Growing Tips

Potatoes

Potatoes are grouped according to their season of harvest - earlies, second earlies and main crop. Early varieties are lower yielding, require less space, and escape many summer pests & diseases.

Planting:

Potatoes are one of the best crops for cleaning and improving poor soil.

In Autumn dig in plenty of well rotted manure or potato fertiliser Stand the sets (tubers) for planting upright on a light cool windowsill to grow short green sprouts (shoots) during early March.

Plant early potatoes in April, 15" apart, 18" between rows.

Plant main crop later in the month 15" apart, 24" between rows. All 4" to 5" deep.

Chitting:

Treat seed tubers carefully. Place them in a clean box or tray - old egg boxes are ideal - with the 'rose' end (the end where the tiny buds can be seen) upwards.

Keep in a dark, dry place until you see tiny shoots appearing, then move to a cool (8-10C), light place. This process, known as 'chitting', encourages the tubers to produce strong, sturdy sprouts, and gives an earlier maturing crop. Tubers can safely stay in their trays until planting conditions are right.

A dusting of fertiliser in the hole at planting time increases the crop.

When the haulm (plant) is 9" to 12" high, earth up soil around the plants as growth proceeds. This protects the tubers and prevents them from turning green, resulting in a bitter taste.

If there is a danger of frost when the shoots have begun to emerge draw a little soil over them for protection.

Water in dry weather, this is very important once the tubers have started to form.

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Soil types:

Potatoes can be grown in practically any soil type, as well as potato barrels and potato buckets.

Choose a sunny spot if possible and avoid frost pockets.

Dig over the soil the previous autumn and add peat, compost, manure or potato fertiliser. Do not add lime.

Before planting rake in a wireworm insecticide, if you have this problem. This problem regularly occurs in newly dug grassland. Break down any large clods and sprinkle fertiliser over the top of the soil.

Harvesting:

With early potatoes wait until the flowers are fully open. Carefully remove soil from a small part of the ridge and examine your tubers. They can be harvested as new potatoes when they are as big as hens eggs.

With main crops for storage cut off the haulm once the foliage has turned brown and the stems have withered. After removing the foliage wait for 10 days - then lift the roots and let the tubers dry for several hours. Place them in a wooden box or hessian sack and store in a dark, frost free, cool environment like your garage or shed. They should keep until spring.

When harvesting make sure all tubers are removed from the soil, this helps to prevent attack from pests & diseases. 

Kitchen Tips: When lifting in early October take care not to damage the tubers. Allow 2 hours to dry and store in a cool, ventilated area in the dark. Try cooking clean new potatoes whole with mint, salt and butter.


Potatoes