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Did you sow your potatoes early or late???


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tagwex
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Location: Co. Wexford

PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:08 pm    Post subject: Did you sow your potatoes early or late??? Reply with quote

We are new to this vegetable gardening and have attacked it with gusto this year. I had always heard that potatoes should be sown by St. Patricks Day or else forget it. Ours went in on June 10th (due to moving house) and the first ones appeared nine days later and are now touching 600mm high and started flowering a few days back. So, I am trying to do a straw poll from around the country to see if earlier or later than Mar. 17th is any better. I know we haven't seen the crop results yet and the vagaries of weather kick in and soil types have a say but it should be interesting. I know someone who planted in early March and their plants are not half the height of ours so that got me wondering.
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Last edited by tagwex on Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Blowin
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Tagwex - In my very limited experience, the worst thing you can do in gardening is to look for 'The Answer', because basically it ain't there. Whatever rule you hear, someone will report an alternative.

This forum is excellent for seeking, and providing, tips and experiences but, to focus on your spuds question, one web site I visited the other day was offering a variety that you sow soon for digging at Christmas. The boffins will tell you that you must buy bona fide seed potatoes, rather than save some from the previous year's crop. By accident, I should say, I must have left a few reds behind when I dug last year's up. They came up this year and produced considerable numbers of those big perfect tubers you keep to one side for baking.

I follow 'The Rules' as much as possible but am never afraid of doing my own thing, whether through necessity or simple pigheadedness, but the main thing is you mustn't give up. Don't forget, for a bloke to justify a reasonable shed, he needs a good garden?

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tagwex
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Blowin,

I wasn't really looking for a definitive answer, just looking for a general consensus from around the country. Here in Wexford the old maxim about Mar. 17th is often heard by the old timers and I remember my father and uncles saying it too . Maybe we just got lucky with our crop this year as anyone who has visited here doesn't believe how late they were sown when they see how they look now. It's not as if we know what we are doing!
Reading back I should have named the varieties we sowed - Kerrs Pinks, Golden Wonder and Roosters. We have no intention of giving up as we are enjoying it too much.
The shed is a mess and the plot is as tidy as can be, need a few wet days so as I can concentrate on sorting the shed out. Only sowed 300 pea seeds two days ago - that should be interesting to see how they fare. The packet said plant no later than June/ early July. Next year we will be doing everything a bit earlier.

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Its my field. Its my child. I nursed it. I nourished it. I saw to its every want. I dug the rocks out of it with my bare hands and I made a living thing of it!

This boy can really sing http://youtu.be/Dgv78D2duBE
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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being a gardening issue, there is no real right or wrong answer.
The earliest potatoes should be sown is one week after the last frost. Though this makes perfect sense, it's not really practical advice and it means having the ability to see into the future.

The whole St. Patricks Day thing, or Good Friday in the UK, is very misleading. These two dates are traditional, not for any gardening reason but because it is the first public holiday in Ireland (or England in the case of Good Friday).

As for the latest time to plant potatoes, there is a rule of thumb that if you can see thru' the ash tree then you still have time to plant potatoes. The ash's leaves come relatively late, so if the tree is not yet fully green, you are good to plant potatoes.

Potatoes planted in March will mature in a short time, giving you earlies. Those planted in June will take longer to mature and will give you late maincrop. I planted my maincrop in mid-June and are far bigger than my few remaining earlies.

There is a mis-conception that the earlier a seed/plant (of any plant) is planted, the earlier it will be ready for harvest. This is rarely the case. The earlier it is planted, the slower it will grow, the more exposure it has the pests and diseases and the ill effects of inclement weather.
Also, though 80% of what you need to know is on a seed packet, take into account that most of the seed packets we have in Ireland are produced in England, often in the south. Delay planting times accordingly by 2-6 weeks, depending on where in Ireland you are.
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Blowin
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There you go, Tagwex, some real country folklore and I like the one about seeing through the ash tree but, without contradicting a word of what MP says, I come from the SE of England where I'm used to far colder winters than we get here in West Cork. As a result, but without any science behind it, I've always looked at the seed packet and, if the weather allows me to get on the garden, I bring the planting date FORWARD by up to a fortnight.

MP also makes the very good point about the rate of growing according to when crops are planted. I've tried to be clever in the past and sowed some seeds every two weeks or so with the intention of getting a long succcession of picking. The net result is they all catch each other up!

One final precaution is the stated heights on seed packets. I get good crops of peas from planting Hurst Greenshaft but, whereas the packet says they'll grow to 2-2.5ft, mine regularly reach 5-6ft which is a bit of a bummer if you've only provided them with short support sticks/nets.

I've worked out that I should get this gardening lark sussed by the time I'm 118.

