This weekend saw my first potatoes of the year go into the ground. I have set aside around a sixth of my plot to grow potatoes (about 6x6 yards) which I estimate I can fill with eight rows of a few different varieties. I don't think you can beat fresh new potatoes especially with home grown salad in the summer months so this is what I will be devoting most of the space to with a few rows given over to enjoy later in the season.
For the Summer crops I'm planting four rows of Rocket http://varieties.potato.org.uk/display_description.php?variety_name=Rocket (two rows of 12 tubers planted now and two more in a few weeks time to stagger harvesting). At this time I'll also plant one row of Anya (14/16 tubers) http://varieties.potato.org.uk/display_description.php?variety_name=Anya a particularly tasty salad type. A short while later I'll plant a row each of Charlotte (10)
http://varieties.potato.org.uk/display_description.php?variety_name=Charlotte , Desiree (10) http://varieties.potato.org.uk/display_description.php?variety_name=Desiree and King Edward (10) http://varieties.potato.org.uk/display_description.php?variety_name=King%20Edward .
I will give the later varieties a bit more space to develop than the early ones but the planting procedure is roughly the same. I dig a trench and nestle the chitted tubers about 6-8 inches below the surface. I did spread a few sacks of manure over this ground during the winter but before I back fill the trench to cover the tubers I'll sprinkle some composted litter from my hens on the spoil which will hopefully give the plants a boost. The first 2 rows at least will no doubt break through the surface before the risk of frost has passed. Whilst I will 'earth up' the rows to cover the foliage when they break through, this will provide some protection but I will use a sheet of fleece to cover them completely if frost is forecast after they have completely emerged.
Frost won't be the only challenge though and later on in the season (July onwards) I'll be keeping an eye out for any signs of blight (brown and yellow patches on the leaves on my plants or neighbouring plot holders') so I can remove the foliage and save the crop beneath. Fingers crossed that won't be necessary and that the foliage can be left to develop the tubers until it withers naturally. There's also the danger from pests such as Wireworm which will take the opportunity of eating at my crop before I get the chance. A trick I've heard about which I'll use try to reduce the numbers is to place half a cut potato on the surface, wait for the Wireworms to take up residence in this bait then remove them from harm's way (harm to my crops that is).
These are my potato plans, I'll just have to see how they'll turn out. Fingers crossed!
Thanks for reading.