Potatoes are and have been a staple food in the British diet for some time. We chip them, boil them, mash them, roast them and even bake them. The main problem with growing them is that they are hard work and - unless you have a fuel-driven rotavator - involves a lot of manual digging which can be back breaking.
They come in several seasonal varieties:
- First Early - Planted late March harvested June or July.
- Second Early - Planted Mid-April harvested July or August.
- Maincrop - Planted Mid-Late April harvested August for immediate consumption or September and October for storage.
Potatoes grow well in sunny positions. Soil should be dug in autumn and peat or compost added to the soil especially if the soil has not been manured for the previous crop. Lime should not be used. Around 6 weeks before planting seed potatoes should be placed on wooden trays containing a layer of dry peat to encourage chitting (small shoots).
Once the haulm (the green shoot that grows out of the potato after it has been planted) is around 9" high the soil needs to be earthed-up (built up around the plant) to a height of 6". Remove all weed growth from in-between your plants as they grow.
New potatoes from early varieties should be harvested while the flowers are fully open. The potatoes should be the size of hen's eggs.
Main crops should have the haulm cut once the foliage has turned brown and the stems whithered. Leave the potatoes in the ground for 10 days then lift the potato and leave to dry. Store in a wooden box if possible or allow to dry longer and place into potato sacks stored on straw.
- Only use disease free certified seed potatoes.
- Remember Green Potatoes are Poisonous so do not eat them.
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015