Planting potatoes

by Jane Moore

This week ... a small impromptu conference took place on my plot to discuss the weighty topic of potatoes.

Hands holding a chitted potatoThe temperatures might have dropped a bit this week, but that doesn't seem to have slowed down the onset of spring. We have a pair of blue tits setting up home in one of our bird boxes in the garden and the frogs are having a high old time in the pond where I work. There is no sign of birds nesting in the blackthorn at the plot, although it's hard to see through the swathes of blossom covering the tree.

Activity at the allotments, however, has been regular and sustained. This week all my immediate allotment neighbours were there and a small impromptu conference took place on my plot to discuss the weighty topic of potatoes.

I'm going to plant lots of potatoes — a handful of first earlies called 'Riviera' (one I've not tried before) and a good sized bed of 'Charlotte', my favourite second early, which is a fabulous new potato that's perfect for summer barbecues and salad suppers. I'm also planting two main crop varieties, 'Cara' and 'Picasso', which should both store well.

All the seed spuds have been chitting away in my greenhouse at work for a few weeks and have lovely shoots on them, so I took the first earlies and the 'Charlotte's with me to plant the other day. This is what caused the debate. "Too early isn't it?" said Tony. Vic agreed there was a chance they could get frost damaged. Ron thought I'd get away with it, but said that his wouldn't be ready to plant for another couple of weeks. I decided to hang the consequences and plant mine anyway. Besides, I mound up the soil over them after planting, so it would take a very sharp frost indeed to damage my seedling spuds.

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Gardeners' World Web User 28/03/2009 at 20:19

I'm with you on planting the spuds. Like yours, mine are already in. They are well mounded, with no growth above ground so should be well protected from frosts. Any danger of late frosts, once growth is well underway, is easily dealt with by protecting with fleece.

Gardeners' World Web User 29/03/2009 at 09:56

I've had my second earlies in a couple of weeks - there's no sign of them popping their heads through yet so I guess they weren't too bothered by last night's ground frost. The maincrop are going in today. I figure the sooner they are in , the bigger they'll be by the time the blasted blight arrives. Ian

Gardeners' World Web User 30/03/2009 at 07:20

I had planned to plant mine this weekend (Charlottes) but decided that the risk of frost was too great. I'm in the North East of Scotland, and I'm also a novice, so wouldn't want to lose my first crop. Hopefully next weekend.

Gardeners' World Web User 30/03/2009 at 15:40

I could do with a spot of advice please! I have never had a veg plot before, this is my first. I have read that you shouldn't add manure to beds for root veg, does this apply to spuds?

Gardeners' World Web User 30/03/2009 at 18:13

I'm in Nottingham and plant all potatoes in bags these days as ground space too precious, and I have inherited lots of concreted areas!Got my earlies,Aran Pilot & Dunluce,in a couple of weeks ago.2nd early Anya went in on 28thMarch, but I am holding off on the Main crop Sapro Mira for a couple of weeksas chitting not so advanced on them and it is rather cold.

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