Planting Potatoes

The last few weeks have been busy and a bit traumatic. A little too busy really, but when you work for yourself, you don’t turn it down, you fit it in. Even if it’s bright sunshine outside.

The trauma was a visit to the doctors and eye clinic. I’d noticed some blurring in my vision in one eye which the doctor suspected could be bleeding into fluid in the eyeball. Off to the experts at the hospital.

The doctor sounded Spanish to me, I didn’t really like to ask, but a little hard to understand her accent for me. Anyway, the diagnosis was either a cactus or a cataract growing in my eye. Happily not too serious – but it’s getting very inconvenient.

Planting Potatoes

Saturday was simply too good to miss. Wall to wall sunshine from start to finish. The main job was to plant my potatoes that have been chitting in the shed. These have all gone into the deep raised beds.

The general soil quality is very poor. Thin, sandy, nutrient-poor and very stony but the deep beds give me a foot depth of lovely quality, compost rich soil to grow in. Now the normal spacings for vegetables have been calculated for farmers to maximise yield from a given area. Growing in raised beds with an optimum growing medium enables you to squeeze those spacings.

The rule of thumb for raised beds is to space equidistant on the row gap. For example, if the standard spacing is 8″ apart in rows 18″ apart, then just plant 8″ apart both ways. But potatoes don’t really work too well on that basis. Overcrowding them too much results in reduced yield.

So, my earlies go in a foot apart in rows 18″ apart and the maincrops about 15″ apart in rows 24″ apart in the raised beds. The other option for maximising yield is to grow in bags or barrels but they depend on you having the time to keep adding compost to the bags as the haulm grows.

This year I’ve planted:

  • Arran Pilot, a first early whose flavour we like. Left in the ground they continue to develop with the tubers growing quite large and they keep well.
  • Charlotte, a second early salad potato.
  • Lady Balfour, a maincrop named after Lady Eve Balfour who was an organic pioneer. Pretty good blight resistance, so hopefully we’ll get a good crop.
  • Mayan Gold, a maincrop noted for good taste. No good for boiling but ideal for roasting and chipping. Has some blight resistance.
  • Sarpo Mira. The Sarpo (pronounced sharp-o) varieties are very blight resistant. These are ‘bankers’ – a crop you can rely on.

To prepare the beds I just went over them with my Mantis tiller. The beauty of the Mantis is that it’s light enough to just lift into the bed and you can control it so you don’t hit the sides. It leaves the soil light and fluffy. Next I applied some potato fertiliser and raked it in and then proceeded to plant out.

Also planted out my onion sets and shallots. Normally I like to grow onions from seed, but time is pressing this year. Ran over a shallow bed with the Mantis and then raked and walked it to firm the soil. Onions like a fairly firm soil.

All in all, a productive if tiring day.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
6 comments on “Planting Potatoes
  1. Janet Wilson says:

    Just gonna do the same thing. I never get very big potatoes could this be because I plant them to close together?
    I always plant Maris piper because I found them to be a good all rounder.
    They are always on the small side though looking a bit like a new potato!

  2. Madcat says:

    Cataracts are fixable – when it gets to the point where you cant cope, day surgery and a laser will sort it out. Just be glad your retina is intact and in place. If there are brown/black floaters, then there is blood and you should go back to the docs to find out why; if there is a curtain of blackness that arrives over part of your sight, to the hospital asap. Not later, not tomorrow, now.

    I speak as one who knows!

  3. Anderson Coleman says:

    Hoping to get my first potatoes in this weekend, Desiree reds. Never grown them before, so fingers crossed!

  4. paul beasley says:

    How long before they show I dug them in at about a foot deep a month ago

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