Spring is here and the days are slowly getting longer, it's now time to start thinking about....potatoes!
Humble as it may be, the potato is very good for you and a great addition to any meal.
We now have lots of seed potatoes in stock; earlies, second earlies and maincrops.
Before planting you need to "chit" your potatoes. You simply stand the potato in a tray or maybe an empty egg box, with the bit showing the most eyes/shoots uppermost. Leave them in a cool but light position, 4-6 weeks later the little shoots 2-3cm will be showing.
Potatoes require lots of sun and a deep, rich soil so they will appreciate plenty of good garden compost or well rotted manure. Dig trenches 15cm deep and spaced 60cm apart. Sprinkle fertiliser into the trench and plant the potatoes 30cm apart with the shoots facing up. Maincrop potatoes 38cm apart. Keep your potatoes well watered especially if we have a hot, dry spell. Once the shoots have grown to around 15cm, you will need to "earth up" around the plants. Use a rake to draw soil up around the shoots until just the tips are showing. You'll need to repeat this process 2-3 more times during the crops life.
Earlies can be lifted when the flowers start to fade. Cut off the foliage and use a garden fork to gently prise up the potatoes. Maincrop potatoes are lifted when the foliage turns brown and starts to die down. These potatoes are suitable for storing.
Don't have space to grow a crop of potatoes? Earlies can be grown perfectly well in containers. Most problems associated with growing potatoes can be avoided by rotating crops. Slugs can be a nuisance as can blight, a fungal disease prevalent during long spells with high temperatures and high humidity. As soon as blight gets hold affected plants should be lifted as soon as possible. Removing and destroying foliage meantime will help and any bad potatoes can also be destroyed. Do not put any of this waste on your compost heap.
If you need any further help or advice just pop out to the garden centre.
Looking forward to seeing you all soon!