Planting Potatoes with my Mantis

The weatherman on the radio said the temperatures in London yesterday were more like those of mid-June rather than mid-April. So, nothing in this global warming stuff then.

At least we can enjoy it whilst we’ve got it and so I headed off to the plot around 4pm. Larry, who I suspect actually lives in his polytunnel, was there so we had a chat and then I got to work planting potatoes.

I’ve run over plot 5 with the Merry Tiller but this is where the Mantis really comes into its own. Initially I go down the rows with the normal double tines on which breaks the clods of soil into a really fine tilth. Next, and this is the really good bit, I swapped the double tines for the single tines.

These go down deeper but they also throw the soil out to the sides. In other words, they dig a trench for you. I’d hate to choose between my Merry Tiller and Mantis, but if I had to I think the Mantis would win.

The other year I popped into the UK office of Mantis in Stockport and met their MD. Mantis are basically a US firm with European subsidiaries and their approach is quite American. They offer a 365 day trial. No strings, if you don’t get on with it you can send it back and get a full refund.

I asked the MD how on earth they could do it. After all, people could just buy one, use it for a year and get a refund. His answer was that they very, very rarely did have one returned but most people would hang onto their Mantis like grim death. I quite understand why.

Planting the Potatoes

Anyway, enough of the technology and onto the planting plan. Starting from top and working down. Row of Swift. I’ve got three swift in the raised bed coldframe and these will be about 3 weeks behind.

Two rows of Winston. Winston is a first early, popular with show growers for their looks, but a good tasting baker nonetheless. Although they’re a first early, you can leave them to grow large and they store fairly well.

Final row was Kestrel, a second early. They’re good for roasting and chipping. Another show grower’s potato, some of the plot holders on our site have had good results with them so I’m hopeful.

I had some Winston and Swift tubers over so a couple of half rows up by the carrot barrels went in.

They’ve all had a handful of potato fertiliser per yard of row (my accurate scientific measurements) so they should get off to a good start. I’ve still got some potatoes chitting upstairs in the cold front bedroom so they’re next for the plot.

Val came round to inspect and we returned for bowl of leek and potato soup she’d made and frozen with the last of the leeks. Just the thing after a few hours exercise in the fresh air.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
8 comments on “Planting Potatoes with my Mantis
  1. Stephen Bett says:

    Hi John

    I was reading your article about plant potatoes and the Mantis.Are the single tines the ones that do the ridging?
    I have just the double tines and it makes a good tilth.Today I have been removing dandelion head next door to my plot.
    Stephen Bett

  2. John says:

    Hi Stephen

    Yes the single tines do the ridging – they’re great for earthing up as well, run them between the rows.

  3. mike says:

    Hi John, ref to above, do you still use the plough attachment with the single tines? thanking you Mike….

  4. Martin says:

    May I ask if the mantis needs the basic soil to be roughly dug over first to break up the solid structure before you can go over with the tines to turn the soil properly?

    I ask this as a mate has a larger rotavator which cannot dig into a ‘panned’ soil surface, and before I consider buying one I’d like to make sure it can cope with my idol garden technique!! šŸ˜‰

    Cheers, Martin

  5. John says:

    After 6 years the soil on my plot is getting better so I didn’t need to dig it over. I’d say yes it needs digging if it’s bouncing a big rotovator. You can always try the Mantis out and return it under their guarantee if it doesn’t satisfy.

  6. Hi John,
    I will make you smile! I bought a 4hp Briggs Stratton rotavator, and I tried it to make sure I could get it in the car prior to paying. Before I had the chance to use it the car went in to a garage for work, and the garage burned down (Arson attack). I got another car and it wouldn’t fit, so I bought a Honda tiller. While I was purchasing the tiller I entered a competition and I won 1st prize Husqvarna R145 lawn mower…’Great’ but I don’t have a lawn, but I do have a garage full of machinery.
    Have a great season

  7. John says:

    I don’t know how you can smile about your garage going up in flames – but glad to read it’s not getting you down!

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