You say potato…

17 Mar

Sunday was the first day I’ve felt really warm sunshine on the allotment this year, it’s not difficult as we haven’t been that often. The excitement of the promise of warmer days led to the possibly rash decision to plant out first early potatoes . It feels like a bit of a gamble, last year we lost a whole row to a late snow fall  but I trust the wisdom of the more ahem… senior allotment holders and they have planted theirs so damn it so will I! I love digging up potatoes, it’s a very strong childhood memory for me and I still get a child like thrill from digging up a plant and searching for the potatoes in the fine, crumbly soil underneath it.

We are growing two old varieties this year Shetland Black;

with funky purple skin and a purple ring in the flesh, and Home Guard. Developed around the Second World War and apparently good for chips!

Last years problems aside, potatoes seem to grow very well on our patch and have been great for breaking up the soil making it easy to dig and plant other crops the next year. Planting is simple too, dig a hole approx 20cm ( or a trench if you’re being traditional and feeling energetic) line with manure or fertilizer, pop in the potato with most the little shoots facing upwards.

Plant 30 cm apart in rows and cover well with earth, but leave a mound or a ridge so you can tell where you have planted them. They can be left to their own devices until the green shoots appear, then you need to rake earth up over them to stop light getting to the growing potatoes and to force the plant to produce more. apart from watering they don’t need much attention, I hardly bother weeding them, but I am lazy; if weeds bother you then by all means weed them! If you are pushed for space, or are even more lazy than me, you can even grow them in containers. Fingers crossed in July we should have tasty potatoes.

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