The taste of tiny, tender new potatoes need not be restricted to summer. With a little bit of skill and good timing, they can also be grown for autumn and winter harvests, meaning you could enjoy them at Christmas.
Use cold-stored potato tubers, available from specialist seed merchants in July and August. These are seed potatoes from late winter that have been held back ready for summer planting.
First and second early varieties such as ‘Charlotte’, ‘Nicola’ and ‘Maris Peer’ are recommended. As these will go straight into warm soil, they do not need to be chitted prior to planting.
You can hold back late-winter-bought tubers yourself by keeping them in the fridge or leaving them in a cool, light place right through the spring and early summer and allowing them to develop long (and rather fragile) sprouts. These will need to checked regularly for aphids.
Potatoes harvested in summer and then replanted will not produce tubers for winter as they go through a long period of dormancy after harvest.
Occasionally, supermarket potatoes bought in summer are successfully grown, but this works only if they are the last of the previous year’s harvest and have overcome their dormancy.
When to plant the seed potatoes
Most early potatoes take about 12 weeks from planting to cropping.
Potatoes planted outside in the ground in mid-summer should grow and form tubers before the first frosts in autumn, especially in sheltered gardens in the south.
Where there is a frost free-greenhouse, cool conservatory or bright porch, potatoes can be planted in August for harvesting at Christmas.