Friday, 20 March 2015

How To Grow New Potatoes aka Baby Spuds

 New Baby Potatoes
Picture from

Wondering how to go about growing those lovely, new, baby potatoes for early summer eating?

The Soil...
Potatoes need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day and nice, loose, soil that drains well.

They grow well in soil that is slightly acidic or neutral. Sweet soils (alkaline) may cause scab to occur so do not lime your spud bed.

Add compost, manure and organic matter to your bed annually. This keeps your soil healthy and healthy soil gives you healthy crops. Organic gardening is all about feeding your soil to feed your plants, thus no need to additionally fertilise any veggies in a garden with healthy soil.

Spuds like potash aka potassium (the K in the N-P-K) so if you have a source of kelp or seaweed, add that to your potato bed and you will have lovely spuds. If you do not have access to the actual seaweed, you can spray some liquid seaweed onto the soil, before or during the growing process. You can also spray the liquid seaweed right onto the foliage.

Choosing your spuds... 

For the baby potatoes you want to choose early to mid season potatoes rather than the late ones. Think Warba, Yukon Gold, Norland, Chieftain ....

The new baby potatoes will be ready to harvest about 10 weeks after planting.

 These chits are coming along nicely. 
Wait till they are about an inch long to plant up, if you can wait that long ; ) 


Chitting is the process of pre-sprouting your potatoes before planting, for earlier harvest.

To chit your potatoes, place them in an egg carton or tray, and set in a warm place for a couple of weeks until you see some chits aka sprouts. When these chits are about an inch long, you can plant them up.

If your seed potato is really large and has lots of eyes, you can cut it in half, or pieces that have at least two sets of eyes per piece. Set the pieces out to chit.
Never plant a newly cut potato, let it scab over for a few days prior to planting.

When To Plant... 

In our area, you can generally plant your potatoes anywhere from the beginning of April to the middle of June. You have a large window of opportunity : )

You want the day time temps to be around 10 C for the soil to be warm enough that your seed potato does not rot in the ground. Plant when soil is warm-ish and dry or slightly moist, not wet!
Do not ever plant into cold, wet soil.

Spuds growing in trenches...
This is after the first hilling up and now ready for the next one! 
Hill the soil around the plants so that just the top 2 inches of foliage is showing. 

How To Plant...

I like to plant potatoes in trenches, the old-fashioned way ; )

Make a trench about 6 to 8 inches deep. Plant your seed potatoes 6" to 8" apart for new/baby potatoes, or 12 inches apart for the later, larger ones.

Cover with 4 inches of soil. When your green tops are about 6" tall, add 4 more inches of soil, leaving just the top two inches above the soil.
Do this one more time until you have small hills around your tops.

Leave them to grow... water about once a week.

 Grow spuds two ways in pots...
Spuds alone... or as a mini-garden.
My mini-garden contains Russian Blue potatoes and is topped with 
Red Romaine lettuce, mixed onion seedlings, and Swiss Chard  

Alternately.... Growing in pots! 

If you do not have the garden space or do not wish to use the garden space for spuds, but still want new, baby potatoes, you can grow them in pots. Make sure they have lots of great drainage holes!

Fill your pot about 1/4 of the way up, 3 to 4 inches deep, with organic potting soil (a soil-less mix). You can add compost to your potting mix for more nutrients ( I would use a 2 to 5 ratio with your compost). You can also mix in some organic, granular, vegetable fertiliser.

I went with a 3 gallon pot, so placed 2 seed potatoes into the pot. If you go with a larger pot, you can pop in more seed potatoes, but keep in mind that less means bigger spuds ; ) 

Top up the pot with soil as the plants grow, as mentioned above with the trenching method...

Or ... You can also use your pot as a mini-garden so no topping up needed.
For this method, you want to put about 4" of soil at the bottom of the pot, pop in your seed spuds, and then fill the pot with soil to the top. Plant up the top with peas, onions, lettuce, spinach, Oriental greens, whatever you like.. I used a 5 gallon pot and 3 seed potatoes.

 Won't be long now till there are baby potatoes.... 

Harvesting your baby potatoes...

About 3 weeks after your potatoes have flowered, which is about 10 weeks after planting, you can begin to harvest your new baby potatoes.

Carefully root around the sides and remove the largest of baby spuds, leaving the smaller ones to harvest later... or simply pull up the entire plant and harvest one plant at a time, as needed. Keep in mind though, that you will get all different sizes if you harvest the plant.

For the potted potatoes, simply dump the pot out in the garden or on a tarp, harvest your spuds, and add the soil to your garden beds or compost pile. Do not save soil to re-use. 

Note: New baby potatoes are a treat that should be eaten the day they are harvested. They will not keep or store well.

If you want storage potatoes, leave the potatoes in the ground until till the tops of the plant begin to die back.

 Enjoy ... 

Cook any way you like 'em best ... baked, roasted, boiled, smashed....

This pic above is from Jamie Oliver and HERE here is the link with corresponding recipe!

The recipe for the pic below of Smashed Garlic Baby Potatoes can be found HERE

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