Having your own home-grown Christmas Day spuds is a dream for many growers. Who doesn’t want to make their Christmas meal that little bit more special by including some homegrown produce?
When you know what you are doing, then it is also quite simple to achieve, so let me show you how.
Growing Xmas Spuds
As I stated, this actually isn’t a difficult job. Potatoes are simple to grow, and will happily grow in the lead-up to Christmas if you take a few extra steps.
To be successful, I strongly recommend growing your spuds in containers and not in the ground.
The main reason for this is blight. Late-season blight will happen in most of the country, especially in wet summers like we are experiencing right now.
If your potatoes are growing out in the open, then they will be killed off, and that will be that.
This is why I grow my Christmas potatoes in buckets. I can then grow them in the greenhouse, protecting them from blight.
Growing in a greenhouse or polytunnel will also help protect your spuds against the worst of the weather, which over Oct & Nov isn’t going to be great.
When To Plant
I plant my Christmas spuds right now, which is what prompted me to write this article, August.
This gives them plenty of time to grow ready for Christmas dinner.
What To Plant
You want to plant an early (new) potato, as a main crop type will struggle to grow properly in time and in the expected conditions.
I like to plant either Maris Peer or Nicola, the ones below are what I purchased this year. This is a lot of seed potatoes though, so be prepared!
How To Plant
I like to use cheap builders buckets, they cost less than £1 each and are perfect for spuds. Plus the handle makes it very easy to carry and move your spuds around.
I start by growing them outside as in August room in the greenhouse is still at a premium. Just keep an eye on the blight map – and move them under cover if there is any risk.
I will then move them undercover when the weather starts to turn in late September.
Drill Some Holes
As buckets are actually meant for carrying stuff around in they have a severe lack of drainage, but we can easily fix that.
Get a drill and a medium-sized drill bit and then go to town and add plenty of holes to allow water to drain out. This is essential, if you don’t add drainage holes your potatoes will drown and rot!
If you don’t have a drill, then you can heat up something round and metal and push it through to make the holes, but a drill is much easier!
Add Compost To the bottom
Now it is time to add some compost; any compost will do for potatoes; they aren’t too fussy. To add a little extra oomph to my compost, I add some 6X chicken manure.
This isn’t essential, but it just adds a little more food to your compost and, in theory, should lead to a bigger harvest.
Don’t fill the bucket with compost; just about a third full is what we are aiming for. This is because we will continue to add compost as the potatoes grow – a process known in gardening circles as mounding up.
- 6X The 100% Natural Fertiliser
- Ideal for all flowers, shrubs, vegetables, lawns, outdoor pot plants, trees and roses.
- 6X boosts garden life and encourages the earthworm population.
- 6X is thoroughly composted, heat sterilised and milled to produce a weed and bug free, loose texture which is pleasant and easy to use.
Plant Your Seed Potato
Now pop your seed potato on top of the compost with the sprouts facing up. If it hasn’t sprouted yet, then just pop it in any way up; the shoots will find their way up in time!
Now you can cover the potato with compost, again don’t fill the bucket up, just add enough to completely cover the spud.
Cover As it grows
As the potato grows it will send up green shoots, we want to cover these gradually with compost whenever they appear.
you want to leave the tips above the surface of the compost, but nothing else. Just keep it looking like the photo above, where just the tip of the shoots are showing.
Keep doing this throughout the summer as the plant grows and until the bucket is full of compost.
Harvesting For Xmas
If you planted your potatoes in August then they should be ready around November, so plenty of time for Christmas.
You can harvest them at this time and store them indoors, or do what I do and leave them in the soil and harvest them nearer to the big day!