When growing first early potatoes in the ground avoid planting in soil where potatoes have grown for two years in succession to reduce the risk of disease. Prepare the planting area in a sheltered position in full sun on moist well drained soil. Dig in plenty of well rotted manure. Plant potatoes in rows at a spacing of 30cm (12″). Rows should be set out 60cm (2’) apart. Place the seed potatoes into 10cm (4″) deep trenches and backfill the soil to refill the trenches. When shoots reach 20cm (8″), mound up soil around the shoots leaving just a few cm showing. Repeat this process after a further 3 weeks.
Where space is limited, try growing potatoes in potato bags on the patio. Fill the potato bags by one third with good quality compost mixed with some well rotted manure. Space 3 seed potatoes in each bag on top of the compost. Fill the bags by another third and place 2 more seed potatoes on top of the compost. Finally cover them with more compost until the bags are full. Place the bags in a sunny position and water regularly to keep the compost moist.
Weed between rows and keep potato plants well watered throughout the growing season. If the risk of frost threatens, draw some soil up around the stems to protect them, or move potato bags to a frost free position in a shed or greenhouse. First early crops can be harvested approximately 10 weeks from planting when the foliage begins to turn yellow and die back.