Sunday, June 26, 2005


Talked about them very briefly before, I am almost ready to harvest this years potatoe crop. Growing potatoes (or spuds) is one of the easist vegtables to grow but like everything you need to ensure you give them some TLC to get the best from them. Where you grow them depends on what space you have. If you have some room spare in yoru garden a small plot might be best. If you have a small graden will minium space then pots will work. Depth is very important when growing spuds, in the ground and whats your soil like, heavy clay and even spuds which are great soil breakers will not be able to penetrate. If pots then can you ensure the pot will be deep enough (1/2 foot deep at min).

As root crops, spuds need depth, too shallow and the spuds won't develop enough and the resulting stems will snap. The best method I have found and a great space saver is to use a purpose made spud grower. These cost around £25.00 and are made from plastic, they are narrow enough to allow you grow them in the smallest of gardens and deep enough to let you achieve a very deep root (4 foot or so). They are also great in that they allow you to build up the soil level in the container as the spuds grow.

Growing spuds is done from seed potatoes, these are potatoes selected as the best of the crop to let you develop the next crop. It's possible to grow spuds from the supermarket spuds but you can't ensure what the crop will turn out like, seed potatoes will at least start your crop off strong. The seed potatoes must be left to 'chit', if you have ever gone on holiday and forgot about the bag of spuds you keep only to return and find them sprouting shoots then you will have seen 'chiting' potatoes. When we grow them you can do this by placing the seed potatoes in egg cartons and leaving them on sunny window sill (not direct light). When the shoots appear you can plant them on.

Plant them deep, 3/4 foot is about right. Make sure the area is weed free and plenty of manure has been dug in. If using a planter then set them on a bed of compost. As the spuds grow 'earth them up', this means keep the developing shoots just above the soil level at all times, if the shoots develop beyond the soil level too much then light can get to the developing tubers and turn them green (not good). When you reach soil level or the top of the planter then let the stems and leaves develop. When fully developed you will see a tall leggy plant with big green leaves.

When you harvest your crop is a cause of confusion if you have never grown them before. In general, let the spuds flower from this point on you can harvest. Its said the longer you leave them in the ground the better the taste. After flowering the stems will start to yellow and die, don'y be alarmed this is natural but I would earth up all spuds at this stage to avoid any attack by a garden nasty and any possible virus or diease starting.

Finally some words on spud types, spuds come in three types, earlies, mids and lates. These refer to when in the year you can plant them and when you harvest them. You can for example get spuds through the year by planting and growing different types, eariles in later winter for spuds in later spring, early summer, mids in mid spring for spuds in later summer and lates in later summer/early autum for spuds in mid to late winter (timed right you will get them for christmas). Refer to your seed potatoe supplier, packing or surf your chosen seed potatoe type.

I am growing king edward (mid sorts) and these are getting ready to flower, by early/mid July these will flower and will begin to die down late july and into august. Looking forward to bbq baked spuds :)


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