It’s finally spring! Yay!
For us, this means a good tidy up in the garden and the beginning of the year for our vegetable plot.
We use a raised bed design, which means low maintenance, easy access to each bed and better planning ability. It also means that, since the beds are deep, you are able to fit more into a smaller space!
Completely ideal for This Little Home’s Garden!
Potatoes get used for so many different recipes in our house and can be so versatile, I like to be sure we plant plenty of them so we get a big crop. I dedicate an entire bed to potatoes each year and also grow them in potato bags which are great for people who have even less space or only have perhaps a courtyard or even just a balcony!
If you are a regular visitor to the garden centre, you would have noticed that lots of different varieties of seed potatoes would have started showing up in the shops around the end of February.
“Why do I need to use seed potatoes? Why not the ones I buy to eat?” The reason for seed potatoes is that they are free from any potentially damaging diseases, which can render your beds totally useless if introduced into the soil. It’s simply better to be safe than sorry and you can ensure that you will get the most from your hard work tending to your crop.
“Am I too late if I buy them now” Not at all! Whilst ideally you should buy your potatoes roughly 6 weeks before you are ready to plant in order to “Chit” them (grow the eyes on the potatoes – where the plant will eventually sprout from) There has long been a debate as to whether it is totally necessary, I have tried both methods and found other factors such as the weather, feeding the crop and how much you water them really played a much more important part.
“First Earlies, Second Earlies, Maincrop?” This simply refers to roughly when the potatoes will be ready to harvest, the first earlies tend to be smaller, like a salad potato and are usually ready from the beginning of June. Maincrop will be in the ground longer, but will give you a larger potato. If you are unsure, have a little dig around and see what you can find, if the potatoes are still small then leave them for a little bit longer.
Dig your plot over, removing any large stones and breaking up the clumps of dirt and dig a trench. Place your seed potatoes with the eyes facing upwards a distance apart from each other (roughly 30 cm) If you are using potato bags, put two in a bag (or 3 if they are earlies).
Cover the potatoes with the earth and feed with manure or compost. Water them in and leave until the plants appear. This is when you need to “Earth them up”. Using the extra earth from your trenches, gradually place the earth up the haulms which will protect the growing tubers from frost and the sunlight – which will make them go green and inedible if exposed.
I’ll be back with the potato patch throughout the year!