Allow seed potatoes to sprout indoors before you plant them out. This process is called ‘chitting’, and it should begin around six weeks before you plant out. To do this simply rub off the unwanted shoots just leaving three or four shoots on one end of the potato. If the potatoes arrive without shoots they need to be left in a dry and dark place for 2 – 3 weeks; by that time shoots should have appeared. Stand the seed potatoes with the eyes facing upwards – using an old egg box or other suitable tray to hold the potatoes in place – and place these in a location with plentiful natural light. When the shoots reach around 1.5 to 2.5 cm long, it is time to plant out.
To plant out in a potato patch, dig a trench roughly 10 cm deep, depending on which variety of potato you’re planting; fertilise the trench lightly either with potato fertiliser or well-rotted manure. Spacing between potatoes should be roughly 30 cm between tubers and 40-50 cm between rows for earlies, and 39 cm between potatoes and 75 cm between rows for second earlies and main crops. Place the tubers in the trench with the shoots pointing upwards, being extra careful not to damage or break the shoots. Lightly cover the potatoes with soil. Then, when the shoots grow up and appear in the ground, cover these with a slight mound or ridge of soil. Keep doing this, so that each plant has a mound around it about 15 cm high – the process of ‘earthing up’.