Planning the Allotment Crop Rotation Plan – What Potatoes to Grow

There are quite a few things to factor in on a crop rotation plan. For example, how much room will each crop need, how long it will be in the ground for etc. Potatoes are a major crop and working out their requirements is what this article explains.

Harvesting Sarpo Mira Potatoes

The author harvesting potatoes in September. Var. Sarpo Mira

What to Grow? – Potatoes

Being a staple of our diet, potatoes are pretty important. The difference in taste between home grown organic or even chemical grown and supermarket bought is huge. From being the ‘filler’ on the plate, they transform into a tasty treat when they’re home grown.

Last year I grew Arran Pilot (first early), which was very successful, cropping heavily. Charlotte (2nd early) which did OK but was a little blighted and slugged. Although supposed to be a salad potato, some of our largest spuds were Charlotte!

The maincrop were Desiree, the results here were disappointing. Low in quantity and quality. Mainly due to the dreaded blight which was pretty bad in the muggy grey days we laughingly called a summer.

We also grew a few Anya from a pack of supermarket potatoes that had sprouted. This is not approved practice but we got away with it and had a few tasty meals from half a dozen planted tubers. Saving your own seed potatoes can lead to virus infection build up and problems which is why they’re bred in places like Scotland where they don’t have the infection-spreading aphids.

You can get away with saving your own seed potatoes or even growing from supermarket sprouted ones, but it’s a bit of a gamble at the best of times.

The plan this year is to use Plot 29, Bed 4 as the main potato bed with the end nearest the comfrey bed on Plot 5 for the overspill.

My order was placed with Thompson & Morgan

The Potato Order

  • 1 of Arran Pilot [20 tuber pack] (1st Early)
  • 1 of International Kidney [20 tuber pack] (2nd Early, grown as ‘Jersey Royals’)
  • 1 of Orla [20 tuber pack] (1st Early, blight resistantm can be left to grow on to maincrop))
  • 2 of Sarpo Mira [20 tuber pack] (Early Maincrop)
  • 1 of Anya With Orders (2nd Early)

First the maincrop. Here I especially want blight resistance after last year and I’ve been hearing great things about the new Sarpo varieties (pronounced SHARP – O ). According to Kitchen Garden magazine the cultivars were rescued by heroic Russian scientists under German shellfire outside of Leningrad and then saved for posterity by a Dr Sarvari who, after falling out with the communist regime, kept them safe and hidden under his bed.

We’re also going to try a new variety from Thompson & Morgan, Orla. Described as having outstanding blight resistance and, after the blight of recent years, a good safety measure.

I’ve also gone mad and added 20 tubers of International Kidney, which is the same variety as ‘Jersey Royals’. Should be tasty!

So 40 tubers of Sarpo Mira should, at a spacing of 18”, or 6 tubers per 10’ row, cover about 7 rows. At 30” per row, that’s about 17½’of the 29’ on Bed 4. Should yield around 120 lbs at least.

The Arran Pilot should take up about 4 rows at 12” spacing and 24” per row. This should then leave about 6’ for a few rows of the Anya.

The remainder will go onto Plot 5. I could use Bed 7 as was, it hasn’t been limed yet and, if I rotovate well to break up the soil and use a few bags of cheap compost around the tubers, be fairly productive. The rows on here will be 15’ long

This means I need to incorporate:

International Kidney (20 tubers) 3 ½ rows at 30” between rows

Orla (20 tubers) 3 ½ rows at 24” between rows

Remainder of the Anya will fill the gaps.

As I want to try some really early in the greenhouse in plastic bags that will use a couple of Orla and Arran Pilot tubers.

That’s Bed 4 on Plot 5 utilised and about 18′ (plus a path) of Plot 29’s available space.

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