Now is the time of year to be deciding what Potatoes to get in for planting. This will be the third year we've grown our own spuds, so I thought I'd share my thoughts to date, and what I'm planning on doing this year.
One of the key things about growing potatoes is that you want to avoid blight, which is a fungal based infection, aggrevated by damp conditions. So it's a good idea to rotate the plots that you grow in to avoid this. Also, you can mitigate blight by growing varieties which are resistant, such as the Sarpo varieties. Heres a link to a debate about the flavour of them, but I was quite happy with
They are also prone to frost damage, so you need to wait until the chance of frost has gone, and/or start them off under cover – which is what I've always done. I'll put some more cultivation tips at the end of this article.
So, here's what I've grown in the past :-
2nd early, supposed to be a good "new potato" to quote the marshalls catalogue :- "This Second Early has firm white flesh, which does not break up or discolour on cooking. Expect heavy yields of medium sized tubers, which are good boiled"
I planted mine out 4th April, and to be honest they never really thrived, not sure if it was the soil or what. However we did have lots of small potatoes, which roasted were absolutely delicious. Boiled didn't really like them. They did keep very well, and we still had some left in a muslin bag through to december !
Will I grow them again : not this year.
First Early, has white skin and white flesh. Frim, waxy texure. Planted mine out the end of Feb under cloches. Dug a couple at the end of may – quite small not bad, but not brilliant
Will I grow them again : not this year
So, this year I'm going to try a completely different set :-
Winston -early, salad: Anya, NIcola, and then Kestrel, Rooster and Sarpora Mira.
Great page on how to grow potatoes on "Garden Organic" web site. The way that I've done it down in Cornwall is to put some seaweed down in the autumn, then dig that in early in the new year with a bit of organic fertliser. Cover the ground with black weed supressing fabric, to warm it up, then if it's looking wet and still a chance of some frost, improvise some cloches. I then dig a furrow in the ground, push the potatoes down, "eyes up", and cover with soil. As they start to grow I earth them up, in between the rows.
Rather than digging up the whole plant, what I've done so far is to just dig around the outside of the plant VERY gently, and pull out what I need for one meal, and just keep going back for more. As the season progresses and the foliage dies back, then dig them all out and store in a hessian sack in a cool place. As the link above says, you're not recommended to grow potatoes in the same ground year after year, so rotate them. One rotation stragegy would be :-
Year 1 – Potatoes
Year 2 – Brassicas such as cabbage
Year 3 – Peas / Beans
Year 4 – Root crops, such as Carrots, parsnips etc