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Grow Your Own Tasty Poatatoes

  27/02/2014 at 10:02 am

The potato needs no introduction as one of the major components of a traditional Irish dinner. Potatoes really are easy to grow and can practically be grown in every soil. Go on give them a go and be for ever smitten.

First early potatoes are planted in mid-late March, and traditionally before Paddy’s day weather permitting. The usual depth for planting all potatoes is around 15cm (6”), with a spacing of 30cm (1ft) between plants. The spacing between rows is usually 60cm (2ft). Harvest time is from June to July. Probably the best known first early potato has to be Sharps Express, and is always in high demand due to our nation’s love of floury potatoes. Last year I sowed Red Duke of York potatoes and they were pure balls of flower, hence I recommend you give them a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Second early potatoes are planted early–mid April. The planting conditions are the very same as for first early potatoes. As they are planted a little later they will be ready for harvest from July to August. I am often asked how you can tell when potatoes are ready for harvesting. The only sure way to know is to dig a sample stalk of potatoes, and see are you happy with their size. The nation’s favourite second early potatoes are still British Queens, which are renowned for their floury texture and taste.

Maincrop potatoes are planted mid-late April. Because they are in the ground for a longer growing period, they have to be given more space to grow. The planting depth remains the same, but the spacing between plants increase to 45cm (1.5ft) between plants. Larger spacing is also given between the row and this is increased to 75cm (2.5ft) between the rows. The big difference between first and second early potatoes, as compared to Maincrop potatoes is the increased yield and their ability to be stored until the following spring. Don’t be put off growing potatoes because of the dreaded potato blight. After careful breeding and selecting we are now able to grow two relatively new potatoes which are blight resistant. Give Sarpo Mira and Sarpo Axon a try and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the results.

To do list:

1.Now is the perfect time for preparing the soil for planting potatoes Tip: The ground can be dug over, removing weeds and any large stones. As potatoes are hungry feeders and require lots of moisture, dig in plenty of farm-yard-manure. Warning use only farm-yard-manure that is free from herbicides (weed killers)

2.It is the time to prepare first early potatoes for planting, this is known as Chitting. Tip: Chitting is used to produce healthy shoots, to speed up the growth of potatoes when they are planted. Place seed potatoes in old egg trays for support with eyes facing up. Eyes are the indentations which are purple-black in colour that produce new shoots. Ensure potatoes are positioned in a bright cool place, which is protected from frost. Chitting usually takes about 6 weeks.

3.You don’t need a garden to enjoy growing spuds. Tip: Potatoes can be grown in practically any container. Place 10cm (4”) compost in the bottom of a 45cm (18”) diameter pot then add three potatoes with eyes facing up. Cover potatoes with 5cm (2”) compost. Keep adding additional compost as shoots grow up above compost level, known as earthing up.

By Eamonn Wall