Potatoes are sensitive to frost so sowing outdoors will not occur for some weeks yet. However, in a potato bag or large bucket indoors, early potato seed can be sown now. I sow the seed  in potato growing bags, having chitted them in an egg box on the windowsill for a week or two. These bags are then positioned on the floor inside the sliding doors to get maximum light. (see pages 46 – 50 of my book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ . )

If you have the use of a polytunnel or green house, then potato seed can be sown there now too. Áine and myself sowed a few rows of ‘Sharpe’s Express’ seeds in Áine’s polytunnel in Curracloe, Co. Wexford in the last couple of days. I first dug the trenches about a metre apart, lined the bottom of each with fresh seaweed, and spaced the seed potatoes about half a metre apart, before covering with soil and watering. Potatoes are hungry and like good fertility, so I always mix in well rotted manure, compost or seaweed before sowing.

The lovely Áine Neville sowing 'Sharpe's Express' in her Curracloe polytunnel in sandy loam trenches on a bed of seaweed.

The lovely Áine Neville sowing ‘Sharpe’s Express’ in her CWP Curracloe polytunnel in sandy loam trenches on a bed of seaweed.

It can be tempting to space seed potato in a small space too closely, but this can be a false economy. Potato plants need good air circulation for healthy growth. Well spaced potato plants yield a better crop too of larger potatoes, which makes harvesting easier. These early spuds should be ready for harvest by early June, well before the blight season, which means no need to spray against blight to protect this early crop.

‘Sharpe’s Express’ is a favourite early in Ireland for good reason. It is unusual amongst ‘earlies’ in that it is a floury potato with a high dry matter content. Before harvest it produces attractive purple flowers. It is best steamed rather than boiled.

The variety was first bred in 1900 by Mr. Charles Sharpe of Sleaford in Lincolnshire, England. This area still produces a large percentage of the commercial horticulture in England, especially potatoes.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Pat O'Brien. on March 28, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Have your potatoes come overground yet. We sat them in polytunnell at the same time and no sign of growth. The polytunnell is unheated but they have grown there for the last few year (rotated of course.


    • Posted by Trevor Sargent on March 28, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      Hi Pat,

      The potatoes I chitted before planting on 20 Feb have begun to poke up above the soil, Charlotte and Orla. The Blue Danube planted at the same time is not showing yet but it was not chitted so I’ll be patient. Bear in mind mine are indoors where heat comes on (for humans) in the morning. The greenhouse will be a little slower if unheated. I would not be concerned yet as the weather is very cold.

      Good growing,



  2. Posted by Pat O'Brien. on March 29, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks Trevor. Patience then?



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