There are three basic categories of potatoes which are defined by their time of planting and lifting. These are:
- First Earlies
- Second Earlies
- Main Crop
Some other subcategories are Extra First Earlies, Early Maincrop and Late Maincrop. Don't get too hung up on these, some potatoes are very fast to mature and others are a lot slower.
Within each category, there are plenty of different flavours, shapes, colours and textured potatoes. Some have exclusive culinary uses and some are grown for their excellent potentional storage capabilites. There is literally a potato for every garden!
With planned planting of the different types, fresh potatoes can be available from your garden for almost six months of the year.
Extra First Earlies
Extra first earlies should be treated just as first earlies but they will mature very fast. These won't keep their best for more than a week in the cupboard so they are best eaten as soon as they are lifted.
The first earlies can be planted mid-March. The actual time will depend on weather conditions. Always remember that your young potato plants will hate frosts!
The time between planting and lifting should be about 10 weeks.
The second earlies can be planted about the same time as first earlies. Again, the actual time will depend on weather conditions so hold back if frosts are likely.
The time between planting and lifting should be about 13 weeks.
Early Main Crop
Plant these at the same time as your main crop, in the first half of April.
The time between planting and lifting should be about 14 weeks.
Unlike early varieties, maincrops do not need to be chiited (sprouted).
The main crop potatoes can be planted during the first half of April
The time between planting and lifting should be about 15 weeks.
Main crop potatoes give a heavier crop than the earlies and store much better throughout the winter months.
Late Main Crop
The late crop potatoes can be planted about the same time as the main crop potatoes. The difference being you get a much later fresh crop rather than your stored varieties you lifted earlier in the season. Freshly lifted spuds always taste best!
The time between planting and lifting should be about 20 weeks.
If planted at the beginning of May, you could have yourself a Christmas crop if the weather holds off!
Potato planting times are just a guide. How your potato plants will develop will depend entirely on their growing conditions.