The short answer is yes; you can grow potatoes in winter here in the UK.
To grow potatoes in winter, you need to select the right varieties and grow them in either a heated greenhouse, insulated cold frame or indoors. It’s not quite that simple, though, so make sure you read our guide to ensure your winter crop survives those cold, cold months.
Growing Potatoes For Christmas
You can grow your own potatoes for a delicious Christmas dinner; here’s how I go about it.
Plant special cold-stored tubers in August. These will typically take 12-14 weeks to be ready, meaning they will be ready in November.
Grow them in bags in a greenhouse.
If the foliage dies in November or early December, the spuds can still be left in the soil to be harvested for Christmas day.
You must keep the greenhouse frost free as this will kill the potato foliage.
- Grow bags are made of thickened and breathable non-woven fabric, environment friendly and BPA-free.
- The plant bags help prevent root circling and rotting, naturally air pruning "burns" off the exposed roots to promote the plant's healthy growth.
- The sturdy handles with X shape sewing on both sides of the grow bag make lifting and moving more convenient and easier without any worry of the handle being ripped off.
Growing Potatoes in Winter
Potatoes are a popular vegetable that can be grown in winter in the UK. However, it’s important to select the right varieties and provide the right growing conditions to ensure a successful crop.
Selecting the Right Varieties
When growing potatoes in winter, it’s essential to choose varieties that are suitable for the colder months. Some of the best varieties for winter growing include:
- ‘Maris Piper’
These varieties are known for their ability to withstand colder temperatures and produce a good crop in winter.
Providing the Right Growing Conditions
To grow potatoes in winter, it’s important to provide the right growing conditions. This may include:
- Growing them in a heated greenhouse or polytunnel
- Using grow lights to provide additional light
- Planting them in containers indoors
It’s also important to protect the potatoes from frost and cold temperatures. This can be done by covering them with fleece or horticultural fleece.
Challenges of Winter Potato Growth
Growing potatoes in the winter in the UK can be a challenging task.
The low temperatures and shorter daylight hours can affect the growth and development of potato plants. Here are some of the challenges that one may face while growing potatoes in the winter:
As I have mentioned, temperature is going to be a big issue for you unless you live in a costal area with warmer temperatures.
You can partially combat this by growing them undercover, but even then you will probably need a heat source to keep the frosts off your plants.
Potatoes like a lot of sun. In the winter here in the UK, the days are shorter, which means less sunlight for the plants.
This can result in slower growth and development and may also affect the size and yield of the potatoes.
To overcome this challenge, you can use grow lights to supplement the natural light and provide the plants with the required amount of light. But then you need to grow them somewhere where you have access to a power source.
And by the time you have added up the electricity bill, the economics of growing your potatoes this way will probably not stack up.
In the winter, the soil tends to be wetter and colder, which can affect the growth and development of the potato plants.
Wet soil can lead to root rot, while cold soil can slow down the growth of the plants.
This issue will be avoided in you grow your potatoes undercover.
Pests and Diseases
Late-season blight will be a serious issue if you try and grow your potatoes outdoors, and I really don’t recommend it.
You will be much better growing in a greenhouse, as I keep mentioning. This is simply because it helps to solve the three big issues, temperature, wet soil and blight.
Choosing the right potato variety
One of the most significant factors that will determine the success of your winter spud crop is choosing the right variety of potatoes. Below I will list some tremendous hardy varieties that will lead to a delicious winter or spring harvest!
Maris Peer Potato
Known as an early potato, the Maris Peer is a delicious new potato suitable to being grown in winter. They have a great flavour and are ideal for both boiling and mashing.
Why grow Maris Peer in winter
They have excellent cold resistance and are often grown in autumn for a Christmas crop. When well cared for, they can be grown throughout winter.
Problems with Maris Peer Potatoes
They are not very resistant to potato eelworm, so if this is a known issue for your garden, try a different variety of winter potato.
Well known for being one of the easiest new potatoes to grow, Nicola has earnt a stellar reputation amongst gardeners for its hardiness and disease resistance. Often used as a boiled new potato in dishes, this new potato looks excellent when left with its skin on, an essential factor if you are planning on boiling.
Why grow Nicola in winter
Very hardy and provides exceptional taste, one of the best-tasting winter potatoes you will find.
Problems with Nicola Potatoes
Susceptible to potato blight
Another new potato, well known for its taste, suitable for boiling. This hardy variety is another excellent choice for growing over winter.
Why grow Charlotte in winter
Great taste, good cold resistance and easy to grow makes Charlotte a great potato to grow in winter.
Problems with Charlotte Potatoes
Charlotte potatoes can be susceptible to eelworm so if this is a known issue for you then try a different variety.
Planting potatoes to grow inside
A great way of growing potatoes in winter is to grow them inside. A porch or conservatory makes a great spot. To start you need to find the right pot, we will outline how to get the most out of your indoor over-winter potatoes below.
- Find a large, deep pot. Ideally, over 35cm deep and wide.
- Add some compost to the bottom, garden soil mixed with compost will work just as well. Add around 10cm if you have a small pot, if your pot is deeper, you can add more. Roughly halfway will be a good guide on larger pots.
- Add one potato tuber per pot
- Cover the tubers with soil; ideally 20cm of compost should be placed on top of the tubers to cover them adequately.
- As the potatoes grow and leaves develop earth up your potatoes just as you would if you were growing them outside. This is where larger pots will work well as they leave more room to earth up.
- Ensure the room they are growing in remains frost-free all winter.
- Feed and water the potatoes throughout the winter. A general-purpose fertiliser will be sufficient.
- When the leaves begin to yellow, your spuds are ready for harvest!
- Did you know you can remove the foliage but leave the spuds in the ground until you are ready to eat them?