Potatoes are now so common with many more varieties being added over the years. We desire to know more on how to grow potatoes in little pots of their own and mostly without chemicals. There are several questions you need to ask yourselves, on deciding which type of potatoes whether the choice will be “Earlies” or “Maincrops”. Earlies type such as Duke of York, Maris Bard and Rocket will provide new potatoes in summer. Maincrops varieties such as Maris Piper, Desiree, Romano and King Edward will provide tubers for storage during the winter months. If the space is limited, you can plant the Earlies potatoes type for summer eating, while bigger space can opt for both Earlies and Maincrop varieties for summer eating and winter storage. Here are some methods on how to grow potatoes:
- Soil type
Potatoes can be grown in all soil type. Provide plenty of well-rotted compost or manure in the autumn if none has been added for a previous crop. This will help to lighten heavy soils and give the body to lighter ones helping to prevent the leaching of nutrients. Before planting potatoes, rake in a general fertilizer 2 weeks before. Growing potatoes prefer a soil pH of just under six, which is slightly acidic, so do not add lime. Avoid planting potatoes in the same ground in successive years but leave 2 to 3 seasons before planting again. This will help to stop the disease and pest that can affect the crop badly.
It is a simple process of allowing shoots to grow from the “rose” end where the most “eyes” are situated which is usually the widest end. The seed potatoes need to be about the size of a hen\’s egg. Set out the potatoes tubers in egg trays or a large number into a shallow box measured about 25mm or 1 inch of dry peat in the base. The rose end should point upwards. Rub off the shoots with your fingers and place then back again to the correct way if you set them out the wrong way. You need to buy your potatoes seed early, which is 6 weeks before planting time. Place the boxes in a light but not sunny and frost-free room. Your aim is to grow sturdy shoots about 1 inch long and not weak. Once your potatoes have chatted and are ready for planting, do not remove any of these sprouted shoots.
- Planting out – Earlies and Maincrop
Dig a V – shaped trench or drill about 13 cm or 5 inch deep in your prepared seedbed are the usual method of planting potatoes. If the soil is light, you can save time to make a hole with a dibber or some such tool and carefully drop the potato in. Plant Earlies potatoes in late March, two weeks earlier in southern areas of the UK and couple of weeks later in northern areas. While for Maincrop, plant them between mid to late April. For Early varieties, the drills need to be 60cm or 24 inch apart. The Maincrop types need 75cm or 30 inch apart for more top and root growth. Early potatoes are spaced 30cm or 12 inch apart and maincrop 38cm or 15 inch apart along the drills. Plant the seed potatoes with the rose-end uppermost carefully. Cover each one with a handful of peat or fine soil to protect the shoots after planting out the potatoes along the drill. The seed potatoes should end up with a covering of approximately 8cm or 3 inch of soil.
- Caring for your potatoes
Draw some soil up over them if the shoots begin to push through the soil, and this will protect them against the frost damage. Remove any weeds from between the rows and break up the soil with a fork when the plant stems are about 8 to 10 inch. It is important to water deliberately when it comes to dry weather, this will ensure to allow the potatoes tubers to form nicely and ensure a good harvest.