Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Four (Guest Post)

Ah, lovely spuds- this everyday staple isn’t too difficult to grow, especially if you pick a variety with good disease and blight resistance. This year I’ve planted a variety called “Arran Pilot”- I’ve heard that it is delicious when freshly picked, so I can’t wait to see how it tastes.

Arran Pilot is a “first early”, which means that the seed potatoes are planted between late February and early May. “Second earlies” can be planted planted from March to late May, and “maincrops” are planted March to March to mid-May. First earlies and second earlies tend to produce smaller spuds, whilst maincrops tend to produce larger potatoes. There are also differences in the time between planting and harvesting- maincrops tend to take a little longer to mature than the earlies.  A final variety, “second cropping”, is planted in early August for an autumn harvest.

A few weeks ago I started “chitting” the seed potatoes I bought from my local garden centre. This just means standing the seed potatoes in egg boxes or seed trays in a bright spot until they sprout. The seed potatoes are stood with the end with more little dents (or “eyes”) facing upwards. This is known as the “rose end”. The seed potatoes need to be protected from frost, so a windowsill or greenhouse is ideal for this.  A few weeks later I have little sprouts from the rose end of my seed potatoes, known as “chits”.

Chitted seed potato

This method helps to boost the growth of your potatoes, encouraging strong shoots to grow. Don’t worry, though, if you haven’t chitted your seed potatoes, as it’s absolutely fine to plant them unchitted. After all, commercial potato farmers don’t chit potatoes- it just wouldn’t be practical in the volumes that they grow.

Seed potatoes in trench

To plant the seed potatoes, I dug a trench in my allotment about 10cm deep. I then planted each seed potato 30cm apart, the rose end facing upwards (see picture). I only had a single row of spuds, but if you are planting more than one row you need to leave 60cm between rows. Then simply fill in the trench to cover the seed potatoes. Potatoes tend to need quite a bit of water to help the tubers to grow, so make sure you water regularly, especially in dry spells.  

Filling in the trench to cover the seed potato

You might also want to check out my earlier post on spring planting:-

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting One:

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Two:

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Three:

Happy planting!

Love, Becky x 

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