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tagwex
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@My Potatoes: Too many variants in your logic there My Potatoes. Have you ever heard of this saying? "When the oak is before the ash, then you will only get a splash; when the ash is before the oak, then you may expect a soak." This saying refers to what kind of a summer we can expect depending on which leaf appears first. So the Oak must have been out first this year. This could throw your argument out by many weeks. Also Good Friday is a movable date by 6 weeks, I think, so again there is no set date to work from. What bearing can the weather/planting date have on a Good Friday shifting date?

As stated, all of ours were planted on June 10th with flowers appearing on all three varieties in the last week, but mostly on the earlies, the Kerrs Pinks.

There is no logic to this is there? Some good advice there though, thanks.

"Delay planting times accordingly by 2-6 weeks, depending on where in Ireland you are." Now this is just what I was getting at when I started this post. Look at the number of views as against the number of comments, I was hoping for a cross sectional view from around the country, and no disrespect but I get two answers from Cork. Why the disproportion in views v comments do you think?

Any luck with the knapsack?

@ Blowin: SE England??? Me too. Maybe I should have called myself Blowin Mk 2.
Peas, I have a hazel branch support system up to cater for up to 7' but the seed I got are for bushes up to 30" or so, we shall see what they grow to.

118, jaaaaaysus I think we could double that no problem.

_________________
Its my field. Its my child. I nursed it. I nourished it. I saw to its every want. I dug the rocks out of it with my bare hands and I made a living thing of it!

This boy can really sing http://youtu.be/Dgv78D2duBE
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Blowin
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In general terms, what we're all trying to do is manipulate nature. Instead of roaming round the countryside looking for a cabbage or a spud, we plant them where we'll know where to find them and we provide what we think will be an ideal environment for a maximum/quality crop from the available space.

However, nature generates seeds at the end of a previous growing season and they lay idle wherever they are until conditions are right for them to come again. To a certain extent, therefore, it should be possible to plant all your seeds on Christmas Day and wait for them to sense the time is right to begin a new season.

This is where experience comes in and our expert colleagues will know that, in very wet conditions perhaps, a large proportion of certain seeds will rot. Some, all bar the most sheltered ones, will die in frosts and either situation will leave us with poor results so, by doing what others tell us, we can improve our chances of allowing nature a better chance of success. On the other hand, as with the racing tipster, we're all capable of making our own decisions and it may be that the contributor who delays his planting by 2-6 weeks gets far better crops than me. Maybe I do better than him but, until we move in side by side and regularly compare our attempts, we both follow our respective instincts, guided by the experience of others, and await that 118th birthday.

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Blowin
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tagwex - Did you buy your hazel system as a bundle of such branches? Or did you go out and get them yourself from the countryside? Mid Sussex by the way.
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tagwex
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@ Blowin. Yep it seems trial and error is the name of this gardening game. I presume every year will be different. Cannot wait to get my greenhouse.
Someone was up early this morning! I know where there is an acre or two of hazels gone wild and asked the owner and took what I wanted.
NW London and Herts. for me for 28 years.

_________________
Its my field. Its my child. I nursed it. I nourished it. I saw to its every want. I dug the rocks out of it with my bare hands and I made a living thing of it!

This boy can really sing http://youtu.be/Dgv78D2duBE
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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tagwex wrote:
Have you ever heard of this saying?

I hadn't heard it before and thought that the ash is always the last tree to green up. I did some googling and in the last century this was the case 90% of the time, and 60% in the previous century.
Given that the summers of 2007-2012 where wetter than average, the oak would have greened up after the ash six years on the trot. I don't know if this was the case.
Regardless, that ash/potato thing has nothing to do with the oak really. Anyway, it's a rule of thumb. Different men have different sized thumbs; the very nature of a rule of thumb is that it'll vary.

tagwex wrote:
What bearing can the weather/planting date have on a Good Friday shifting date?

This is my point exactly. Good Friday and St Patricks Day were traditional dates because they were holidays, not for gardening reasons. Yes, St Patricks Day is the same date every year (though some would argue that in 2001 it moved) and Good Friday varies as it is based on the Moon, but neither relate to ideal gardening.

Due to the nature of our springs the optimum date will move. See my comment regarding frost. Eddie Hobbs tweeted in early March that he had set his potatoes. We'd frost in April! In 2013, March would have been too early to sow potatoes. In a year of a mild spring, March would have been ideal.

tagwex wrote:

As stated, all of ours were planted on June 10th with flowers appearing on all three varieties in the last week,
but mostly on the earlies, the Kerrs Pinks.

There is no logic to this is there? Some good advice there though, thanks.

