The weekend saw us planting spuds…. finally. I’ve mentioned before that potatoes are my favourite vegetable so it warms my heart to know that they grow pretty well on the plot. Result!
Like many allotmenteers it’s a tradition to plant potatoes Easter weekend but storm Katie had other plans this year and we had to rethink the master plan! Once there was the tiniest hint of blue sky though, we were ready for action literally running to the plot with our chitted beauties!
Over the years we have grown a few different varieties such as Pentland Javelin, Charlotte, Aaron Victory and various Sarpo’s which have all been great but having experienced the devastation of blight once too often, we have decided to grow just earlies and a blight resistant main crop this year. We also suffer from keeled slugs but they tend to stay away from red skinned potatoes (and red lettuce come to think of it) so the main crop which will be in the ground the longest is always a red skinned.
Lady Christ will be the first out the blocks so that we can grow, harvest and eat in time for the barmy days of summer salads closely followed by International Kidney (Jersey Royals). The plan is to have them both lifted and stored before the blight season is upon us in June/July.
We also want to have enough spuds to see us through the winter and most importantly Christmas dinner so we’ve gone for Sarpo Mira, a great all-rounder which will be lifted in September/October.
One thing that intrigued me last year is that we produced less potatoes than previous years but they were really quite big! If you’re like me you might wonder why? Having spoken to some of the longer standing plot holders we concluded it was probably influenced by the planting position. The shadier the position the smaller the spud so when we grew them in full sun we got bigger spuds! This year we’re going mid plot.
I’m pretty traditional in the way of planting. Rotate each year to limit disease and eelworm, dig trenches spaced 60cm apart for first earlies with each spud distanced 30cm apart and for mid and main crop the trenches are 75cm apart with 40-45cm between each spud. At the bottom of each trench manure is sprinkled which helps to reduce scab. Throughout the season they will probably be earthed up 2-3 times and that’s it.
It’s worth noting the timings they are meant to be in the ground. First earliers are in for 10 weeks, mid for 13 weeks and main crop up to 20 weeks. The other way you can tell they are ready is when the foliage dies down but not all varieties do this. One thing for sure though is that when they flower the tubers are putting on weight so that is a good time to water! Unfortunately this also tends to be the time that blight is around so you have to be really careful not to splash the foliage if possible.
Hopefully in early June I’ll be showing you the first potato crop. Fingers crossed!