PS -  Don't forget the risk of the dreaded blight?
  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,717
    The only potatoes I earth up are large bakers nothing else needs it if you plant them fairly deep and have a loose soil.
  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy Posts: 6,414
    @takhana , from what you said,  I  think you were just a tad impatient.  Early potatoes generally take 10-12 weeks at least, and seasons vary a lot. Not worth digging until they have flowered, when they do flower give a good soak, 10 l or  2 gal per plant. Leave for another 2  weeks before you try to harvest if they a still tiny give them a bit more time. 
    Main crop take 18-20 weeks  or until the tops start to yellow.
     I agree potatoes take up a lot of space but you can grow a useful crop in large containers. Homegrown new spuds have a taste you will rarely get from shop bought .
    AB Still learning

  • Fwiw i earthed mine up almost as soon as I planted as I knew I’d be away in April/May ... just started eating my second earlies a week or so back .... damn good they are too !
  • Tam_ThumbTam_Thumb Posts: 44
    edited June 2022

    This is the type of tool I used, I planted them about 6" deep then once they started to sprout through the soil I'd then fur them up with this then if they needed a bit more furring up later on i'd do it again
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