Second crop or Christmas new potatoes are gaining in popularity. The pleasure of sitting down to a Christmas dinner with fresh new potatoes as well as Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips all harvested in the morning is unbeatable.
Second crop potatoes are not special breeds or variants on ordinary cultivars, they’re just first or second early seed potatoes that have been carefully stored in the optimum climate-controlled conditions by the seed merchant.
If growing in pots then you could follow the instructions for growing potatoes in bags or alternatively just use a good quality multi-purpose compost and add a balanced potato fertiliser. Don’t over do it with the fertiliser, use the correct quantity for the volume of compost. Work on the recommended application rate per square metre per bag.
The advantages of potato growing in pots or sacks are that:
First, if the weather gets really cold and hard frosts come you can move the pot into a greenhouse or a more sheltered location.
Second, growing in compost ensures the skins are unmarked and attractive. You want them to look their best on the Christmas dinner table
Frost and cold weather is the biggest problem and obviously outside of your control. Frost will kill the haulm (foliage) and that stops tuber growth. A layer of horticultural fleece or two or cloches may well save the day.
If it gets really cold, as in the winter of 2010 when it was heavy snow and minus 15 degrees in November then there is nothing you can realistically do which is the advantage of pot grown second crops that can at least be carried into a greenhouse or even the house.
Blight can be a problem. Usually the blight periods are over by September so the second crop isn’t at much risk but with the erratic weather we have in Britain you never know. Fleece or a cloche can provide a good level of protection by stopping the spores landing on your haulm.
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