I planted my earlies in April, my second earlies in May and my mains in June. From a gardening point of view there is no logic to the same date being used every year when every spring is different.

tagwex wrote:
"Delay planting times accordingly by 2-6 weeks, depending on where in Ireland you are."
Now this is just what I was getting at when I started this post.

Agreed, you plant according to the weather/climate. In Ireland there are many many micro-climates.
I was in west Cork (Allihies) for the last week of May. The good summer as we now know it had not started yet. But it was obvious that the weather here was a good four weeks ahead of East Cork. The ash had greened up, the fairy thimble was in full bloom, there was silage cut. The whitethorn was in full bloom but in East Cork the blackthorn had only just blossomed!

tagwex wrote:
Look at the number of views as against the number of comments, I was hoping for a cross sectional view from around the country, and no disrespect but I get two answers from Cork. Why the disproportion in views v comments do you think?

This site is very quiet really, especially this year. Boards Gardening (http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=1059) has a lot more activity and is probably the busiest gardening forum in Ireland.`


No TecNoma here. I'll probably get this, a Berthoud:
http://www.berthoud-store.co.uk/--102215--259--a.htm
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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tagwex wrote:
I know where there is an acre or two of hazels gone wild and asked the owner- and took what I wanted.


Are they dead? I used hazel as a support before. It took root and sprouted new shoots. Had to replace it with bamboo as it was robbing my plants!
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tagwex
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@my potatoes: "Yes, St Patricks Day is the same date every year (though some would argue that in 2001 it moved)". You have lost me there, explain please.

Yes, micro climates, that is what I was after to see the variance around the country but so many views and so little response is disappointing. I think your set up of April, May and June sounds good for the spuds - my forefathers must have been talking out of their hats with their strict adherence to Mar 17th. We are keeping a diary to see how the various veg performs this year and either copy or tweak it for next year, I suppose we will learn eventually through trial and error.

Interesting comment on the seed packets being weeks out of date too. On a similar vein, I was in the local garden center last week getting pea seeds which were on there last dates to be sowed and I asked the owner what happens the seed packets that are gone by their sowing dates (hoping he would give me a few) only to be told that the seed companies come back to pick them up. Peas are up already, couldn't believe it, I should have taken up this gardening hobby years ago.

Your man in the Berthoud picture forgot to bring his tractor, he could be a long time in that field with that little thing on his back! Have you tried the Cobh, Clonakilty, Bandon and Kinsale ARRO stores if they are near you?

_________________
Its my field. Its my child. I nursed it. I nourished it. I saw to its every want. I dug the rocks out of it with my bare hands and I made a living thing of it!

This boy can really sing http://youtu.be/Dgv78D2duBE
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tagwex
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:43 am    Post subject: Hazel Reply with quote

Have I made a gaff again? I basically just coppiced the hazels' side shoots and took them home and stuck them into a short hole in the ground for rigidity and now you are telling me they will take root! I'm so screwed.
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Its my field. Its my child. I nursed it. I nourished it. I saw to its every want. I dug the rocks out of it with my bare hands and I made a living thing of it!

This boy can really sing http://youtu.be/Dgv78D2duBE
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Blowin
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't believe a word of it, Tagwex. I've cut, made and used more bundles of pea boughs, hazel and chestnut but mostly hazel, than most people will ever see and I've never once known them take root. Willow (Saile) might but not hazel.

The only people who use pea boughs in their full length of 7-8 ft is the flower gardener for his sweet peas but the product was always made/sold this way, 25 sticks to a bundle @ 1/3d per bundle in my day, so that there was some sort of measure to a 'bundle'. Bean sticks, too, also 8ft, were sold in 25s but they were 1/9d.

Once the bundle is in the garden, further cutting is necessary to arrive at an average 3'6" height. Stouter parts from the main stem would go in every 3-4ft, interspersed with the top feathery bits. Any left over twiggy bits would fill any remaining spaces. This way the emerging pea plant would have something easy to cling on to right from the start but the thicker bits would help hold the row rigid against the wind.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, modern varieties can grow to greater heights but that just means you've got to amend the cutting up process to suit. 'Saving out' as a woodman would call it, is something of an art but that's how the job should be done.

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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tagwex wrote:
@my potatoes: "Yes, St Patricks Day is the same date every year (though some would argue that in 2001 it moved)". You have lost me there, explain please.

The foot and mouth epidemic of 2001. All the St Patricks Day activities were postponed 'til 17th May. The day was a scorcher. People suggested permanently moving St Patricks Day to this date.

Regarding the Tecnoma sprayer, I visited Coby DIY, my closest Arro store. They didn't have them. All the other Arros in Cork are Bandon Co-op. I phoned the Kinsale branch and they don't have Tecnoma.
I think Arro are a franchise, like Centra or Topline. Not a retailer like Woodies. Hence the stock can differ quite a bit.
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