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Grow your own potatoes.


 
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James Kilkelly
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Joined: 30 May 2006
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Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 1:50 pm    Post subject: Grow your own potatoes. Reply with quote

Grow your own potatoes.

These days many people consider it not worth their while growing their own potatoes, preferring instead to buy them, avoiding the long cropping period, blight, and other downsides. However there is great satisfaction to be had from sitting at your own dinner table, tackling into a plate of your own hot buttered new potatoes. For those of you thinking of popping in a few pops, here's what you need to know.

You will require.

Arrow 1. A sunny area of fertile and well-drained soil, preferably forked over the previous winter, with lots of well-rotted compost/farmyard manure dug in at that time. This is preferable but not essential; so don't let it put you off your potato planting.

Arrow 2. Certified seed potatoes, purchased from a local farmer, garden centre, or online, as these will give you the best chance of growing a good crop. You can of course use shop bought eating potatoes or potatoes you saved from last year, but you will have an increased risk of growing a diseased crop.

Arrow 3. Some time between Mid-March / end of April for planting.

Arrow 4. A few humble garden tools such as a spade, hoe, garden fork, and a strong back.

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Preparing the rows.
Loosen your soil by digging it over with a garden fork, removing any weeds and other debris as you go. Follow this by digging your planting trenches to 6 inches (15cm) wide and six inches deep, the individual trenches can be spaced about 3 feet apart.

Into the base of the trench, you should add some fertiliser to aid the growth of your new potato plants, as they are very hungry feeders. You can add a light shake of artificial potato fertiliser (7:6:17) or some shovels of well-rotted compost/farmyard manure. To prevent burning of the new plants and an increased chance of potato scab, both these additions should be covered with an inch or two of soil before the seed potatoes go in.

How to plant.
Press the seed potatoes lightly into the trench at about 12 inch (30cm) spacings. Ensure that the eyes of the potato are facing up; it is from these small depressions found on each potato that the buds will appear, if they have not already.

Return the dug soil into the trench without disturbing the seed potatoes too much. Mark the exact location of your rows if you wish, with sticks driven into the soil at either end.

Earthing up.
Now the crop of potatoes forms in the soil area between the top of the soil and the seed potato you have sown. Because of this, your potato rows will require earthing up during the growing season, also known as hilling or mounding. This gives the potatoes a larger area of soil to grow within, and prevents some of your crop appearing over the soil to become greened by the sun, to a state where they become poisonous.

When the potato stems and leaves are about 8 inches high, you get between the rows and break up the soil with a garden fork removing any weeds as you go. Using a spade or a hoe, hill this loose soil up in a tent shape around the plants to a height of about 6 inches.
Drills of earthed up potato plants, but god that soil looks dry, photo / pic / image.

Harvesting.
Harvesting of your potatoes usually takes place sometime between June and September. The time to harvest early potatoes is just after they finish flowering (before the flower becomes a green fruit), whereas the maincrop varieties are best tackled after the plants leaves turn yellow. Cut away these yellow stalks and wait for about two weeks before using a garden fork to gently loosen the potatoes from the ground.

When harvesting your potatoes it is very important to totally clear the soil of each and every potato, even the small marbles that you may never eat. This is because left over potatoes can harbour pest and diseases within your soil e.g. wireworm, blight etc. I will be dealing with these potato problems in a follow up article to "Grow your own potatoes".

Associated content.....
Increasing your stock of seed pototoes, How-to Video.

How to chit seed potatoes for earlier and heavier cropping.

How to grow new potatoes for Christmas.

How to manage the top two potato pests, Wireworm and Slugs.

Common potato Scab, Management of the problem.

Potato blight, how to treat Phytophthora infestans.

Planning a Vegetable Garden? How to Make a Vegetable Garden.

Any queries or comments on Grow your own potatoes, please post below.

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Last edited by James Kilkelly on Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:45 am; edited 7 times in total
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scotty
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We just planted our potatoes yesterday in a new part of the garden that hasn't had potatoes in it for decades. The reason we did this was to try and avoid the slugs that seem to feast on our new potatoes year after year. They are tiny with black and brown stripes and very often we don't notice them until we cut the potato in half. I figured that maybe the soil was too moist or something and the new place is very well drained and a bit sandy so this might help. Does anyone else have any advice about avoiding these little buggers?
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jashar99
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if it is wire worms that are the problem. They feed on roots and potatoes themselves. If indeed it is them, I think they have long life cycle, a couple of years. Rotation might help, not sure of direct treatment or organic solution to problem.

i was wondering if anyone has had good success with growing potatoes in large bags, if so are there any helpful tips. There is a good video of Carol setting potatoes that way on gardeners world website. Thanks in advance
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scotty, jashar99, I will have a potato pest control article posted up by the weekend, slugs, wireworms etc.
So keep an eye out.
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jashar99
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that, by the way, congrats on this website, while my wife is addicted to facebook, i find myself checking out this forum all the time... for which i get slagged.. well done
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scotty
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GPI,
I heard somewhere that sometimes wireworms are what cause the original holes which these little stripy slugs use as a way of getting into the potato? Is this true? Great website by the way - who needs Facebook?!
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medieval knievel
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

has anyone ever tried growing potatoes in bags?
a colleague was telling me that his father used to grow them in old tyres, stacking more tyres and soil on as they grew.
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verge
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grew them in old compost bags before and kept rolling up the bag to add more soil for mounding Smile . The crop wasn't the biggest. More like new baby potatoes, nice all the same. A person who does not have a garden available to them could easily grow some potatoes like this on a patio or house path.
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scotty and jashar99, the link to the article on wireworm, slugs and potatoes is now attached to my original article above.
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jashar99
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

just saw it there, thanks
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scotty
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just saw the article, thanks. Unfortunately we have planted potatoes where there was previously grass as we recently moved and it couldn't be avoided. They are earlies though and we're hoping to have them out of the ground as early as we can. Our ducks will hopefully get rid of any surface slugs, it's the ones in the ground that are the real buggers.
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Fiachra
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I planted some british queens on 21st March after chitting them for about 6 weeks. They are now about 1 to 2 feet high and some of them are beginning to flower. The foliage is not meeting across the rows yet. I gave them a dose of nettle tea about two weeks ago. My question is - when will they be ready to eat . I saw above earlies are ready after finishing flowering - these are second earlies I think , so will I wait till the foliage dies or can I eat after flowering?
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Liparis
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, honestly, you can eat them as new potatoes after flowering, they will be small. Lates are grown for storage, once the foliage dies back the skin forms and they are then suitable and ready to store through the winter. Un-skinned potatos can of course also be stored, they need to be lifted and put into containers of some sort in a dry, frost-free shed in layers of dry peat. The peat must be thoroughly dry, you then have a potato that is nearly, but not quite as good, as a new potato, especially for Christmas. The dry peat continues to slow up the skinning process.
Bill.

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Fiachra
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Bill,
I think that gardening will teach me how to have patience!
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