Potatoes for May

Pussy cat on a spudIf you like your early potatoes early and you have enough room, why not plant some in your greenhouse in January? They could be ready for harvesting as soon as May. Yields can be modest, but the flavour of fresh early potatoes is unbeatable. Choose seed potatoes of an early variety, and stand them on a warm bright windowsill indoors to start sprouting. Keep the eyes facing upwards so the emerging shoots will be straight and tall.

When the sprouts are about five centimetres tall plant the seed potatoes in the greenhouse, either in the ground or in large pots. Some compost or well-rotted manure could be added to the soil, but not too much if slugs are a problem. When planting take care to trickle soil gently down between the sprouts to avoid damaging them. Some growers who use pots plant the seed potatoes in half-filled pots and add more soil as the sprouts grow up, always leaving their tips exposed to the light to speed up growth.

Keep the soil moist but not wet, ventilate the greenhouse (or bring pots outside) on warm days, and protect the plants from frost and slugs. Add soil around the bottoms of the stems to stop light from greening potatoes near the surface. You can start eating the potatoes when flowering is over, but the potatoes will continue growing bigger until the foliage dies down. They taste best when freshly dug, so unless you need the space or have a slug problem dig them only as you need them. Bon appétit!