Site Preparation: Prepare your potato growing site by digging in plenty of well rotted manure. It can't be stressed enough that the manure needs to be well roted or the chances of potatoes contracting scab are significantly increased. In spring around the start of march tranches one spit deep should be dug out. Chicken manure or a potato fertiliser should be put into the base of the trench and mixed in.
Sowing: Potato seeds are actually "potatoes" harvested the year before. These potatoes should be 'CHITTED'. Chitting is a method of encouraging potato seeds to sprout. this is done simply by placing each potato rose end (the end of the potato with the eyes) up in an old egg box in a well lit area. Once the sprouts are formed the potatoes are ready to be sown in their trenches.
Earthing Up: Once the potatoes emerge from their covering in the trench the foliage should be covered with soil being raked from the side pf the trench. this process should be repeated until the soil is about 10" above the normal soil level.
Harvesting: Potatoes tend to be ready when the small white or purple flowers have formed. Crops can be checked at any time simply by scrapping back the earthed up soil around the plant gently.
Pests and Diseases: The number one problem for potato crops is potato blight which will rear its head in a humid season normally in July / August and there is no treatment for this pathogen. However if the plants foliage are removed in time the potatoes underneath should be okay, the foliage should then be destroyed. Other problems include:
- Slugs - Nematodes
- Scab (common and powdery) - Grow a variety with resistance, don't over manure the growing area
Varieties: The following are the varieties i have used with notes on the performance of each one.
- Lady Christl - Good cropper
- Lady Balfour - Good all rounder
- Sante - Good beginners potato
- Kestral - Good for exhibition, good flavour
- Maxine - Good for exhibition, good for roasties
- Winston - Exhibitors number one.
- Blue Danube - Blue variety, good all rounder