Planting in soil is the traditional method and the way all potatoes sold in the shops are grown. It allows the plant a good space to grow and is very low maintenance. Obviously the plants are in a fixed location but fleece can still be applied to help the plants grow quicker or act as frost protection.
Your final yield is heavily decided before you plant e.g. the number of opened eyes on the seed tuber, the health of your soil, location, water, availability and light.
Dig over your soil a few weeks prior to planting and add in as much organic matter (not manure) as you can. This could be compost made at home from waste vegetable peelings, fruit, newspapers, grass mowing, leaves, etc. Compost can also be purchased. Lots of worms in the soil indicate great soil health!
Sadly, the act of digging is not good for the worms but unless you are on raised beds this is unavoidable. Turn over the soil until you have created a fine tilth. Large stones should be removed. There are many ways of planting and there is no one right method! Apply a dedicated potato fertiliser and rake in. Plant the tubers 6 inches (15cms) deep. The distance between the rows for earlies should be 24inches (61cms). For second earlies and maincrops it should be 36 inches (91cms). Treat salad varieties like earlies in terms of planting distance. Outer rows can be set a little closer to save space. You may choose to plant the tubers in a cushion/layer of compost so they get the best start possible. Plant with the rose end of the potato (usually where the chits are) facing upwards
Earthing up (discussed later) is not performed until the plants are showing and this will be in around three weeks from planting depending on weather.
Now your tubers are planted the next steps are the care of the crop. Weeds should not be a problem as the potato foliage should grow fast and cut out the light that the weeds need.
There are many challenges ahead for our crop and in the next modules we will discuss potato blight and how to avoid it as well as slugs and other pests!