Gardeners' World: Monty Don explains how to harvest potatoes

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On the latest episode of Gardeners’ World, Monty Don shared how to harvest “second earlies” potatoes. Monty Don’s potato patch looked dry due to the recent heatwave. The tops of his potatoes had all died back as a result of drought.

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The gardening expert said he hadn’t watered the patch at all and didn’t water the beds “ever” at Longmeadow.

He does this partly to save water and because they spend all their spare time watering pots and containers.

Monty’s potatoes are what is known as “second earlies”.

Second earlies are also known as new potatoes and are usually ready from July.

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The variety of potato Monty grows are called Charlotte potatoes.

The 67-year-old said you would expect these potatoes to be ready by now.

He continued: “By early July, sometime in July, you want to harvest them, clear the ground so you can have another crop.

“Whereas, if you’re growing main crop potatoes, they can stay in the ground until October if need be.”

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Monty said the “first thing” gardeners need to do is ensure the potatoes on the surface, which have been exposed to sunlight, are kept separate from the other potatoes buried deeper in the ground.

The reason for this is because they can develop green skin which is “poisonous”.

Monty explained: “What you’ll find is where a tuber has been exposed to any light at all, it will develop a green area, and that’s poisonous.

“You can’t eat that. Now, if you cut the green area off, the rest is fine.

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“The poison doesn’t spread.

“Just be aware that they do need to be kept protected from light which is the main reason why we earth them up.

“It’s not just to protect them from frost.

“It’s to make sure that there is a barrier that stops light hitting the tubers.”

As Monty dug down into the soil, he started to unearth the rest of his potatoes.

Charlotte potatoes are a waxy variety which can be good quality.

Monty’s potatoes were “nice quality” despite a lack of water but there weren’t that many of them.

Gardeners’ World can be streamed on BBC iPlayer.

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