Gardening Magazine

Planting My First Potatoes of the Year

By Mwillis
As many of you will know, I have recently taken on looking after a plot where the owners used to save seeds from their plants and sow them again, year on year, and I am going to try to preserve some of these true heritage veg. First up are some "Foremost" First Early potatoes, which I rescued during my preparatory digging. They were all very small ones, but most of them seem viable and they have produced some strong-looking chits (shoots):
Planting my first potatoes of the year
I am going to give these ones the VIP treatment, and grow them in my own garden, in containers, rather than up at the new plot. Assuming they produce a reasonable crop, I will select the best ones for storage, with a view to planting them at the plot in Spring 2019. In the meantime, I'll grow some new "Foremost" at the plot, because I know the owners like this variety best.
I had about 15 saved tubers, but some of them were very tiny, so I decided I would plant the 9 best ones, three to a pot (approx. 30L size). This was heavily influenced by the fact that I have three plastic mini greenhouses which I can use to protect the pots until the weather improves sufficiently that they no longer need protection.
Planting my first potatoes of the year
I used my trusty groundsheet as a base for preparing my growing-medium. I made a mixture of soil (originally from the raised beds I dismantled last year) and homemade compost - the latter with lots of organic matter in it, which will help to prevent Scab forming on the potatoes.
Planting my first potatoes of the year
I also threw in a few handfuls of pelleted chicken manure.
Planting my first potatoes of the year
Having filled each pot about one-third full, I sprinkled on a dusting of the Fish, Blood and Bone fertiliser. I've not used this before, but someone on Twitter told me it is good for spuds, so I'm giving it a try. I got it from Poundland (Guess how much it cost!). The instructions on the pack say to add 50g per square meter...
Planting my first potatoes of the year
Another layer of soil/compost went in on top of the FBB. (I don't like the seed-tubers to be in direct contact with the fertiliser). Then, I gently pushed the potatoes into the soil/compost, positioned with the chits/shoots uppermost, and covered them over to a depth of just an inch or two.
Planting my first potatoes of the year
Now some labels. I'm growing quite a lot of different varieties of potato this year, so I want to be able to tell which is which.
Planting my first potatoes of the year
The final part of the process was to position the pots inside the mini-greenhouses.
Planting my first potatoes of the year
For the time being I'm leaving the doors unzipped, because the temperatures are very mild. It was about 12C when I was planting those potatoes. If frost is forecast, I'll close them up.
Planting my first potatoes of the year
In the next few days (as long as we get a decent dry spell) I intend to plant some more of my First Early potatoes, though before I do that I'll need to get the other plastic greenhouse thingies out of the garage and assemble them again. I think it's still too early to plant potatoes without protection, because I believe there is still a strong possibility that we will get more frost.

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