What could be nicer than digging your own early potatoes out of the home garden?
Potatoes are a relatively easy crop to grow, but here are 6 top tips to increase the chance of success.
- Chit before planting to give the plants a head start when planting. To chit/sprout leave the seed potatoes in trays with their eyes up in a light cool, frost free room. (Read more about chitting potatoes HERE)
- Fertilize soil well to achieve a good yield and quality.
Potatoes need enough Nitrogen to produce good stalks and leaves, Phosphorus for good root growth and Potash for yield, quality and flavour. 300kg Farm Yard Manure would normally be sufficient for a 100m2 patch, instead one can use 30kg of our Topmix Complete or Vegan Complete Fertilizer. (Both are organically approved)
- Avoid planting too deep or too early, cold soil slows down growth and makes plants more susceptible to diseases. Make shallow furrows (5cm deep in clay, 10cm in sand) with a Ridging Hoe at approx 75cm distance. Plant potatoes in these furrows at approx. 30cm distance. Cover over furrows with the same hoe, and later earth up when the sprouts appear above soil. Repeat this several times as the plants grow, using the soil in between the ridges until the plants start to cover the rows. Earthing up gets rid of any weeds at the same time.
- Grow early and blight resistant varieties, to avoid your crop being destroyed by blight. Early varieties grow faster, so when planted in time these will be harvested before the blight season.
Vitabella, Alouette, Bionica, Carolus and Sarpo Mira are all blight resistant varieties.
- In case there is a very dry period in May/June, it is advisable to irrigate, don't wait too long as this is a crucial time when the plants are setting the tubers, in continued dry conditions only a small number, like 5 or 6, will grow on to full size, the desired count is 10 to 14 tubers per plant.
- Harvest as you need with early potatoes, they store best in the ground, unless there is a problem with slugs or crows, then harvest and store in a cool dark place. Maincrop potatoes can get too big sometimes, especially blight resistant varieties, so keep an eye on this. Cut back plants if the optimum size of the tubers has been reached. Do this in two stages to avoid damage to tubers, first remove the leaves, and a week or so later the stalks.
Leave the potatoes in the ground for at least 2 weeks after this to harden their skins.
Enjoy the growing and later the eating!