Seed potatoes are initially bought from a supplier but in subsequent years are chosen from the previous years crop if successfully grown.


In 2017/18 we used Sarpo Mira with its distinctive pink skin and Picasso distinguisable by pink circles around the eyelet. Both varieties were chosen for resistance to blight and slugs etc.


However the Sarpo Mira crop in 2018 had a lot of scab on the skin and so in 2019 we replaced this variety with Wilja.



Chitting usual starts in early February on top of a bedroom wardrobe. We use egg boxes to keep each potato separated which protects the shoots and isolates any that may start to rot.

Bed Preparation


With a no dig approach, the potatoes are grown on the surface of the soil and covered with compost and/or manure and then a layer of straw. 


I am still to find the best balance in terms of growing medium but I am pretty certain the process for 2020 will yield my best results based on my experiences over the last 3 seasons.


Because I have been able to produce more compost year on year, in 2020 I will use only compost and not manure. Whilst the potatoes grew well in the manure I think the richness can affect leaf growth and the moisture rention properties attracts the slugs. 



Prior to 2019 I had always planted the seed potato with 2 or 3 shoots. Due to the lack of good size baking potatoes I decided last year to pinch off all shoots except for one. The results were fantastic, plenty of large potatoes and fewer small potatoes.


Because the potatoes are not banked up with soil I got caught out with frost/cold mornings in 2019 and so in 2020 I will not plant until 21st April so that when the leaves appear the last of the frost should have passed. However as extra protection I will cover the bed with a layer of straw as I have done in previous years.


So basically each bed is filled with a 10cm layer of growing material, either compost, well rotted manure or a combination. Make a hole in the material, plant the seed potato and cover with material. In 2020 I will be use only compost and if plenty available I will create a mound about 45ch wide as this is where the bulk of the potatoes will grow.


The bed is surrounded by chicken wire so that the layer of straw applied will not blow away. The straw not only provides heat retention and frost protection but as the tubers come near to the surface they are protected from the sunlight.





Once the plants develop place more straw around the plant to protect tubers from sunlight. During the plant growth slug traps are set in each bed. A plastic beaker filled half way with beer slops from my local is set in the soil at ground level and covered with a piece of slate allowing enough room for the lugs to slime under. Amazing the number we get each week and feed to our chickens! 



Tubers are usually ready once the leaves and stalks are dying off. The beauty of this method of growing is that you only have to pull away the straw to check the tubers ..... and even pick them individually if required.


Once ready the stalks and tops are cut and composted. The straw and growing material is then scraped away to reveal this years crop. I have shown the 



I brush the loose soil off the potatoes and sort them into sizes. They are placed in fish boxes and stacked in either the greenhouse or potting shed and covered with old curtains to protect from the sun. After a few days the slin will have dried and they are ready for grading. Any with major slug damage are kept for immediate use. I then bag up any with light slug damage so that these are used first. The remaining 'perfect' potatoes are then bagged for storage on a wooden pallet in the garage. I also select enough egg sized potatoes for next years seeds.


In the photos below I have shown the pink Sarpo Mira crop from 2018 for continuity purposes. Alongside I have shown the Picasso crop from 2018 and the Picasso crop from 2019. This is to highlight the difference in size by having 3 chitted shoots in 2018 and only 1 shoot in 2019.