Christmas Potatoes

Grow Potatoes For Christmas

Having your own home-grown Christmas Day potatoes is a dream for many gardeners. Who doesn’t want to make their Christmas meal a little more special by including some homegrown produce?

When you know what you are doing, it is also quite simple to achieve, so let me show you how.

Growing Christmas Spuds

As I stated, this 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 reasons for this are blight and poor weather. Late-season blight will happen in many places, especially in wet summers.

If your potatoes are growing out in the open and they catch blight, they will be killed off, which will be that.

This is why I grow my Christmas potatoes in buckets. I can then move them into the greenhouse or high tunnel, protecting them from blight.

Growing in a greenhouse or high tunnel will also help protect your spuds against the worst of the weather, which over Oct & Nov isn’t going to be great in many areas.

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 an autumn planting potato such as Red Lasoda or Gold Rush. These take 110-120 days to reach maturity, so planting at the start if August is the perfect time.

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 weather – and move them under cover if there is any risk of frost or blight!

I will then move them under cover automatically when the weather starts to turn in late September. But this will vary depending on what zone you are in.

Drill Some Holes

As buckets are meant for carrying stuff around in they have a severe lack of drainage, but we can easily fix that.

Drill holes in the bucket
Drill holes in the bucket

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!

Lots of holes!
Lots of holes!

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 chicken manure.

This isn’t essential, but it just adds more food to your compost and, in theory, should lead to a bigger harvest.

Fill the bottom with compost
Fill the bottom with compost.

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.

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 pop it in any way up; the shoots will find their way up in time!

Put your seed potato in (sprouts up)
Put your seed potato in (sprouts up)

Now you can cover the potato with compost, again don’t fill the bucket up, just add enough to completely cover the spud.

Cover with more compost
Cover with more compost.

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.

Potatoes growing in a flexi bucker
Potatoes growing in a flexi bucket.

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!

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