Very Early Potatoes

Well this is a turn up for the book, we’re getting the best of the weather here in the wet, west Wales. A couple of days last week we had the sunniest places in Britain and we’ve got sunshine and blue skies for a few days to come.

This is the sort of weather that tempts you into sowing, spring having sprung. However, sunny doesn’t equal warm. The days are running between 6 and 10 degrees but at night it’s falling to freezing or below at times.

I’ve got a small raised bed and coldframe combo which is useful in that it warms the soil below and holds it there overnight. I’ve also got a soil thermometer, one of those cheap but useful things that clutter up the shed, that tells me the compost in the raised bed is around 8 to 10 degrees.

Now I don’t know the exact figure for potatoes, but I’ve read that grass grows when the temperature is 8 degrees or above so it seems reasonable to assume that the potatoes will grow in the frame and be safe from frost.

Planting Very Early Potatoes

So three Arran Pilot tubers went in. They’re a good old first early whose flavour we like. By the time the foliage is growing out of the coldframe, we should be past the danger of frost and by the last week of May we should be enjoying our own new potatoes.

The traditional date for potato planting is Easter, which is as much due to people having the time off to plant them as anything else. The problem with Easter is that it’s a moveable date and can be as late as late April. The ideal date will depend on where you are and the weather. I think I might get away with mid-March here but that’s because our local climate is heavily influenced by being near the coast that moderates our temperatures.

To prepare for planting out, I’m covering some of the raised beds with horticultural fleece. This will help warm the soil by a couple of degrees. In the shed, I’ve got the rest of my seed potatoes chitting. The problem with the shed is that it can get too hot in the day and too cold at night, so the tubers are in seed trays under a tent of fleece which will moderate the temperature but allow light in.


Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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