The traditional method of planting and growing potatoes is to choose a nice south facing site that is away from tree and hedges. You should try not to plant potatoes in areas that can be prone to frost in low lying pockets.
Soil Conditions for Growing Potatoes
Ideal soil conditions for growing potatoes are sandy loam soils which can be enriched with lots of organic matter to aid water retention and provide suitable feeding for you potatoes.
Heavy clay soils can be improved by adding sharp sand and lots of organic matter in the autumn of the year so that the new soil mixture can be exposed to frost which will help break up the soil structure and make it easier to work with.
If you are unable to get organic matter you can add compost to the area you wish to plant your potatoes in.
In the early part of spring where weather conditions allow you can broadcast a balanced potato fertilizer at a rate of around 4oz per square yard. Vitax organic potato fertilizer would be suitable for this as it is a slow release fertilizer formulated for potatoes.
Once you have spread your fertilizer you can either fork the soil so that it is well mixed or gently rotovate and leave for around 10 days before planting for the fertilizer to work into the soil structure.
Now to make your potato beds. Dig a trench 6 inches deep and the width of your shovel. Sprinkle 2oz of your potato fertilizer for each metre length of your trench. Again gently fork the fertilizer into the soil in the bottom of the trench.
If you have problems with slugs in your garden them now would be the time to add slug pellets to the trench following the recommended dosage from the manufactuer or use nemaslug which are nematodes designed to attack slugs and stop the problem.
Planting your Seed Potatoes
Now to plant your potatoes. First earlies should be planted 12″apart along your drill and the space between drills should be around 24″.
Now that you have your potatoes in the ground simply use the soil that you had already taken out of the trench and carefully scatter it on top of the potatoes until the trench is once again flat.
Once the potatoes start to grow through the top of the drill you should then start to earth up.
Earthing up is best done with a garden hoe. The aim is to form a peaked ridge with the loose soil at the edge of the trench to prevent your potatoes turning green which would make them inedible.
This might be required 2/3 times a season.