Yesterday was the time I decided to get my spuds out.
Normally I would grow straight in the ground by either dibbing and planting the spud in the hole, or pulling a trench along a line, placing the spuds out in the trench and then back filling again. Either way has always proven back-breaking to me, and then when it comes to digging them out it is just as hard. I always managed to stab the biggest and best with my fork. Basically, it seemed so much hard work for the return, which would be just as cheap to buy by the sack.
I swore last season that I would never sow another seed in the ground again, and if I decided I was going to grow them, it would be in a potato planter.
Well, getting into to showing has assisted me with my method. All the top showers grow in polypots. These are simply plastic bag type pots which are then filled with a medium of choice.
The polypots used for potatoes are the 17 ltr size.
The mix I used was a peat based mix with a handful of Calcified Seaweed and a handful of Vitax Q4. The peat was put through a shredder and then mixed with the nutrients in the cement mixer. I then bagged up the mix and put it in my poly tunnel for approx. a week to warm up.
The varieties I decided to go with were Winston, for the white class, and Kestrel for the coloured class. The potatoes were all stood up in egg boxes with the faces upright and left to chit. Once the chits were becoming established, I sprayed with a Medwyns Liquid Gold to make the chits healthier.
When it came to sowing, I needed to select which were the best potatoes to sow. The majority had scab, but I had previously picked out the better ones. Almost all the potatoes had scab, and although the suppliers say it does not transfer, I asked another person I became associated with, who is renowned for being somewhat of an expert in the potato world. 'Taffy' advised me that not only will scab transfer to new yield, it will also infect the soil the potatoes were grown in. Well, I had no choice as no matter which supplier I went to, all their potatoes suffered from it.
After selecting the best of the bunch, I removed all the chits to leave just 2 for Kestrel and 3 for Winston. I am told that you leave 3 chits on for Winston as they tend to grow bigger so by leaving an extra one on, it helps contain the size.
I then filled each polypot to a third, sowed the seed in the centre and then topped up to a few inches from the top.
Once all my polypots were sown and filled, I then took out a 12" wide trench, 4" deep in the soil were they were going to stand. I lined them with a sprinkle of potato fertiliser and also some slug pellets. Once the trench was prepared, I stood them back in approx.. 2" apart and then banked up the soil at the sides to protect any roots that may stick through. The next row was then put in 14" apart and the process was carried out as before. Once all the pots were in place, I gave them all a good soaking. All I have left to do now is to cover with some polythene until the plants start to show through.
While I was on my plot which is where the potatoes are planted, I checked to see how the shallots were doing. I am no expert but they appeared to be looking pretty good and have started to split.
My eating onions also look fantastic, which is more than I can say about my show onions, which I really have to think about next year as they seem to be a total disaster this season. I am lucky that I have managed to acquire some more Vento and Kelsae plants, which may just save me.