Monday, 19 February 2018
It was Potato Day in my neighbouring village of Dunblane at the weekend so we popped up with M&D to have a look. It was a busy old gathering of people and we bumped into friends, colleagues and clients while we were there! So, what happens at Potato Day and what has it got to do with growing potatoes, I hear you say?…
Well, Potato Day is a gathering of people who are selling a huge range of different varieties of potatoes. From your early potatoes to salad potatoes there was a variety to suit your garden. You could buy a bulk bag of your favourite variety or just individual tubers of ones you haven’t tried before to suit your allotment size. There was also a stall selling lots of seeds and onion sets so you could get your whole GYO area sorted out for the season ahead.
We opted to go for 3 different varieties of potatoes this year. We normally only choose one as we don’t have lots of space so it was a real treat to be able to choose individual tubers and get the exact quantities we wanted. You can also look at each tuber and make sure none are soft, mouldy or shrivelled. We chose:
1st Early – Arran Pilot. A very early traditional potato, the most popular potato grown in the UK in the 1930s! A new one to us.
2nd Early – Maris Peer. A great tasting early potato. We grow this potato lots and we love it!
Salad potato – International Kidney. This one makes a very tasty salad potato with a waxy texture. Another new one for us to try.
You need to “chit” your potatoes before you can plant them in the ground. Chitting means sprouting the tuber – putting it, most eyes upright, in a light, cool but frost-free place at about 10C. Old egg cartons are a great holder for your potatoes while they are chitting. Chitting potatoes gives you a quicker and slightly larger harvest.
Once you have healthy, short, green shoots, about an inch long, they are ready to be planted in the ground. Rub off all but 3 or 4 of the healthiest shoots at the top of your potatoes.
Dig straight, shallow trenches, two to three feet apart, in prepared soil. Plant seed potatoes 12 inches apart and cover with about 3 inches of soil. When the shoots reach 10 to 12 inches tall, use a hoe or shovel to scoop soil from between rows and mound it against the plants, burying the stems halfway.
Your first early potatoes should be ready to dig up around June/July with the second earlies about a month later. If you choose maincrops they will be ready from August through to October.
Happy potato growing!
Lulu & Tilda xx